Strider the Ranger brings some positive news about an area that really needs a boost of good news – Burkasrugly
Yesterday the Voice of America news service announced that African Union soldiers led by the Kenyan Defense Force had taken control of Kismayo, Somalia. Kismayo is a port city on the Indian Ocean about 328 miles southwest of Mogadishu (of Blackhawk down infamy). It was the last major city held by the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group
Al-Shabab. Kismayo is the third largest city (population 185,000) in Somalia. Al-Shabab levied taxes on all the goods flowing into and out Kismayo which proved to be a lucrative source of revenue for the terrorist group. In addition they were using Kismayo’s excellent port as a source of importation of weapons, ammunition and foreign fighters.
After a buildup lasting several weeks the forces of Kenya, Somalia (the good guys) and Djibouti began the final push during the last week. The Kenyan airforce with fighter jets and helicopters softened up the Al-Shabab positions. Next the Kenyans seized the airport for the refuelling of their helicopters. On Friday Kenyan amphibious forces landed from the Indian Ocean on the eastern side of the city. The Kenyan Navy supported this landing by shell fire into the city and on the landing beaches. Now Al-Shabab was caught in the squeeze play by the Kenyans converging both from the east and west sides of Kismayo. It was a classic hammer and anvil situation. Many of the Al-Shabab jihadis simply ditched the weapons and melted into the general population. The African Union will continue to mop them for a long time to come. But Al-Shabab has decisively lost Kismayo and they are not getting it back any time soon.
In short it refreshing to know that the radical Islamists are not on the path to inevitable conquest. For one thing the locals were sick and tired of their rigid enforcement of brutal Sharia law. If you lose the support of the local population that’s half the game. Also, the Kenyans deployed their air, naval and land forces in a very effective manner. And thirdly, the Kenyans understand the value of coalitions and knew how to build them. All though the overwhelming number of troops were Kenyans there were also elements of the Somali national army, several local Somali tribes and the Djiboutis. Even some units of Al-Shabab defected to the Kenyan side when they understood the jig was up. And lastly the troops were trained by both British and U.S. soldiers. A careful analysis of the photographs reveal Kenyan troops wearing American Kevlar helmets, desert tan boots, and web gear.
Back in Mogadishu the Ugandans and Burundis are controlling that city having chased out Al-Shabab in November of 2011. Recently a national parliament was elected; the first functioning government since the year 1991. Maybe, just maybe, Somalia’s twenty year-long nightmare is ending. This failed state may be on the mend. And the days of being a terrorist haven could be ending for the tortured people of Somalia.
Let us hope and pray so.
Strider the Ranger