Rebel Leader Says
Al-Shabaab Losing Ground In Somalia
Kenya, July 9, 2011 – One of the
leaders of the al-Qaida-linked Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab has
acknowledged the group is losing ground in its fight against the Somali
As forces of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government continue to make
advances throughout the country - often with the help of African Union
troops - the country's main insurgent group, al-Shabaab, appears to be
Speaking on a radio station that is friendly to the Islamist insurgents,
Shabaab commander Ahmed Abdi Godane admitted the group had experienced
significant losses, including the deaths of several senior officials and
commanders, in recent fighting.
The TFG has made significant advances in its effort to oust al-Shabaab
since the insurgents' “Ramadan offensive” launched in September of last
year. Government and AU troops managed to repel the insurgent onslaught
and reclaim parts of the war-torn capital, Mogadishu.
Since January of this year, the government also has begun to chip away
at insurgent strongholds in the Gedo region along the borders of
Ethiopia and Kenya. Recently, TFG forces launched an offensive to take
Mogadishu’s Bakara market, seen as the main insurgent stronghold in the
Government troops have closed in on the market - an important part of
Somalia’s economy - though analysts expect a difficult fight to extract
the insurgents from the labyrinth of stalls and shops that are heavily
occupied by civilians. Spies The rebel commander also expressed concern over spies he believed
had infiltrated al-Shabaab, weakening it from within by sowing discord
among the movement’s leaders. Godane said the group was working out ways
to eliminate the spies from Shabaab’s ranks.
The past month has seen other victories against the Islamist group,
including the killing of Fazul Mohammed, who many pegged as al-Qaida’s
chief in East Africa and the mastermind of the 1998 United States
embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Somali government has strong backing in its fight against al
Shabaab. In Mogadishu, TFG troops are supported by an 8,000-strong
African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM. The force has led most
of the fighting in past years, but recently has allowed government
troops to shoulder more of the burden. AU,
US support The TFG also is receiving the support of the U.S. military, which
recently launched drone attacks from its Special Operations Command Unit
in Yemen. The strikes targeted and killed at least one Shabaab operative
in Kismayo on Somalia’s southern coast.
The recent successes have raised hope the government can re-establish
security and stability in Somalia, which has not had a stable central
government in 20 years.