Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen movement
Translated by CIAES
Although Somalia lies in an important area in Eastern Africa, close to an African passage that is regarded a significant in international trade, and it has elements of nation-state regarding common religion, language, and sect, it has been experiencing a destructive civil war, following Siad Barre regime collapsed in 1991 when the Somalis loyalties directed towards tribes rather than Somalia. This turned Somalia into a failed state represents a supportive environment for Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen movement to appear in 2007.
In its statement, Al-Shabab showed intentions to create Islamic state in African Horn and fight regular troops, foreign troops in Somalia, Ethiopian troopsthat invaded Somalia, and other movements opposing their ideology. These actions caused the US to list Al-Shabab asan international terrorist group on February/29/2008.
Responding to that, Al-Shabab welcomed American decision, alleging that the US falsely accuses any movements opposingit, that Al-Shabab will stick to its strategy.
From 2007 to 2011, Al-Shabab was able to take control over 80% of the center and south areas of Somalia, then it applied its strict laws to theseareas that resulted in losing tribal and popular support, which had gained by fighting Ethiopian forces.
In 2011, African Union Mission to Somalia managed to reverse the movement gains by liberating Mogadishu and other strategically important areas, suchas Kisabo. InSeptemberof 2014, an unmanned American jet killedthe leader of Al-Shabab Ahmed Abdi Godani, which confirmed by Al-Shabab, vowing to retaliate brutally.
Nevertheless, Al-Shabab was able to reorganize itself, thus, it has continued with its military operations whether in the capital or outside Somalia, such as Grissa University incident in which 147 students killed.
Researchers agreed that Al-Shabab was founded publicly following its separation, as a military wing forms the Islamic union courts in 2007.
Beginning of the emergence:
Researchers disagreed over the period when Al-Shabab was established, but it may be right to say that it was a consequence of the Islamic Union courts which has existed in Somalia since eighties decade as a strict Whabbi Movement , which made several interpretation for Islam resulted in disagreement among members of the movement itself.
– Islamic union courts was thought as a substitute for the Somali collapsed regime, after it had taken control over Mogadishu for six months ,but Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 contributed to disbanding that union, which paved the way for the Al-Shabab emergence in the September of 2007. Al-Shabab rejected the idea of collaboration between Somalia opposition and union courts members, accusing them of giving up Jihad and supporting secularists, that it had described the Somalia government as renegade.
Ever since, Al-Shabab has put itself forward as the most powerful front on the ground, benefiting from the popularity that it had gained by fighting and defeating Ethiopian troops, which forced Ethiopia to withdrew its troops from Somalia in 2009.
Al-shabaab subordination to Al- Qaeda and possibility of Al-Shabab joining ISIS after its leader death
On February / 9/2012,TV channels and internet means issued an audio in which Ayman Al-Zawahi, leader of Al-Qaeda since 2011 when his predecessor Osama Bin Ladenhad slain by an American attack on Pakistan, declared that Al-Shabab has formally joined Al-Qaeda.
That move has put an end to a long-old controversy between researchers over whether Al-Shabab is part of Al- Qaeda or it is independent of the latter but it agree with it ideologically. That trend was depended on Al-Shabab leader’sspeeches denoting that there is ideological agreement between them, especially in terms of supportingand applying AL sharia laws, denying that they are part of Al-Qaeda.
In a televised program on Al-Jazeera in 2009, Meqtar Roboo, a leading member of Al-Shabab, said that the positive relationship between Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab stems from ideological agreement, but it has not reached formal unification yet.
Having lost its ability to recruit Jihadists, especially after ISIS emergence, a well-known organization for its efficiency in using media means in its interest, and Boko Haram decision to pay allegiance to ISIS, Al-Shabab could join ISIS in our opinion. This can strengthen ISIS in African Horn and complicate the situations.
Al-Shabab’s ideological framework
Al-Shabab believes that powerful players, such as Ethiopia and the US for their own interests exploit Somalia.
Seeing as Al-Shabab tries to apply Al Sharia laws in Somalia in future, that its resistance will continue to do that and to unify Somalia as well.
As long as Al-Shabab regards the current political system run against Islam rules, it must not recognize or deal with it. In addition, Al-Shabab does not believe in patriotism and geographical frontiers, laying emphasis on allegiance in particular.
