Somalia president launches new Al-Shabab offensive

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – On Sunday, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared the start of the next stage in military operations to combat the extremist organization Al-Shabab, intending to drive out the militants from the remaining regions of the country.

President Mohamud made this announcement during a visit to the recently liberated Aadan Yabaal district, where he underlined the achievements of the Somali National Army (SNA) in the initial phase of the campaign against Al-Shabab.

Initial phase accomplishments

Beginning in August 2022, the first phase represented a pivotal moment in Somalia’s fight against Al-Shabab.

Supported by the United States and Turkey, the Somali-led offensive in central Somalia illustrated the SNA’s growing capabilities.

The SNA managed to secure strategic towns like Harardhere and Galcad, while local clan militias and international drone assistance served as supplementary forces.

The Somali government concentrated on disrupting Al-Shabab’s revenue streams during this stage. 

President Mohamud emphasized his administration’s dedication to stabilizing the region and offering essential public services in his address.

Next phase and potential challenges

President Mohamud believes the upcoming offensive operations phase will be less challenging than the previous one, given the national army’s invaluable experience.

Nevertheless, the long-term effectiveness of the offensive relies on the Somali government’s capacity to safeguard ordinary citizens and stop Al-Shabab from penetrating government-controlled areas.

Bolstering the Somali police force and adopting a “clear and hold” strategy will be essential in securing a lasting triumph over the extremist group.

The Somali government aspires to use this renewed offensive to eradicate Al-Shabab’s presence and restore stability and safety for its citizens.

Doubts over the government’s approach

As the Federal Government of Somalia readies itself for the next phase of operations against Al-Shabab, questions have arisen about the government’s strategy.

Former National Security Agency Director and current Member of Parliament, Abdullahi Mohamed Ali Samboolshe, expressed significant concerns about the government’s tactics, arguing that a direct confrontation between locals and Al-Shabab had been successful.

However, the government plans to have its forces lead the second phase, which may negatively impact the offensive.

“The key to victory in this war has been pitting the people against Al-Shabab… A delicate equilibrium between locals, the international community, and government forces is necessary. If one component is absent, success becomes unattainable,” MP Samboolshe said.

In response to Samboolshe’s remarks, Somali Minister of Defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur Jama stressed that liberation efforts are underway in HirShabelle and Galmudug, with plans to extend the conflict to other Al-Shabab-dominated areas of the country.

“Every region will be liberated; we are committed to assisting Somali citizens and ensuring that no one is left behind,” Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur Jama stated.