Al-Shabaab changes tactics after a major defeat in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Multiple reports from various battle fronts have indicated that Somalia-based Al-Shabaab reverted to an old strategy, which analysts believe is a clear confirmation that the militants have started ceding some of the strategic places to the Somali National Army [SNA].
For the last couple of months, the SNA soldiers with assistance from the US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], and local militia, have managed to topple the militants from some strategic towns, further weakening the group, which has been predominant in rural Somalia.
Based on the recent liberation of Wabho town, the group is believed to have changed strategy, reverting to the old-fashioned and traditional strategy of ordering residents to leave towns and villages as government troops enter, avoiding possible confrontation and deaths.
The Orwellian strategy, residents say, was previously used in towns like El-Bur in an apparent effort to deny government development relations with locals in captured areas. The Al-Shabaab radicalizes locals against the government of the day and pretends to offer assistance to the population.
By driving locals out, members of the army get disillusioned and eventually leave the liberated town, thus allowing the militants to recapture it again. Already, reports indicate that the Al-Shabaab has already retaken Wabho town just a few hours after losing it to the SNA.
On Sunday, former HirShabelle President Mohamed Abdi Waare claimed there were people in and outside the government undermining the fight against Al-Shabaab after recent military setbacks in the operations to capture key militant strongholds.
“After the withdrawal of the SNA from Wabxo and the deterioration of clan fighting in Adale, it is clear dark forces in and outside government are jeopardizing the fight against the Khawaarij [Al-Shabaab],” he tweeted. “Sad thing, it is an open secret. It is the time to confront this group and stop them.”
In recent weeks, the Somali troops have deserted towns and villages they captured during weeks of operations against Al-Shabaab. The withdrawal came after insurgents overran a number of army bases, killing soldiers and seizing military vehicles and weapons.
In a rural area seized from militants in the Middle Shabelle region, inter-clan fighting has been continuing for days, leading to the death of more than 40 people and the destruction of villages. There have been unconfirmed reports of involvement by troops sent to fight the insurgents.
Somalia is battling to rebuild its national army while reclaiming most towns that were under the Al-Shabaab militants. According to the US Africa Command, the dangerous Al-Qaeda-linked group has been losing ground in most parts of the country, with the army now urged to be "a bit consistent".