War in Somalia (2009–)
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The 2009–present phase of the Somali Civil War is concentrated in southern Somalia. It began in early February 2009, with the conflict between, on the one hand, the forces of the Somali Transitional Federal Government assisted by African Union peacekeeping troops, and on the other, various militant Islamist factions. The violence has displaced thousands of people residing in Mogadishu, the nation's capital.
Established in 2004 and internationally recognized, the Transitional Federal Government's (TFG) support in Somalia was waning until the United States-backed 2006 intervention by the Ethiopian military, which helped drive out the rival Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu and solidify the TFG's rule. Following this defeat, the ICU splintered into several different factions. Some of the more radical elements, including Al-Shabaab, regrouped to continue their insurgency against the TFG and oppose the Ethiopian military's presence in Somalia. Throughout 2007 and 2008, Al-Shabaab scored military victories, seizing control of key towns and ports in both central and southern Somalia. At the end of 2008, the group had captured Baidoa but not Mogadishu. By January 2009, Al-Shabaab and other militias had managed to force the Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the country, leaving behind an underequipped African Union (AU) peacekeeping force. A power sharing deal ensued between an Islamist splinter group led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia Djibouti faction (ARS-D) and TFG Prime Minister Nur Hassan in Djibouti. Al-Shabaab, which had separated from the moderate Islamists of the insurgency, rejected the peace deal and continued to take territories. It was joined by Hizbul Islam, which is an amalgamation of four Islamist group including the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia - Asmara faction. Another Islamist group, Ahlu Sunnah Waljama'ah, which was allied with the TFG and supported by Ethiopia, continues to attack al-Shabaab and take over towns as well although they have been effective only in the central region of Galguduud, where they ousted al-Shabaab from most of the region.
After the parliament took in 275 officials from the moderate Islamist opposition, ARS leader Sheikh Ahmed was elected TFG President on January 31, 2009. Since then, the al-Shabaab radical Islamists have accused the new TFG President of accepting the secular transitional government and have continued the civil war since he arrived in Mogadishu at the presidential palace in early February 2009.
Islamist-ARS/TFG coalition conflict
On February 4, 2009, four Islamist groups, including Hassan Dahir Aweys' Eritrean branch of the ARS merged and created the group Hisbi Islam, to fight the new government of Sharif Ahmed. al-Shabaab also vowed to fight the government. On February 8, 2009, they declared war on the new government of Sharif Ahmed and the AU peace-keepers.
New TFG President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed arrived in Mogadishu as a president for the first time on February 7, 2009. The al-Shabaab and other radical Islamists began firing at the new TFG president hours later. They accused the new President of accepting the secular transitional government.
On February 8, heavy fighting broke out in southern Mogadishu. However, al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur).met with Sharif Ahmed for peace talks during his visit to Mogadishu, while Omar Iman rejected the president. During these negotiations Sharif Ahmed said he would be prepared to enforce Sharia Law in Somalia, which is currently the hard-liners' main demand. Mukhtar Robow, however, denied having talked to Sharif Ahmed and vowed to continue fighting until his demands for Sharia Law were met. Sheik Mukhtar Robow is not the (Al-Shabab) leader. He was Al-Shabab spokesman who has since resigned the position. According to the article titled  Al-Shabab Leader Speaks More Fighting in Mogadishu in All Africa web site on May 13, the real leader for Al-Shabab is Sheikh Muktar Abdirahman Godane. To paraphrase Gettleman’s article titled The Most Dangerous Place in the World, Somalia nowadays could be worse than Iraq or Afghanistan because it does not have strong government. It has a lot of problems including, but not limited to, conflicts between the Transitional Federal government and Al-shabab fighters, pirates, hostage takers, and thieves who have show no mercy. "I’ve felt the incandescent fury of the Iraqi insurgency raging in Fallujah. I’ve spent freezing cold, eerily quiet nights in an Afghan cave. But nowhere was I more afraid than in today’s Somalia, where you can get kidnapped or shot in the head faster than you can wipe the sweat off your brow," Gettleman Jeffery said.. Sheikh Mukhtar Robow warned Nigeria against sending peace keepers to Somalia, al-Shabaab views the AU peace keepers as occupying forces and says to continue fighting them until they withdraw from the country.
