Somalia: Jubaland threatens to attack SNA forces after takeover of Gedo districts
KISMAYO, Somalia - Jubaland forces are ready to respond "firmly" against SNA troops over the scramble for the Gedo region, a top official has said, terming the invasion "naked aggression".
After the weekly cabinet meeting in Kismayo, Abdi Hussein, the Jubaland information minister, said the retake of Beled-Hawo and Dolow districts amounts to "territorial violation" by the federal government.
The tussle between Ahmed Madobe and President Mohamed Farmajo is taking shape at Gedo, a region where the former has a massive following.
So frosty has been the relationship between the two that Mr. Farmajo has reportedly resorted to "intimidation" to capture the district which comprises most of his clansmen.
What necessitates Jubaland's approach?
The current standoff was precipitated by the takeover of Beled-Hawo and Doloow districts, which borders Kenya and Ethiopia on Tuesday.
Over 700 troops from Turkish-trained SNA contingent raided the two districts, taking over from Jubaland forces who had retreated, reports indicated.
By taking over the two districts, FGS is keen to further destabilize Jubaland administration in a quest to push Madobe out of power, analysts claim.
Mr. Hussein had said, "we don't want to start a war in the region thus our forces retreated from the border towns of Balad-Hawo and Dolow to avoid a fight."
Thus, the SNA troops did not face any resistance while capturing the town from the unsettled Jubaland administration during the encounter.
Possible armed struggle looming
But despite the effortless takeover, rebellion is looming, which could escalate to a possible genocide in the coming days.
Jubaland security forces, Hussein said, will respond to the aggression by defending the territory of the troubled state.
He said: "Our troops will respond to the naked aggression by FGS in Gedo. We have kept quiet for long and time to hit back is here."
The minister said FGS's actions are "unacceptable and should be met with equal forces" from the state's security team.
While the region is semi-autonomous, it has its own operational security forces, government, and even an independent judiciary.
What's the genesis of the standoff?
Although the two factions have had a strained relationship for two years, Tuesday's actions may have been informed by the predicaments facing Abdirashid Janan.
Mr. Janan, the Jubaland security minister, escaped from NISA-run detention in Mogadishu where he was facing "serious crimes" charges.
The minister, with the aid of guards, traveled to Kismayo by boat before sneaking to Nairobi via a chartered plane, sources said.
On Monday, he allegedly arrived at Gedo, where he enjoys massive support, aboard a KDF chopper, before sneaking out to Mandera in Kenya.
In a letter, Somalia termed him "a dangerous fugitive" adding that "we need your support to have him re-arrested to face charges for murder and torture".
He's accused of perpetrating mass murders within Gedo by Amnesty International, which also sanctioned Kenya to extradite him.
Somalia has since warned Kenya against "interfering with our internal politics and we shall not accept it at all" in a letter dispatched on Tuesday.
The US calls for dialogue
Donald Yamamoto, the US ambassador to Somalia, called for "genuine and honest" dialogue between FGS and federal states on Wednesday.
Opposition in Somalia led by FNP has been accusing Farmajo of "manipulating regional polls in preparation for rigging" during December polls.
While Farmajo has managed to penetrate Hirshebelle, Galmadug, and Southwest, Puntland and Jubaland have proved threatening for him.
America said, "dialogue will expand the space for inclusivity and will reduce frictions emanating from pre-election competitions".
Somalia is anticipating first universal suffrage polls in December, but stakeholders are yet to settle in the model.
Gedo conflict is dangerous for Somalia's security.
If the conflict persists, thousands of residents in the region could be displaced, and Al-Shabaab could also get a room for penetration.
David Goldman, a security strategist says "These activities signal possible genocide which he is accused of orchestrating in Johwar."
He adds: "The escalation of tensions is not only worrying but puts long-term allies like Ethiopia and Kenya against each other."
While Kenya has openly supported Jubaland administration, Ethiopia, another key ally of Somalia, is said to be backing the ongoing aggression.
KDF troops man sections of Jubaland together with Ethiopian AMISOM forces, a move that could further trigger a major fallout in the region.
Should Jubaland unleash soon, KDF and ENDF troops could be caught off guard due to the conflicting interests of Addis Ababa and Nairobi.