Al-Shabaab still major threat in Somalia

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Al-Shabaab still remains a major threat to peace and stability in Somalia, a report compiled by the United Nations Panel of Experts [PoE] has suggested, further indicating that the country must work extremely hard to completely crush the militants.

The Al-Qaida linked group has been in existence for the last 15 years and it has managed to kill thousands of innocent civilians, security forces, and government officials. The group is dominant in Central and Southern Somalia according to the report.

Currently, the new report by the UN Panel of Experts [PoE] is being circulated. The report covers the period between December 2020 and September 2021 and gives an overview of how the militants have been wreaking havoc in Somalia.

According to the experts, Al-Shabaab remains the greatest threat to the peace, security, and stability of Somalia; generates enough revenue to sustain its insurgency for the foreseeable future. PoE estimates that Al-Shabaab operates around 100 checkpoints throughout the country.

This means the revenue collected by the weak and fragile UN-backed Somalia administration could be insignificant to what Al-Shabaab manages. The revenue is used to sustain the unscrupulous activities of the group.

Further, the report notes that charcoal exports are on hold, but Al-Shabaab is exploiting the impact of climate change by providing communities with protection from flooding, acting as a service provider to communities that receive little support from the government, this may lead to new challenges on how to address insecurity.

The experts say they have identified 60mm mortar rounds, with characteristics consistent with 60mm M73 HE manufactured in 2016 in Serbia and exported the same year to Saudi Arabia. The same type of mortar round was fired by Al-Shabaab on 17 Feb 2020 in the direction of the UN compound in Mogadishu

An M4 assault rifle has been identified; to the knowledge of the Panel, this represents the first time an M4 rifle [5.56 × 45mm] has been seen in the hands of Al-Shabaab. The Panel also identified military equipment previously delivered to the Federal Government of Somalia.

This means individuals in government and some countries could be supporting the activities of the group, which still controls large swathes of rural central and southern Somalia. By estimate, most parts of the country are now under Al-Shabaab.

The exports will investigate ramifications on peace and security in Somalia, specifically the role of Eritrea-trained Somali recruits, the majority of whom remain in Eritrea, but some of whom have returned to Somalia [news to me that some returned] to provide unspecified security functions.

Somalia is still building an army after decades of downfall and currently, they largely depend on security forces from the African Union, who have been in the country for a couple of months. The experts suggested that there is a need for the forces to continue staying in Somalia.

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