On February 10, al-Shabaab launched an offensive to take the Bakool province. Government officials who had been ousted from Baidoa had been amassing troops in the city of Hudur (Xudur) and planning a major offensive to re-take Baidoa. Islamist forces attacked the province and reached the capital were they started a battle against government forces.In Galmudug, Clan militia took the town of Masagaway from al-Shabaab. There was also fighting in Warsheekh.
On February 12, the spokesman for al-Shabaab Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur) rebuffed reports from several media outlets thata mutual agreement between him and newly elected president Sharif Ahmed was made. He also added that he had no intention to contact the presidenton any matters, and that they would continue fighting against foreign troops and what he described as an “apostate" government. The same day they vowed war against the new government.
On February 22, a double suicide bomb attack on an AU base in Mogadishu left 11 Burundian soldiers dead and another 15 wounded. Two days later heavy fighting erupted in the city as TFG and AU forces attempted to retake the city from radical Islamist forces. The fighting lasted for two days and killed 87 people, including: 48 civilians, 15 insurgents and 6 TFG policemen.
At the same time as the fighting raged in Mogadishu al-Shabaab forces took the town of Hudor, to the north-west, in fighting that killed another 20 people: 10 TFG soldiers, 6 insurgents and 4 civilians.
On February 28, it appeared that Hisbi Islam would sign a ceasefire with the Transitional Federal Government. However, by March 1, it was clear that no ceasefire would be given, despite President Sharif Ahmed having agreed to proposals for a truce and having offered to accept the implementation of Sharia Law but refused to move troops from civilian areas despite the Islamists doing so.
On May 6, al-Shabaab announced that it would continue the war even if AMISOM withdrew.
May 25, the government announced an immediate blockade on airstrips and seaports under insurgent control to stop the flow of weapons reaching them.
On May 7, a fierce battle for control of Mogadishu started between al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam against the ICU. Hundreds were killed and injured and tens of thousands were displaced. By May 11, rebel forces gained the upper hand and made large gains taking over most of the capital. Fighting continued until 14 May and, though they came close, the rebels didn't manage to overthrow the government. There were new rounds of fighting all through August.
On June 19, the transitional parliament speaker Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nuur Madobe asked the international community to send foreign troops to Somalia within the following 24 hours. He stated that that the government's power is on the verge of being defeated by Islamist forces in the Somali capital. The Cabinet declared a state of emergency and Somalia asked for help from neighbors Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen. Ethiopia refused saying intervention needs an international mandate. On June 21, a spokesman for the al Shaabab Islamists said they would fight any foreign troops. al-Qaeda also made threats against Kenyan intervention.
June 22, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed declared state of emergency in the country as a new round of fighting in Mogadishu left 12 dead and 20 injured. Hundreds were said to be fleeing the cityJuly 4, Sheik Abdinasir Jalil, a former commander of the training for ICU administration in Beledweyn town joined Hizbul Islam with is men and vowed to fight TFG forces in the city and attack Ethiopian forces in El-gal village, which lies 18 km from Beledweyn. He said that the government officials want to bring Ethiopian troops inside town and that is the reason they switched sides. Former ICU officials who joined Hizbul Islam, held a press conference and announced that the ICU administration in Hiraan had collapsed as they joined the insurgents. Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf, top security commander in Beledweyn also defected along with his forces. General Muktar Hussein Afrah was sent to Beledweyn along with TFG troops and put in charge there by the TFG as the ICU administration had collapsed. Many ICU officials including MPs resigned that day next to Sheikh Abdinasir Jalil Ahmed (head of training) and Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf (head of security); Sheik Osman Abdulle Barqadle, the army commander of Ugas Khalif airport, and Sheik Abdullahi Garamgaram, the deputy chief of the emergency forces also resigned.
In response, TFG forces led by general Muktar Hussein Afrah started military manoeuvers in the East side of the city.
