Somali President Sheikh Ahmed today pledged to use his transitional government’s forces to “rein in” the local insurgent groups, and promised that they would stop them from launching future attacks against other countries.
Exactly how Ahmed plans to do this is unclear, as his domestic forces are trivial compared to the larger insurgent factions, and have been unable to maintain control beyond a few city blocks in Mogadishu, centering around his presidential palace. Even this has only been accomplished with the backing of thousands of international troops.
But the issue is a pressing one for his government, such as it is, in the wake of major attacks in Uganda and promises from al-Shabaab, the largest of the insurgent groups, to launch more attacks unless Uganda withdraws its troops from the nation.
Uganda, for its part, says they are prepared to send another 2,000 troops into Somalia in retaliation for the attacks, which were themselves retaliation for a number of attacks on civilians by the Ugandan troops already in the country.
This promise of escalation from both sides is setting up a battle in which African Union troops are no longer in the nation simply to prop up the self-styled government, but rather fight insurgent groups whose existence, again, is more about resisting the foreign occupation than doing anything about the increasingly irrelevant “government.” For the Ahmed government this could easily push them into the far periphery of international intervention in Somalia, and its survival, always at the pleasure of international supporters, could rapidly become an afterthought.