June 01, 2010

Quick Take: The Partitioning of Somalia Strengthens Islamists

Internal developments in Somalia have increased the threat to the UN-supported Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The TFG does not have access to sufficient resources to ensure its own survival. It controls little territory within Mogadishu; Islamists have nearly taken control of the entire city, except for the presidential palace, the airport, and the seaport. There is an extremely limited government presence outside of the capital, and the strongest pro-government military force is the group of militias that fight under the Sufi umbrella group, Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a. Al Shabaab has continued to strengthen its control over southern Somalia and Hizb al Islam, which has been forced northwards into central Somalia, has begun to mirror al Shabaab in form and practice.

Critical Threats has an analysis of the current situation in Somalia that focuses on the following key points:

  • A partitioning of southern and central Somalia between al Shabaab and Hizb al Islam has weakened the opposition to al Shabaab and increased the Islamist threat to the Transitional Federal Government.
  • Hizb al Islam has become increasingly similar to al Shabaab in character and cannot be seen as a “moderate” alternative to al Shabaab.
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a is the only real challenger to radical Islamist domination outside of Mogadishu, but its acceptance of Ethiopian aid may taint its victories in the eyes of the general Somali population due to historical tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia.

Please see the Gulf of Aden Security Review for a daily brief on the situation in Somalia.