Al-shabab major aim is to liberate Somalia from Ethiopia and its allies, peace keepers troops (multi-national force), and Somali seculars who are considered disloyal to Somalia itself. After that Islamiccaliphate based on Wahhabi ideology must be applied in African Horn, as well as unifying Somalia
Al-Shabab attitudes towards warring parties in Somali
Al-Shabab imprecates and legalizes killing any party not conforming to their ideas, as follows:
Somali classical scientists:-
Al-Shabab has a long-term strategy to get rid of Somali religious classical leaders, and forbade its members from following religious instructions not complying with their ideology, that Al-Shabab describes prominent religious leaders, such as Ibn Baaz and Albani as renegades.
-presidents of Somalia and their allies:
Because of their cooperation with the west and not governing according to Quran, Somali presidents, such as Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed and Sharif Sjeikh Ahmed and so forth have thought to be traitors and renegades.
-Amisom forces and western countries:
For Al-Shabab western-backed Amisom are occupiers and want nothing just to destroy Somalia and kill its people, that it must fight them.
Western countries, and the US in particular are also thought by Al-Shabab as infidels and seek to sabotage Muslims, that the jihad is obligatory against them as a Muslims’ principle.
Future scenarios on Al-SHabab inside Somali
There are several expected scenarios as follows:
-Although, Al-Shabab follows hit-and-run strategy, and they often come back to areas in which they are defeated,there is a possibility of defeating Al-Shabab by Somali government in collaboration with African union troops, especially after liberating important areas, such as Mogadishu and Kisabo.
On the other hand, Somalia is still suffering from lacking of state’s institutions, which may take a long time to appear seriously. This can facilitate the armed opposition to get their intentions done by expanding their influence, especially after creating ties with jihadist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and Meles Zenawi death,which enabled them to have ties with opposition Islamic groups in Ethiopia.
In addition, Somali armed opposition are expected to pay allegiance to ISIS, if that happens ,it will be so difficult to disintegrate them, as they can rearrange themselves.
-Despite Al-Shaba is facing enormous difficulties, such as its internal conflict resulted in a number of its members to hand themselves over to regular army and peacekeepers, losing popularity that gained by fighting Ethiopian troops, and also loosing important financial sources, such as Kismayu port, it is possible that Al-Shabab can retake the liberated areas.
-Possibly, Hussan Sheikh Mahmoud, Somalia’s current president, to resort to dialogue with Al-Shabab, afterfailing to resolve the crisis militarily, and the weakness that the government suffers from.
In our view, despite Al-Shabab is facing difficulties right now, but that does not mean its disappearance is approaching, That is, Al-Shaba is making use of the geographical factor in terms of hit- and-run and guerilla warfare, tribal conflicts, and the weakness of the current government. This can help Al-Shabab to rearrange itself, specifically if it pays allegiance to ISIS.
Al-Shabab members can follow the same scenario as they followed after disintegrating Islamic court union, which paved the way for Al-Shabab emergence, that is to say, even if Al-Shabab disbanded , it is possible for its members to form a new movement, follows the same ideology.
Seeing as foreign troops in Somalia, international and regional interventions, somalia’s weak governments, absence of effective Arabic role, and widespread famine beside deteriorating humanitarian situation, that Somalia armed opposition will continue with its approach. Consequently, it is vital to resort to peaceful means to put an end to the conflict and retrieve Somalia powers in African Horn.
It is forgone conclusion, that state’s weak institution, lack of national integration, simmering role of tribes, and internet, can play significant role in preserving Al-Shabab existence in Somalia.
Obviously, the US, Ethiopia, and Kenya influence in Somalia, amid absent Arabic role contribute to destabilizing Somalia.
Arabic role in Somalia is not tantamount to regional and international interventions. It is just concentrating on relief support, that is , it is lack of a clear strategy and stance on neighboring countries’ political and military interventions in Somali, amid growing role of the US,Israel, Ethiopia and Kenya in destabilizing Somali.
On the other hand, decision and efforts of reconciliation suggested by Arab countries and Arab league have not taken effect yet, for lacking of Arabsupport that paves the way for Somalia’s neighboring countries to determine Somali scene in the light of their interests alone.
Furthermore, many states, including Syria and Libya in particular, are expected to follow the Somali scenario as a failed state, unless achieving national integration, keeping state’s institutions, prioritizing national interests over parties ones.