Somalia: Al-Shabaab Attacks African Union Peacekeeper Base

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The Facts

  • The al-Qaeda-linked armed group al-Shabaab attacked an African Union (AU) Transition Mission base in southern Somalia on Friday. The base houses Ugandan troops who are part of the AU's peacekeeping mission in the country.

  • A Somali army captain said that there were heavy casualties on both sides. Base officials reported that militants hit the compound using cars and suicide bombers, to which the mission and its allies responded with airborne reinforcements that destroyed the fighters' weaponry as they retreated.

The Spin

Narrative A

Al-Shabaab's recent attacks prove that the resilient extremist group remains Africa's most capable terrorist organization. Even international support, a clan rebellion, and both a popular backlash and recent US military re-engagement have failed to change the fact that al-Shabaab maintains influence over vast swaths of central and southern Somalia. Unless there are serious negotiation efforts made and Somalis and non-Somalis stand to mutually benefit from the peace effort, there will be no end to the forever war against al-Shabaab.

Narrative B

The latest attacks are a setback, but they cannot disguise the fact that the Mohamud government has achieved considerable success in the fight against al-Shabaab in recent months. Added to this are international support and growing resistance from clans and the enraged population. Therefore, it is surely no coincidence that al-Shabaab now suddenly seems open to negotiating with the government.

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