Somalia: Army Remains ‘Incapable’ of Dislodging Al-Shabaab, U.S. Says


Somalia’s army remains “incapable” of ousting Al-Shabaab from its strongholds, enabling the insurgents to exercise continued control over large parts of the country, the US State Department said on Wednesday.

As another indication of failure to stifle Shabaab militants after 13 years of counterinsurgency warfare, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group last year carried out more than 1,000 attacks inside Somalia and in northern Kenya, the State Department noted in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2019.

The Somalia section of the annual global survey estimates that Al-Shabaab has between 7,000 and 9,000 members.

Funding

The group funds its actions through “illegal charcoal production and exports, taxation of local populations and businesses, and by means of remittances and other money transfers from the Somali diaspora,” the report adds.

The State Department does not offer an estimate of the size of Shabaab’s war chest.

Targeted operations carried out by Somali military units trained and equipped by the United States are said to stand as exceptions to the national army’s ineffectiveness.

But the report makes no mention of the intensified campaign of air attacks launched by the US Africa Command (Africom) against Al-Shabaab targets.

Africom carried out 63 such strikes last year, compared to 47 in 2018 and 35 in 2017.

Security reforms

Somali officials “failed to implement vital national security reforms and pass legislation that could help enhance the government’s capacity to secure and govern effectively at all levels,” the report observes.