Al-Shabaab grabs golden opportunity to rally the Somali population after Ethiopia’s integration into AMISOM
By Harar24’s Editorial Team
Al-Shabaab’s latest attack on the presidential palace which left dozens of people dead combined with the surge in attacks carried out by the group around many of Somalia’s provinces has left many people overwhelmed and astounded. Can these events however be ruled as haphazardly or are there factors that are contributing to the ever increasing attacks by Al-Shabaab and the recent increase in its popularity?
According to many the biggest factor aiding Al-Shabaab and increasing its popularity was the recent decision to integrate the Ethiopian forces into the AMISOM, despite knowing that Ethiopia is considered as Somalia’s archenemy by many, despite Aknowing the deep rooted hatred that Somalis have for the Ethiopian forces, despite knowing that the very presence of the AMISOM was introduced to the Somali public due to the fact that the previous Ethiopian presence was creating a lot of hostility against the then Transitional Government & the Ethiopian forces, the AMISOM still agreed to integrate the Ethiopian forces, a move considered lethal by many.
With these factors in mind Al-Shabaab has grabbed the opportunity to rally the Somali population and to ignite the flame of the Somali hostility towards the Ethiopians in an attempt to unite them under one common cause, to “expel Ethiopians from Somalia”. Al-Shabaab has used every possible means available to them to fulfill this, be it media, organizing large rallies, inciting local clan elders & tribal leaders, assembling religious leaders and figures to pass religious verdicts to that effect. In other words, it seems that Al-Shabaab is aiming for a “total war” whereby they desire to expel the Ethiopian forces.
In the last few days, Al-Shabaab has been organizing large demonstrations and protests in different parts of the country under their control. These protests are attended by all classes of people, average Somali men and women, influential figures, clan elders and leaders and religious figures. One of the biggest protests was held in the city of Buloburde in the Hiran region, where men, women and elderly were seen hoisting weapons and the black Al-Shabaab banner while chanting anti-Ethiopian slogans. Interestingly days before that, twenty one religious leaders from various regions also held a conference in Buloburde where they passed a fatwa (religious verdict) declaring that “resisting the Ethiopian invasion” was an “obligation” on everyone. Needless to mention, the assembly of scholars and fatwa were hailed and welcomed by Al-Shabaab.
The impact of the Ethiopian integration has also been felt in Mogadishu, were popularity for the government and the AMISOM are diminishing. In fact, some residents report that some districts are “no-go” areas for government troops and officials, to the extent that the appointed chiefs for those districts live elsewhere out fear for their own safety. On the other hand, this has bolstered Al-Shabaab’s popularity, who roam certain districts at night, telling people that “the Ethiopians are coming” to “kill them, rape their women and loot their wealth”, such reminders are usually concluded by telling residents “we are here for you, we are your protectors”.
According to numerous sources and residents Al-Shabaab are becoming more daring and bolder in their attacks in Mogadishu, where the nightly raids are turning into broad day light attacks. Such attacks are reminiscent to the attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab throughout 2007 during which the Ethiopians were also present and seen as “occupiers”.
It’s clear that Al-Shabaab are playing their political and strategical cards well, above all, it’s passing a subtle but clear message to the public “we are your only guardians against your sworn enemies, the Ethiopians”.
Some pictures from Pro-Al-Shabaab website on protest against Ethiopia in Buloburde