July 17, two French security advisors to the government were captured by insurgents. The Somali government gave permission for French commandos to launch operations inside Somalia to free the 2 French nationals that held by al-Shabaab. On July 22, French warships and helicopters were seen near the ports of Mogadishu and Marka as France declared they would undertake military operations to free the two French military advisers who had been captured by insurgents.
al-Shabaab-Hizbul Islam split
Heavy fighting broke out on October 1, 2009 in Kismayo, shattering the alliance between al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam which had together run the town. Relations between the two groups controlling it have soured in late September. The two factions had agreed to share power in Kismayo, with each governing for six months alternatively. But clan politics reportedly caused the rotation to fail when al-Shabab refused to relinquish the administration. By the afternoon, Al-Shabaab controlled most of the city with 12 dead and 70 wounded. At least 17 people were killed in during a series of battles overnight on October 5. A spokesman for Somali rebel faction Hizbul Islam has said that they captured 'foreign fighters' during battles against Al Shabaab. On October 7, two separate clashes took place near Janay Abdalla village in Lower Jubba region. The first attack took place around 4am local time when Al Shabaab fighters were ambushed and forced to retreat.
Insurgent attacks in Mogadishu targeting Somali government forces and African peacekeepers (AMISOM) have decreased since the eruption of fighting between Hizbul Islam and Al Shabaab.
Recruitment from Kenya
According to press reports, Somali and Kenyan government officials have recruited and trained Somali refugees in Kenya and Kenyan nationals who are ethnic Somalis to fight insurgents in Somalia. However, the Somali chief of military staff and spokesmen from the Kenyan government have denied this.
On May 28, 2 Ethiopian soldiers, 1 Ethiopian civilian, 2 Somali soldiers killed, 4 Somali civilians (working for the government) and 4 Somali insurgents, were killed when insurgents attacked a convoy in carrying Omar Hashi Aden who was returning back from his visit to Ethiopia.
On May 31, Ethiopian forces launched search and seizure operations in Hiraan, in Kalaberyr village, near Beledweyn.
On June 12, Ethiopian forces with several battle wagons entered in Balanbal town in Galgudud and set up military bases.
On June 14, the Ethiopian military said it had come to fight foreign mujahedin which the military described as "foreign enemies of Ethiopia and Somalia" and launched operations to search for them in Balanbal town which they control. Sheik Hassan Ya'qub Ali, head of the information affairs for Islamic administration in Kisimayo warned the Ethiopians that "there is no candy and dates to eat from here in Somalia. But the men who chased you forcibly from the country are here in Somalia."
The suicide bombing on June 18 targeted a meeting between TFG and Ethiopian commanders.
On June 19, Ethiopian forces entered Bakool and reached Elberde town. They withdrew after holding talks with local clan elders.
June 22, Ethiopian forces started launching search and seizure operations in Kala-beyrka intersection in Hiran region.
The Ethiopian government then announced it would not intervene without an international mandate.
June 30, Ethiopian forces entered El-gal and Ilka'adde villages which are less than 20 km north of regional capital Beledweyn. Reports from Kala-beyrka intersection say that more extra troops from Ethiopia crossed from the border.
July 4, Ethiopians withdrew from their bases in Banabal town in Galgudug.
July 18, Ethiopian forces vacated their bases in Yed Village in insurgent-controlled Bakool region.
- On February 22, a double suicide bomb attack on an AU base in Mogadishu left 11 Burundian soldiers dead and another 15 wounded.
- On May 24, a suicide car bomber killed 10 people, including 6 government soldiers, wounding 9, including 4 government soldiers.
- On June 18, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the Medina Hotel in Beledweyne, killing 35 people. Among the dead was Omar Hashi Aden, Somalia's Security Minister.
- On September 17, 2009, 17 soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in a suicide attack by Islamist rebels on the headquarters of the African Union force in Mogadishu. At least four civilians were also killed and more than 10 wounded. 12 of those killed were Burundian soldiers and five were Ugandan. Among the dead was the AMISOM deputy commander Maj. Gen. Juvenal Niyonguruza, from Burundi. Also, one of the wounded was AMISOM commander Gen. Nathan Mugisha, from Uganda.
- December 3, a female suicide bomber killed at least 17 people, including 4 Somali ministers (Health Minister Qamar Aden Ali, High and lower Education Ministers Pro. Ibrahim Hassan Adoow, Abdullahi Wayel, Sports and youth Minister Saleman Olad Robleh) and 2 journalists, over 60 people were injured. Al-Shabaab was suspected to be behind the attack.
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|War in Somalia (2009–)|