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Somalia terrorist groups uniting to overthrow government
Two terrorist organizations conducted merger talks in Somalia on Friday, discussed uniting as one entity to wage jihad against the Somali government and its allies. This would be a treacherous development for not only Somalia and its people, but a major strategic setback for the international community.
Somalia is vulnerable, lacking a functioning central government since President Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, it is currently ranked number one in . The encouraging news is that the African Union, United Nations and Somalia met today in Mogadishu and launched a aimed at coordinating efforts to bolster Somalia’s security institutions. One wonders if this will be sufficient and if Somalia and the supporting international forces will be prepared to defend against the likely coming onslaught from the combined terrorist units.
The goal of the merger is to consolidate resources, better leverage financing, and streamline operations in order to topple the weak Somali government. The merger would also expand al-Qaeda’s power base and its influence within Somalia and the Horn of Africa.
Somalia has been a major strategic front for al-Qaeda in their battle to rid Western democracies from Africa, highlighted by the fact that Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al Zawahiri, have included Somalia in their propaganda tapes, and have supported the Somali jihad with funding, personnel, and weapons.
The central Somali government might be ripe for the picking because outside of a few portions of Mogadishu, it has little control over the rest of its own country. Shabaab and Hizbul Islam control the southern and central provinces, as illustrated in shown in
Soon after taking power in 1969 after a coup that led to
the assassination of Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke, Muhammad Siad Barre
declared Somalia a socialist state and began to develop close relations
with the Soviet Union. This relationship was shattered when Somalia
tried to invade and seize the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. In 1977, the
Soviets and Cubans helped Ethiopia defeat Somalia.
In was during this lawless period when U.S. Army Rangers were famously killed by Somali militants when they shot down a helicopter during a battle in Mogadishu, an incident that was later depicted in the film “Black Hawk Down”. This helped thwart an attempt by United Nations peacekeepers to restore order and feed the starving population. The U.S. mission ended in March 1994, and UN peacekeepers withdrew in 1995.
In 2004 the diverse factions came together to finally establish a parliament and appoint a president, but the new administration had a difficult time governing the clan fiefdoms. And then in 2006 Islamic fundamentalist took control of most of the southern portion of Somalia, including Mogadishu, although, backed by Ethiopian forces, a government faction did take back control at year’s end. Two years later, in 2008, Shabaab and other Islamic insurgents beat Ethiopian and Somali government forces to take back most of southern Somalia.
In January of 2009, Ethiopia withdrew forces and Somalia’s parliament had to meet in neighboring Djibouti to swear in members from the main opposition movement, the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), and appointed moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad as the new president. Yet, the government's position weakened further, and in May of this year Shabaab and Hizbul Islam launched an attack on the capital forcing President Ahmad to desperately ask for help from abroad. This is why we now see the intervention of the African Union and Western powers