Op-Ed: Is the Character of War with Al-Shabaab in Somalia has Changed

Somali military kills 28 al-Shabaab terrorists in 48 hours

By: Mohamed Mohamoud Muse

Locals from the Hiraan region in central Somalia have started to oppose Al-Shabaab’s conduct after indiscriminate attacks against locals, and after Al-Shabaab destroyed their waterwalls and communication masses. It seems that bloodshed angered the locals who stood to take arms to change the character of war with Al-Shabaab. The situation significantly changed the way government forces engaged with Al-Shabaab, and how the country’s political and social tensions evolve. The matter was between life and death if the security situation continued and pose a significant challenge to disrupting terrorist acts in the future. The nature of the war with Al-Shabaab in the Hiraan region has substantially changed by sentiments of the population which is applauded.

The desire of the local community to protect themselves from the threat of Al-Shabaab changes the security situation faster than expected, however, this requires constant coordinated efforts with additional counter-terrorism measures that should remain fairly standing. The threat has changed in the recently liberated areas of the Hiraan and Galgadud regions and requires a comprehensive understanding led by the local administrations with the support of national forces to minimize impacts that remain high. The will to fight against the extremist’s group of Al-Shabaab requires the capability of taking control of areas captured, and forcing motorists to hold grounds they removed from Al-Shabaab, and not the other way round where some politicians create confusion after they reported themselves in the absolutely incorrect field, instead they should have limited only to mobilize local community and provide moral support to locals and government forces battling with Al-Shabaab. On another hand, the attractive target to Al-Shabaab as a group generally may not be limited to only extremism, instead, they will wear tribal shirts where the threat could turn into revenge killing which can be very substantial. The rapid and profound change led by the Hiraan people to override, and even destroy Al-Shabaab existence in the Hiraan region is a change of war with Al-Shabaab. Seemingly could be a strategic focus on how the Somali military will engage with Al-Shabaab fighters in the future and this this of kind of counter torism measures must sustain.

Concerning the recently liberated areas, an immediate rule of law must be established so the national security system can operate, keep the progress of security measures sustained, find a way to motivate locals and security forces in a sustainable way. The decisive move by the locals in the Hiraan region is not something that cannot be reversed, because this can be described as a tried-and-true technique that worked so vast. This has been appraised and inspiring, but must be continued, even when things are tough on the battlefield because that is exactly why locals were so powerful as ordinary which forced the government to realize their potential. Initially, the change in the mindset of the people was so effective, though challenging to face with Al-Shabaab at that level. To arm locals to fight terrorists could be a good strategy and effective in the short term, however, it’s not awesome in the long term due to the fact it may impede efforts to lift the arms embargo for the country. In another word, critically weighing the situation, future issues of violent conflict between clans cannot be ignored as a result of weapons seized from Al-Shabaab which could discretely remain in the hands of the locals, if no clear demilitarization plan is in place.

As a result, weapons recovered from Al-Shabaab and those provided by the government can be a new threat to national security. It’s also, obviously the military activities in the recently liberated areas have a huge impact on the fabric of social life, and therefore effects are huge. people indeed experienced trauma from a direct fight with extremism, and warfare, and they need a way to cope with the recent situation and must be supported in anyhow. Furthermore, the government must coordinate all efforts to rehabilitate destroyed institutions, schools, hospitals, roads, and telecommunication networks, and must encourage the business community to establish urgent business development plans to allow local communities to immediately recover from unforgiving situations.

Also, a rehabilitation plan to integrate the local clan militias into the different parts of the national and regional security forces must be in place for long-term national security. This is to avoid discouraging national security agencies, including the national army who are battling with Al-Shabaab in the remote areas. Also, giving arms to non-combats may not fall under the national arms regulations and local laws which armed forces strictly observe during the provisions of the use of force, so national forces would be weapon custodians to the clan militias to avoid further security dilemmas. On the other hand, there is no proper oversight mechanism provided, disarming them in the later stage could cost a lot to the government and local administration, and therefore the long-term associated risks of increased criminal economic activity and renewal of clan clashes cannot be discounted. Likewise, due to the fragile rule of law in Somalia, and at no time to justify certain security issues, the risks that arms turn into clan revenge and the criminal group remains high.

Consequently, since the way locals fight with Al-Shabaab has changed, this also changed the security situation. It’s expected that Al-Shabaab could pressure local clan militias to withdraw or plan to wage a direct war against those that support government forces as they did in Beledwayne on 3 October 2022 where 3 vehicles born improvised explosive devices are attacked at the key Hiraan regional administration headquarters.  Al-Shabaab will continue to employ technology to improve its information collection which is likely becomes more widely available on the internet through social media, and they will utilize that source of information to the greatest extent possible to maximise the risk of exposure to clan militias.

About the Author

Mohamed Mohamoud Muse, MA in Sustainable Peace, MA in Peace, and Security, Pgd in Peace and Conflict Studies, & BA.



Skype: mmohamoudmusa

Mogadishu, Somalia

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Horndiplomat editorial policy.

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