In recent weeks Somalia saw an uptick in attacks by Al-Shabaab (AS). Consequently, these attacks targeted civilians and local officials. The increase in attacks by the insurgent group comes in the aftermath of Somalia electing a new president, who has vowed to control AS and stem its attacks. The Somali government has been in a struggle with AS for the past 16 years.
To help prevent the continued operations by AS, the United States has opted to reverse Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Somalia and send American soldiers back to the country. This is through fear that Somalia could end up like Afghanistan where the Taliban have once again taken control.
Key Judgement 1: It is highly likely that Al-Shabaab will continue to increase its number of attacks in the next 6 months against both civilian and government targets.
- On the 20th of July 2022, Al-Shabaab launched a heavy assault on two villages in Somalia’s South Western Bakool region. (source)
- In May Al-Shabaab launched a deadly attack on an African Union military base in Mogadishu. This attack killed at least 50 people. (source)
- Furthermore, on the 27th of July 2022, Al-Shabaab claimed to have carried out a suicide bombing in the city of Marka, southern Somalia. Al-Shabaab has said the attack was a targeted killing of Abdullahi Wafow, the District Commissioner. (source)
Key Judgement 2: Al-Shabaab attacks will highly likely bring them into direct conflict with the US with troops redeploying to the country in the next 6 months.
- On the 17th of July 2022, the United States carried out its latest drone strike on Al-Shabaab. This attack killed at least two members of the militant group in Libikus, Somalia. (source)
- Additionally, AS is an Al-Qaeda affiliate committed to removing US influence in all Muslim countries. Therefore, Al-Shabaab is increasingly focused on its enemy from afar. (source)
- The US mission in Somalia is aimed at reducing the number and frequency of Al-Shabaab attacks, which increased at least 17% since US troops left the country. (source)
- Furthermore, Al-Shabaab has a history of targeting US troops in the region. In 2020 they mounted a cross-border attack in Kenya which killed three US military personnel. (source)
Key Judgment 3: It is likely that Al-Shabaab will widen the scope of its attacks to include more countries that border Somalia, especially Ethiopia, in the next 6 months.
- On the 21st of July 2022, Al-Shabaab launched a heavy offensive in the Somali region of Ethiopia. At least 500 AS militants were involved in the attack across the border which killed at least 87 local policemen. This is AS’s largest incursion into Ethiopia to date. (source)
- The attacks in Ethiopia are undoubtedly an attempt by AS to show that they can operate on three fronts – Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. (source)
- Furthermore, Al-Shabaab will view this as the ideal time to conduct operations in Ethiopia given that the country is fighting a civil war in the North. (source)
Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 01st August 2022