Friday, November 26, 2010


Somalia: Shabaab losing grip of backers

Public support for the militant group al-Shabab appears to be fading amid reports of a schism within the leadership, with many sympathizers and backers now expressing doubt about the organization.  Abdirahman Masud Fara, whose name is an alias, was a stern supporter of al-Shabab but now says he no longer trusts the group.

“I have been blindly supporting al-Shabab thinking they are a nationalist movement who are fighting an enemy that has invaded our country,” Fara said.  “Little did I know they had hidden agendas and that they are actually not who they claim to be. They are using the religion for their own selfish gains.”

According to media reports, there is a power struggle within al-Shabab between Sheikh Mukhtar Robow and Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubeir, also known as Ahmed Godane.  The rift within al-Shabab appears to have opened during the militant group’s recent Ramadan offensive, which left hundreds of al-Shabab fighters dead in clashes with AMISOM troops and forced al-Shabab fighters to pull back from several areas of Mogadishu.

“Al-Shabab fighters no longer roam at night,” said a resident who lives in an al-Shabab stronghold who did not wish to be named.  “I don’t know why, but they are seriously worried. It seems like the recent infighting has affected the group. They are much weaker and are fast loosing public support. No one likes them anymore. They have become an outcast.”

The discord within the al-Shabab has become a blessing to the Transitional Federal Government, which now enjoys some respect and leverage within Mogadishu thanks largely to the African Union peacekeepers.

 “The people of Somalia know the conduct of interim government officials,” the resident added.  “Al-Shabab wants to force us to support their foreign ideas and culture. Somalia is a homogenous community that will never change. It’s just a matter of time before al-Shabab disappears.”


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