Somalia: Harakat al-Shabaab “Gobbles Up” Hizbul Isam

By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

On December20, Hizbul Islam (H.I.) folded its tent and migrated under the encampment of Harakat al-Sbababb Mujahiden (H.S.M.), leaving H.S.M. with a monopoly over armed opposition to Somalia’s Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) supported by the African Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM.

The dissolution of H.I. as an independent organization and its absorption into H.S.M. was preceded by H.I.’s retreat to its last stronghold on the outskirts of Mogadishu, the Afgoe distrinct, having been militarily defeated in the strategic town of Burhakabe on the road from Mogadishu to Baidoa, and in its heartland, the Lower Shabelle region, apart from the Mogadishu suburbs.

As H.S.M. advanced on the Afgoe district in mid-December, H.I.’s leadership was faced with the decision of whether to cave into H.S.M. or make a last stand. After conferring among themselves, they reached the decision to “resist” and to attempt to defend the suburbs of Afgoe and Elasha Biyaha. H.I. had reportedly constructed defenses on the edge of Afgoe. Its leader, Sh. Hassan Dahir Aweys, proclaimed: “We will die for Afgoe or win from Shabaab.”
On December 16, local media reported that both sides were reinforcing their fighters, especially H.S.M. The internally displaced people in the Afgoe corridor were frightened and the T.F.G.’s president, Sh. Sharif Sh. Ahmad, called for H.I. and H.S.M. to end their conflict and spare the I.D.P.s. The situation was suspended in tension.


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