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Al-Shabaab (Al-Shabab) - 2012

Somalia Map - 2012-1013 During 2012 al-Shabaab changed its overall structure, making it much leaner and better able to undertake asymmetric warfare. The group established four regions, each under an overall commander, with a striking resemblance to the AMISOM sector disposition, with the exception of Mudug (Puntland), Hiraan and Galgadud, which have all been brought together, highlighting the growing importance of these three regions for Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab relocated much of its manpower and equipment to areas such as Bulo-Burte (Hiraan) and Golis Mountain (Puntland), where the Somali National Security Forces and allied militia had a limited presence. The groups media platform remained an effective tool for the recruitment of fighters and the mobilization of funding for its activities. In view of the movements of Al-Shabaab, the African Union envisaged working with IGAD member States on a joint border patrol and control initiative to stem the flow of foreign fighters and other criminals.

Omar Jamal, Charg daffaires of the Permanent Mission of Somalia to the United Nations, underscored 03 April 2012 the ongoing threat posed by Al-Shabab in Kenya, as well as Somalia. That group, now aligned with Al-Qaida had recently carried out attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa, and he encouraged the Kenyan Government to take the matter very seriously, for the safety of its own citizens and of the thousands of Somali refugees in that country. As an example of some of the challenges transitional authorities now faced, he said that the huge military gains that had realized with the ouster of Al-Shabab from many regions of the country had also led to new and costly responsibilities to promote development and economic revitalization in the reclaimed areas. The lack of funds was also hampering efforts to gather the expertise need to draft a new constitution, he added.

Tremendous progress was made in the political process in Somalia. In August 2012, the Somali stakeholders completed the remaining milestones for ending the transition, which began eight years ago. On 25 July 2012, the 135 traditional elders selected 825 delegates to constitute the National Constituent Assembly, which adopted the provisional Constitution on 1 August 2012. The traditional elders, acting in accordance with the Garowe I and II principles, and supported by the Technical Selection Committee, also nominated the Members of Parliament to form a new Federal Parliament. This body then proceeded to elect its presiding officers and, subsequently, a new President for the country.

Although the process of selecting the Members of Parliament was marred by internal clan disagreements, allegations of bribery and intimidation and concerns that the womens quota might not be filled owing to cultural resistance, it still resulted in the desired outcome, namely the formation of the new Federal Parliament. Subsequently, the new Federal Parliament steered the process towards the presidential election, beginning with the establishment of an election commission, the adoption of the criteria for presidential candidates and the nomination of candidates. The presidential election was conducted on 10 September 2012, with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud emerging as the winner.

The year 2012 witnessed further progress on the ground as the Somali National Security Forces and AMISOM continued to expand their areas of control. While Al-Shabaab had been significantly weakened, it still retained the ability to strike. The attempt made on the life of the President on 12 September 2012 at Al-Jazeera Hotel, where he was conferring with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, attests to this threat.

In Sector 1 (Banadir, Lower and Middle Shabelle), following the capture of the strategic town of Balaad, the Somali National Security Forces and AMISOM gained control of Km 50, which was used as a base for the operations that subsequently made it possible to seize Shalamboti and the strategic seaport of Marka. On 4 September 2012, the Somali National Security Forces and AMISOM captured the seaport of Elman within the Balaad district. Cordon and search operations were also conducted in the areas of Eelasha Biyaha and Lafoole, which harbour Al-Shabaab elements that continuously carry out attacks against positions of the Somali National Security Forces and AMISOM. The threat dynamics in Sector 1 continued to pose a danger to AMISOM and the Somali forces owing to a lack of force multipliers and overstretched communication lines.

Significant progress has also been made in Sector 2 (Lower and Middle Juba) during 2012. In the first half of September 2012, the Somali National Security Forces and AMISOM seized the towns of Miido, Harbole and Bibi on the road between Afmadow and Kismayo. Somali and AMISOM forces then proceeded to secure the town of Jana Abdallah on 17 September 2012. Finally, on 28 September 2012, the operation to capture Kismayo, a key hub for Al-Shabaabs funding, was launched. The city came under the control of AMISOM and the Somali forces on 30 September 2012. The capture of Kismayo highlighted the critical role of maritime assets and capabilities in the ongoing campaign.

Indeed, the complex operation that led to the capture of Kismayo involved patrols along the coast, as well as an amphibious assault on the beaches of the city. At the time of finalizing this report, preparations were under way to expand the operations of AMISOM and the Somali forces to Jilib and Jamame. While fleeing Kismayo, Al-Shabaab planted numerous explosive devices and destroyed local infrastructure such as markets, water points and schools. Many civilians, fearful of being caught up in the crossfire, fled the city.

The Somali National Security Forces and the Ethiopian National Defence Forces have registered further gains in Sector 3 (Gedo, Bay and Bakool). Important towns in Gedo, Bay and Bakool had been liberated. However, the vastness of the area and the peculiarities of the terrain have allowed Al-Shabaab to establish a presence in some villages. Furthermore, AMISOM deployed 1,060 troops from Burundi and Uganda to this sector. In the coming weeks, additional troops were redeployed from Sector 1.

In Sector 4 (Galgadud and Hiraan), while Al-Shabaab has been pushed out of Beletweyne and Mataban districts, it maintains a presence in the southern and western districts. AMISOM has deployed 235 soldiers and 35 vehicles from Djibouti in Beletweyne. The deployment of the main body of the Djibouti contingent to Beletweyne should be finalized by the end of October 2012. The first convoy of the Djibouti contingent-owned equipment left on 29 September 2012 and was expected to arrive on 5 October 2012. The Ethiopian National Defence Forces, which maintain a presence in Beletweyne, provided support to the troops from Djibouti. This sector continued to receive large numbers of Al-Shabaab operatives, thus raising the threat level, including the threat of improvised explosive devices, with possible destabilizing effects for Sector 1.

Following the liberation of Marka in Sector 1, Kuday natural port in Sector 2 and Kismayo, the town of Baraawe became the main source of revenue for Al-Shabaab and a critical node for its supply line. The poorly monitored maritime corridor from Yemen to Somalia also remains a conduit for the flow of foreign fighters and material support for Al-Shabaab.




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