Southern Somalia’s militant giant al-Shabab, the only leading force that is still wielding considerable political, social, and economic clout and the most formidable force that remains an obstacle to Sheikh Sheriff’s otiose and corrupt administration, has taken one further attempt to overrun Galgadud region currently controlled by ASWJ-the Sufi-led faction that just finalized an agreement with the TFG. Despite beating the drums of war loudly and pronouncing a declaration of war against al-Shabab and despite the TFG mobilizing its forces for a final onslaught, al-Shabab is seemingly emerging a force to reckon with. Its marvelous application of covert and overt battle operations, its ability to mobilize forces, its meticulous garnering of public support through the use of diplomacy, radio and cyberspace communication, its adroitness at manipulating tribal elders, and its meritorious skill of tendering support to minority clans for the sake of weakening and deracinating powerful tribes that pose threat to its survival, and its undaunted will to survive unparalleled hardships and challenges remain tools yet to be discovered by its avowed enemies inside Somalia’s murky political waters.
Al-Shabab has even become skillful at controlling international aid agencies operating in the areas under its control by requiring them to abide by stringent laid out rules and regulations otherwise they risk being kicked out of the country. The recent altercation between the World Food Program (WFP) and al-Shabab where WFP ultimately pulled out of southern Somalia revolved around al-Shabab’s demand that WFP buy local Somali farmers produce instead of bringing in expired relief supplies to the country and distributing as a humanitarian gesture to an already famished and displaced war-afflicted persons.
Al-Shabab’s refusal to allow WFP run its relief operations has led to massive starvation of residents of ceelasha biyaha and opened a new round of hostilities with a select group of council of elders supported by the hierarchy of Hizb al-Islam who feel al-Shabab is imposing sanctions on their tribal enclaves where majority of their kinsmen or followers reside. The enclave in question-ceelasha biyaha as it is called or the water wells-is roughly a few miles to the north of the town of Afgoi-where the largest concentration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who escaped the shelling in Mogadishu resides.
So far the said council of elders has issued a decree denouncing the actions of al-Shabab and to that effect are convening an assembly that include the top echelons of Hizb al-Islam who will collectively deliberate on the most effective countermeasures to take. Sooner or later a deadly clash of titans could be expected should al-Shabab continue to stubbornly deny the said IDPs access to WFP’s relief supplies.
Ironically, many Somalis, presidential observers, and political analysts are bewildered and dumbfounded at President Sharif’s peripatetic itinerary. His travel plans bring into play a passion for endless merrymaking and craving for leisure travel, red carpet receptions and deafening twenty-one gun salutes, all-you-can-eat buffets set around intricately and articulately designed manicured lawns, and accommodation at five-star hotels with continental breakfast to share with an inflated procrastinating entourage lacking guided protocols and principles.
To make matters worse, the absence of accountability and national security and the absconding of duty by those who took the oath of allegiance to the constitution have made the current Transitional Federal Government headed by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed wallow in pathetic corruption and remain absorbed in indeterminate situation.
Shocking revelations of embezzlement and mismanagement of donor funds, political bickering and the higgledy-piggledy nature of its bloated parliament, the exodus of highly-priced, newly-trained, and tribally-inclined troops switching allegiance then joining jihadi camps, and the tiptoeing of the colony of political chameleons hiding in its midst seem not to be signaling its ultimate salvation but its timely and imminent death.