A possible opening in Somalia

There was an important new development in Somalia on September 1, 2014.  The supreme commander of al-Shebab, Ahmed Godane Brawa, was killed by an American air strike while he was in his motorcade not far from the group’s key strong point in Brawa.

Godane was a total tyrant and megalomaniac. Not only did he assassinate suspected opposition within the movement, he got rid of his closest associates. He also gave the movement an external focus, preferring to do terrorist attacks outside of Somalia in order to enhance his reputation in the international “Jihadist” movement. The majority of al-Shebab militants want to work within Somalia in order to establish their “Sharia” state there first.

I can’t prove it, but I am sure that he was betrayed by someone close to him, probably the nominal second in command, Muktar Robow who had essentially been sidelined.

Godane’s designated successor, Ahmed Umar Dirieh, has already been installed, and has sworn to take revenge against the Americans.

All this is happening against a background of slow but significant military defeats of al-Shebab by AMISOM, the coalition of African Union troops from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. Shebab has lost most of its sources of finance and re-supply of arms.

I believe the time might be right for neutral Somali elders to reach out to some of the leaders of Shabab to try and arrange a peace deal that would grant amnesty to bring some of the leaders into the mainstream political system that is slowly taking shape in Mogadiscio. It is a long shot, but I can’t think of better timing.