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Al-Shabaab attack on Kenyan base – reassurance to its members and a threat to the outside (report)

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Somali analysts saw the attack on the “Manda Bay” anti-terrorist air base in Lamu district, eastern Kenya, by the “Youth” movement, as part of the face-saving framework of the failed military operation against the US base in Balad Ugli town in southern Somalia last September.

And last Saturday, the “Manda Bay” military base bordering Somalia, which includes units of the American and Kenyan forces, was attacked by suicide bombers by “Al-Shabab” fighters, killing three American soldiers and destroying helicopters and military vehicles.

Face-saving

analysts have differing opinions about the timing and significance of the attack on al-Qaeda.

There are those who linked it with the response to the harsh American strike against Al-Shabaab militants last September while they were trying to target the American base in Balad Ugli town in southern Somalia.

And some of them were of the opinion that the attack was an attempt to cover up the bloody bombing in Mogadishu last December 28, which sparked division among the movement because of its many civilian victims.

While others went further, the attack was a message that the movement was able to carry out quality operations despite American air strikes in its strongholds.

Ismail Tahir, a former deputy head of the Somali Intelligence Agency, tells Anatolia that the attack on the Kenyan “Manda Bay” base was not at all surprising, although it came late, that is, about 3 months after his attack on the American base in Lower Shabelle province was thwarted, and all the attackers were killed.

Ismail notes that the movement’s reaction was expected after this strike, at least to save face after this failure.

He believes that the youth fighters seek to raise the morale of the elements of the movement, who have become vulnerable to American air strikes by attacking the base in Kenya.

However, what is strange is the targeting of the air base, as revenge was expected within the borders of Somalia, especially in the heavily guarded military areas., According to Ismail.

However, he returned and said that targeting the anti-terrorist base, which includes units of the American and Kenyan forces, may carry other indications that the movement may strike American targets inside and outside Somalia.

Last September, US forces thwarted an attack on its largest base in Somalia, after targeting a vehicle carrying “al-Shabaab” fighters planning to attack.

Camouflage of its supporters

and the bloody bombing at the X Control intersection in Mogadishu, at the end of last December, which left more than 80 civilians dead and injured about 140 people, including students, a wave of anger in the ranks of the movement, especially youth leaders.

In turn, Abdel Fattah Ibrahim, the former deputy to the president of the Lower Shabelle region, where the movement is active, says that the December bombing showed a difference in positions within the movement, especially when it adopted the responsibility of the bombing due to the fall of a large number of civilians, which prompted it to carry out a specific attack to divert the attention of its supporters from the massacre.

Abdel Fattah adds that there are bloody explosions that have caused differences in the movement’s ranks, such as the Shamo Hotel bombing in 2006, which led to the dismissal of leaders inside the movement after they objected to the civilian casualties in large numbers.

He goes on to say that the exclusive photos, published by sites affiliated with the movement, indicate an exaggeration in the attack, which gives the impression that his aim is to reassure some of the movement’s leaders.

External messages

For his part, political analyst Mohamed Othman believes that the youth movement aims from its attacks outside the borders of Somalia to pressure the countries whose forces operate under the umbrella of the “AMISOM” forces to withdraw them from the country.

He notes that, after any attack by young people deep inside Kenya, calls are increasing for Kenyans to demand the withdrawal of their country’s forces from Somalia to reduce terrorist attacks.

Earlier, the US command in Africa, Africom, announced that it had carried out 45 air strikes in 2019 against the strongholds of the Somali youth movement.

Implications and repercussions

As for the indications of the attack on the Kenyan base, the Somali Shafi’i researcher believes that it appears that it comes in the midst of American air strikes targeting the followers, leaders and strongholds of the youth movement.

He points out that the attack bears the indication that the movement still represents a threat to the American presence in the Horn of Africa, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti, in addition to the fact that the movement wants to raise the morale of its elements as a result of dwindling its operations against American targets deployed in the region.

Upton considers that this latest attack showed a military planning force for Al-Shabaab fighters, in choosing targets and the accuracy of their implementation at a stage that the movement appears to be gradually weakening as a result of the American strikes and the movement of Somali forces on the ground, especially from the trained forces in Turkey, which liberated several areas in the south of the country from the movement’s grip .

As for the implications, there are several possible scenarios in response to the Al-Shabaab attack and the killing of American soldiers.

Among these scenarios, according to Upton, the escalation of US air strikes on the strongholds of “youth”, which would undermine the movement’s movements day and night.

He explained that this would undermine its military influence by targeting royalties collection points and military training centers that extend throughout the country.

There is another scenario of a Somali-African military move towards the southern regions, which have been under the control of the movement for 10 years, in order to liberate the entire south, especially the central Juba region.

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