The fall of Kismayo
It is too early to celebrate the defeat of al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s Somalia-based affiliate. Though al Shabaab withdrew from a major stronghold in Kismayo, a port city in southern Somalia, this weekend, a series of questions must be answered before declaring the end of the terrorist group.
- How will al Shabaab reconstitute itself? The loss of Kismayo could strengthen a core group of leaders who believe in regional and global jihad. How? By untethering them from the insurgency in Somalia.
- Who will control Kismayo? Al Shabaab held the city, the hub of Somalia’s charcoal industry, for the past five years. It is now free for the taking, which could pit Ethiopian proxy clan militias against Kenyan proxy clan militias. The unified vision of the pro-government alliance for Somalia stops at the defeat of al Shabaab. Stability might be a longer time coming.
- Where to from here? Capturing Kismayo is supposed to defeat al Shabaab, so say the regional military commanders. Is there a contingency plan for when al Shabaab survives the blow? Will AMISOM and allied forces continue to pursue al Shabaab? Or was Kismayo the destination and the end of their fight?
Stay tuned in to AEI’s Critical Threats Project for answers, which is tracking developments in Somalia.
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