April 02, 2010

Quick Take: The Battle for Mogadishu

The terror threat posed to the United States emanating from Somalia has grown with relative impunity for the past few years. The militant Islamist group al Shabaab has taken control of most of southern and central Somalia, where it has set up Islamic administrations that govern in a manner resembling that of the Taliban. The group operates terrorist training camps, has threatened the United States, and views itself as part of the global jihad led by al Qaeda. 

It now appears, however, that the weak Somali government is on the brink of launching a military operation to wrest control of the capital Mogadishu from al Shabaab. A successful operation, which is far from guaranteed, will not solve all of Somalia’s myriad problems, but the operation does represent the best effort so far to put al Shabaab on the defensive and establish a functioning government that may be able to provide basic services and a degree of security for the Somali people.

The Critical Threats Project has produced an operations briefing paper laying out the objectives, major players, and considerations involved in the much-anticipated battle for Mogadishu.