Africa Failing in War Against Al-Shabaab, Says US Army Chief

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A US army chief has warned that Africa is failing in its war against militant terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

Gen David Rodriguez, head of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), said the fight against Al-Shabaab is failing because African Union (AU) forces are overstretched and the Somali national army suffers “endemic deficiencies”.

 

Al-Shabaab fights back

Somalia’s most prominent terrorist group Al-Shabaab, which has direct links to Al-Qaeda, lost large amounts of territory to AU and Somali forces last year. The militants appeared to be largely on the backfoot in the second half of 2015, forced into remote areas of the country. However, Al-Shabaab has made a resurgence towards the end of last year and Gen Rodriguez fears Somalia’s efforts against the group are suffering.

“Under-governed areas outside the reach of the Federal Government of Somalia will continue providing Al-Shabaab with territory in which it can evade security forces and continue targeting East African regional governments and security interests as well as European and American interests,” he said.

 

Overdependence on foreign forces

Gen Rodriguez also expressed concern over Somalia’s dependence on foreign forces, highlighting leadership problems and divisions within the country’s army.

“The Somali national army remains dependent on foreign forces to conduct operations and is challenged by leadership, logistical support and clan factionalism,” he told the US Senate panel.

Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab are carrying out “almost daily lethal asymmetric attacks in Somalia against AMISOM troops,” he noted.

The general recommends an increased effort by the US and other powers to improve the state of Somalia’s forces. A stronger Somali military, he feels, will be able to play a more effective role in the war against Al-Shabaab and allow the country to stand on its own much sooner.

 

Featured image: Public domain.