The group typically leaves an area ahead of an AMISOM offensive, but experts say that UN-backed forces do not have the capacity to hold recaptured territory and note that militants usually return. The group has suffered several setbacks in recent years, including losses of the port cities of Kismayo and Barawe, after which it made the southern city of Jilib its de facto capital. Meanwhile, it has stepped up its presence in the north, particularly in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, where it battles fighters affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State for primacy.
Somalia: State Collapse, Terrorism and Piracy
Al-Shabab experts Stig Jarle Hansen and Christopher Anzalone say the group controls more territory than at any point since , though the Somali government insists the group faces collapse. Swan , a former U. In October , the capital city suffered its worst terrorist attack to date when twin truck bombings killed more than five hundred people and injured more than three hundred. Though al-Shabab never claimed responsibility, the group is widely believed to have carried out the attack.
The group claimed an attack at a hotel two weeks later that killed several senior government and military officials. State Department reported in that defection rates have increased in the last two years due to U. In recent years, U. Al-Shabab has attracted dozens of American volunteers to fight in Somalia, many from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Since , Washington has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to train and equip AMISOM and Somali security forces, but it announced in late it was suspending aid to most Somali units over corruption concerns. In April of that year, President Donald J. Defense officials say some five hundred U. A single strike on a training camp northwest of Mogadishu in November killed more than a hundred militants, according to U.
The United States recognized the Somali government in but did not reestablish a permanent diplomatic presence in Mogadishu until December , nearly three decades after it had closed its embassy. In the years prior, U. The U. The Controversy Over U.
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Terror Threat: What to Know. Farah Anwar Pandith. How We Win. By shipowners began to employ privately contracted armed guards at considerable personal expense. Piracy continued to thrive because the Somali state had failed to exert control over its citizens. Every effort it made to suppress insurgency was only temporarily effective. The history of piracy demonstrates that it can be managed — but only by a strong state.
The pirates that unleashed terror across the English Channel in the 16th century disappeared after a strong push back from the government. And the pirates who disrupted trade off the coast of 19th century Morocco gradually stopped operations as the Sultan exerted greater control over remote regions. For more than 25 years Somalis have had bigger problems than a few hundred men hijacking foreign ships.
Even before the state collapsed in they had endured widespread corruption, violence and persistent drought and famine. For decades the international community has insisted that Somalia must be rebuilt into a centralised state to be functional. But the country is actually a configuration of multiple, clan-aligned regions with varying levels of control and authority. This is not to say that Somali clans have not united before.
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With the backing of considerable resources from the Soviet Union, the military regime of Siad Barre in the s managed to bring the country together under the common goal of unity for communities that had been divided by European colonialism. But When Barre tried to reinforce this unity by invading Ethiopia in , the devastating and humiliating loss severed the fragile Somali unity and divided the clans, eventually contributing to the collapse of the state.
New Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed faces the unprecedented task of finding a way to unify the country without military force.
Somalia: State Collapse, Terrorism and Piracy (Electronic book text)
As piracy escalated in , the capital Mogadishu descended into chaos as a war began between the Transitional Federal Government, the Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab, and various interest groups, including Ethiopia and Eritrea. The warring parties had neither the inclination nor the resources to intervene against the pirate attacks because control of the capital was at stake. Besides, the pirates came from Puntland, a comparatively peaceful region with a relatively functional local government, judiciary and security force.
The key to stopping the pirates lay with persuading Puntland authorities to dissuade their citizens from piracy. Puntland is made up of a coalition of sub-groups from the Darod clan. The Puntland pirates maintain that illegal fishing by foreigners pushed them to take up arms to protect their territorial waters, and to demand compensation.
‘War on piracy’: the conflation of Somali piracy with terrorism in discourse, tactic and law
Very quickly piracy became big business. For years, the financial proceeds of piracy benefited the Darod clan. Pirates were recruited from within the clan and their collaboration fuelled the success of the hijack and ransom model. Proceeds were distributed equitably among clan members. Meanwhile, the international community was prioritising the war against piracy. The more prudent thing to do would have been to provide the people of Puntland with the right financial incentives to end their dependency on piracy for income. In April , the United Nations took the financial incentives route by opening a prison in Garowe, the capital of Puntland.
It was set up to house convicted pirates including those who had been repatriated from other jurisdictions. In return, Puntland passed the anti-piracy legislation and entered into prisoner transfer agreements with the UN in return for funding.