Terror Group Al Shabaab is ‘Becoming Weaker’ But More Hard Line, Says the UN’s Top Diplomat in Somalia.


nicholaskayabdullahilomogeNicholas Kay, who became special representative for Somalia last month, claims the organisation has become far more fragmented over the past few years as a result of efforts by the UN, African Union and Somali forces to quell its deadly brand of Islamism.

But Kay, with experience in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, admits that this month’s capture of long time target Hassan Dahir Aweys reveals little about Al Shabaab in general, and warns that the region must be alert to the kinds of concentrated attacks that have hit Mogadishu in recent months.

“One of their senior leaders has been taken into custody and is no longer active. It’s an indication that Al Shabaab is dividing and becoming weaker.

“It’s a sign of the pressure they’re under,” added Kay. “But the recent attacks show that Al Shabaab is still active, and its current leadership is more hard-line. There’s been an increase in Al Shabaab activity in the past month in central Somalila.”
Ken Menkhaus, an expert from Davidson College in the US, says that contrary to popular belief that Al Shabaab is on a steady and inexorable decline, it may simply be experiencing one of many historic eras of regrouping.

“There’s an ebb and flow of fragmentation and power. Currently we’re in fragmentation. Al Shabaab is very loose but it has a very scary core.

“That will continue to do damage in Somalia,” added Menkhaus. “Anyone on the ground is quite sober about what that means.”

Al Shabaab has suffered setbacks since the Somali government of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was recognised by the US and International Monetary Fund last year.
But recent attacks, including bomb blasts targeting foreign workers, have fanned fears that the terror outfit, whose name means ‘The Youth’ in Arabic, is gaining a foothold in Mogadishu once more.
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