Issue 719 - Page 11

On May 03 , Al Shabaab fighters stormed an African Union base in near Ceel Baraf , a village some 160 kilometres ( 100 miles ) northeast of the Somalian capital Mogadishu and killed at least 10 Burundian peacekeepers and wounded 25 in heavy fighting . The Burundi ’ s army said 20 Al Shabaab militants were also killed .

It was the first such attack on a peacekeeping base since the AU Transition Mission in Somalia ( ATMIS ) replaced the previous AMISOM peacekeeping force on April 1 . Under a UN resolution approving its creation , ATMIS is projected to gradually reduce staffing levels from nearly 20,000 soldiers , police and civilians to zero by the end of 2024 .
ATMIS is made up of the same troops as AMISOM from Burundi , Djibouti , Ethiopia , Kenya and Uganda . Its mission is to help Somali forces take responsibility for security in a country .
A week later , on May 11 , at least four people were killed and seven injured in a suicide attack near Mogadishu airport . The airport was at the time designated as a high-security bastion in which the presidential elections would be held on May 15 , just four days away then .
The suicide car bomber detonated just as presidential candidates were heading into the airport to address MPs . None of the lawmakers was killed . The Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack .
On May 15 , Somalia ’ s parliament elected a new president , Hassan Sheikh Mohamud , to replace the embattled Mohamed Abdullahi .
On May 16 , U . S . President Joe Biden ordered the redeployment of American troops to Somalia . The move reverses an order from Biden ’ s predecessor Donald Trump , who in late 2020 pulled nearly all U . S . forces from Somalia
On May 17 , newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud thanked his U . S . counterpart for ordering the redeployment of American troops to Somalia .
“ The US has always been a reliable partner in our quest to stability and fight against terrorism ,” the president ’ s office posted on Twitter . cover story
The timeline of the moves by al-Shabaab and Presidents Joe Biden and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have provided interesting analysis about coincidences and motives behind them .
How to handle the Somalia counterterrorism campaign has been a major question , for the U . S ., the African Union and states contributing peace-keeping forces , and international agencies such as the United Nations . Some have been concerned about legal and policy issues while others have dwelt on logistical challenges .
The United States has pursued a two-pronged approach in Somalia by providing financial and logistical support to AMISOM and conducting counterterrorism operations , including drone strikes and special operations forces raids , against suspected al-Shabaab militants .
Since 2007 , the United States has provided more than half a billion dollars to train and equip African Union forces battling al-Shabaab .
Time for talks
Al Shabaab fighters controlled Mogadishu until 2011 when they were driven out by AU troops . They are opposed to Somalia ’ s federal government and have been fighting the Somali government and African Union Transition Mission since 2007 .
Experts say that although al-Shabaab is seen as a hardline organisation , it has shown signs in recent times that it wants to be a political actor in Somalia .
“ It may be willing to come to the negotiating table ,” the expert report says , “ Relying on Somalia ’ s clan elders
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