SOMALIA: VIOLENT INFIGHTING BETWEEN BOTH PRO-GOVERNMENT AND ISLAMIST FACTIONS THREATENS RECENT PROGRESS

Sheik Muktar Robow is shown, center, flanked by aids and gunmen in Mogadishu, December 14th, 2008. al-Shabab has since lost control of the city.

Sheik Muktar Robow is shown, center, flanked by aids and gunmen in Mogadishu, December 14th, 2008. al-Shabab has since lost control of the city. PHOTO: REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA)

Fierce infighting is reported among rival factions within Somalia’s Al-Shabab militants. The BBC reported six Somali militants and two foreign jihadists were among those killed near the militant stronghold of Brava. The fighting is likely linked to a power struggle between forces loyal to the group’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, and ex-spokesman Muktar Ali Robow. Robow is said to be more moderate and could be pushing to open talks with the government as international attention focuses on rebuilding the country. The country’s parliamentary election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in September of 2012, who’s government was officially recognized by the IMF after 22 years in April, and an international conference in London on the subject of ending the conflict in Somalia, are all likely to be boiling points for the extremists.

Earlier this week the al-Qaeda linked organization killed fifteen people in an attack against of the UN offices in Mogadishu.

According to Somali news sources, fighting resumed earlier this month around the southern port city of Kismayo, which was liberated from the control of the Islamists in heavy fighting by African Union soldiers and the local Ras Kamboni militia last December. However, fighting there is said to be linked to rival militias, some loyal to the central government in Mogadishu, the others supporting former Somali Defence Minister Ras Kamboni who has declared himself ‘president’ of ‘Jubbaland’. The UN Security Council called on the factions to refrain from armed conflict with each other, and to instead focus on defeating the Al-Shabab militants who fled the region only after fierce fighting.

Al-Shabab splintered from the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts in 2006 after that organization lost a series of battles against Somali transitional government forces, backed by Ethiopian troops. Al-Shabab and other Islamist factions are fighting to hold the country side surrounding Mogadishu as Government forces backed by 18,000 African Union soldiers, Ethiopian troops, and pro-government militia struggle to retake their country from the extremists.

Somalia Divided

Al-Shabab and other Islamist militants have been losing territory to African Union troops and local militias loyal to the central government in Mogadishu since they formed after the dissolution of the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (Islamic Courts Union). MAP: BBC

External Links:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22988404
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/06/19/309888/un-concerned-over-somalias-kismayo/
http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/newsbriefs/2013/06/09/newsbrief-01
http://www.biyokulule.com/view_content.php?articleid=1645

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