Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is seeking to extricate his country from the deep well of terrorism, which has claimed the lives of civilians and military alike, as he visited the state of Jubaland in a move aimed at combating terrorism rooted in the south of the country.
According to a statement from the Somali presidency, the visit on Thursday, March 2, aimed to accelerate the second phase of the military operation against the terrorist Al-Shabaab movement and to launch a plan to liberate five governorates included in the campaign, namely Lower Juba, Middle Juba, Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle. President Mohamud met with the administration of the Jubaland region and asked them to move forward in efforts to combat terrorism.
Uniting forces to eliminate terrorists
According to the official Somali News Agency, the Jubaland authorities are carrying out military attacks in rural areas against the remaining elements of Al-Shabaab, with the aim of alleviating the suffering of civilians and opening safe passages.
President Mohamud demanded a concerted effort to eliminate terrorist elements, noting that “the second phase of military operations will be launched in the state of Jubaland.”
The Jubaland region consists of three main governorates: Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Gedo. Middle Juba is under the complete control of Al-Shabaab, which controls nearly 75% of the entire state.
Substantial step in the war on terror
Abu al-Fadl al-Isnawi, editor-in-chief of the Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya magazine, said in an exclusive statement to the Reference that the military operation in Jubaland is facing great difficulties due to the internal political differences and the difficult terrain of its regions.
The lack of a large popular force supporting the army on the ground due to the length of the period in which Al-Shabaab was in control led to the population being influenced ideologically by the movement, Isnawi stressed, adding that the region is very sensitive and important to the al-Qaeda-affiliated movement.
He pointed out that if the state of Jubaland is completely liberated from Al-Shabaab, it will be an substantial step in the war on terrorism in Somalia.
Sheikh Mohamud’s messages
For his part, Nasser Mamoun Essa, a researcher on African affairs, said that President Sheikh Mohamud’s visit to Jubaland carries several messages, the most important of which is the completion of local reconciliation, and secondly, the completion of the declared war against Al-Shabaab to uproot the movement, especially since it controls the Juba region.
In a special statement to the Reference, Essa confirmed that the Somali presidency has drawn up its plan to implement the promise made by President Mohamud himself to eliminate the movement’s activity within two years of assuming control.
He added that the visit aimed to overcome the obstacles facing the campaign in terms of internal disputes, the difficult topography of the region, and the lack of popular momentum supporting the campaign due to the movement’s long-term control over the region.
According to Essa, the Somali president’s field visits to the hotspots are sufficient to give strong impetus to his campaign and his forces to spread a sense of control and approaching victory over the terrorist movement.