MOGADISHU, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – Neighboring countries of Somalia are preparing to send new troops to support Somali forces in their fight against al-Shabab, according to Hussein Sheikh-Ali, the national security adviser for Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
In an interview with VOA’s Somali Service, Ali said that Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya would send troops in addition to the soldiers already serving as part of the African Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
He said the new troops would not be part of the ATMIS mission. Ali declined to provide a specific number of incoming soldiers, citing “operational purposes.”
Ali said the plan is for the new troops to enter Somalia within eight weeks.
He noted that their role is to jointly plan and operate under the command of Somali security forces, fighting against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces.
The three countries’ leaders attended a summit hosted by Mohamud on February 1 in Mogadishu, where they agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines.
Second phase offensive against Al-Shabab
The national security adviser stated that the current military operations against al-Shabab have paused as the government concludes the first phase of operations.
However, the second phase is expected to begin soon with the support of the additional non-ATMIS forces from neighboring countries joining the fight.
Matt Bryden, a Horn of Africa regional security expert, has warned that the success of the second phase offensive against al-Shabab will depend on two key considerations.
The first is proper planning, with counterinsurgency operations being intelligence-led and having clearly defined objectives, such as dismantling specific al-Shabab bases and neutralizing high-value jihadist leaders.
The second consideration is the availability of holding forces to secure newly recovered territory after the clearing forces have passed through, as recent operations have highlighted the absence of capable holding forces.
U.S. provides weapons to Somalia
The United States delivered the second shipment of weapons to Somalia this year.
The shipment, weighing 61 tons, consisted of AK-47s, heavy machine guns, and ammunition and arrived via two U.S. Airforce C-17 aircraft at Mogadishu airport.
In January, the U.S. donated $9 million worth of heavy weapons, equipment, medical supplies, and maintenance equipment for vehicles and weapons to Somalia.
The U.S. has an estimated 450 military personnel in Somalia after President Joe Biden reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces.
The U.S. supports the Somali and multinational African Union forces with drone strikes, intelligence, and training.
The al-Shabab militant group in Somalia
Al-Shabab is a Somalia-based terrorist group that has been waging an insurgency against the country’s government since 2006.
The group is known for its violent tactics, including suicide bombings, and has pledged allegiance to al-Qaida.
The group controls large parts of the countryside and regularly launches attacks on civilians, government officials, and African Union peacekeepers.
The African Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), composed of soldiers from several African countries, has supported the Somali government’s efforts to defeat al-Shabab since 2007.