Monday, 1 October 2012

Fall of Kismayo

The fall of Kismayo to AMISOM (Kenyan Defence Force) and Somali government forces followed an unexpected withdrawal from the city which has provide significant sources of revenue for al-Shabaab since its capture by the Islamist group in 2008. This failure to defend the city fits into a pattern followed by the group since it conceded control of the nations capital to the Somali government and AMISOM in August 2011. Since then the Islamist group has withdrawn from a number of major towns including Afgoye, Afmadow, Baidoa and Marka rather than confront the overwhelming fire-power of AMISOM forces - this advantage has been particularly notable through the use of helicopter gun-ships and fighter aircraft by the Kenyan Defence Forces.

While the loss of towns and territory may have a severe effect on the ability of al-Shabaab to collect revenue and organise training centres of its fighters the group has nevertheless managed to preserve much of its already battle-hardened forces - not withstanding the defection of some possibly second-tier units. Still, despite the loss of Kismayo and other major centres the groups still maintains control over large areas of southern Somalia and continues to pose a threat inside urban centres as recent attacks in Mogadishu clearly demonstrated. 

Following the success of capturing Kismayo the task of securing and governing the city will now pose new challenges to the Somali government and AMISOM. These challenges have already been covered in a series of excellent papers and articles that should provide any reader with an excellent introduction to the complexities of governing post-Shabaab Kismayo.

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