Africa ponders Somalia mission after 9 years of killing
In less than nine months’ time, the African Union’s military mission in Somalia will have been in the troubled country for a decade.
In that time, hundreds of soldiers from across Africa have been killed fighting al-Shabaab militants who sprung out of the country’s civil war in the 1990s.
Although concrete figures are hard to come by - largely due to the reluctance of the troop-contributing nations to publicize military losses - the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute conservatively estimates that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) lost more than 1,100 soldiers between January 2009 and December 2014.
This level of losses has led many in the countries providing soldiers to question the mission’s strategy and tactics and ask "Is it worth it?”
Political analyst Muwanga Kivumbi, who is also an Ugandan lawmaker, said that, as in warzones around the world where an international force has attempted to rely heavily on a military solution, the situation in Somalia will not be solved solely through the use of armed might.
"You cannot go to a foreign country with your military boots and guns blazing to sort out a political issue,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Kivumbi’s country is one of six to have provided troops to help quell the al-Shabaab insurgency. The others are Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Sierra Leone. Nigeria and Ghana have also sent police officers.
He points to the international, rather than purely regional, aspect of the conflict - al-Shabaab, which swore allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012, has threatened ships in the Indian Ocean and recruited fighters from around the world, including the West.
The group has also targeted civilians in large-scale terror attacks both in Somalia and neighboring countries, notably Kenya and Ethiopia.
"We only went in to aid the mission of the Europeans,” Kivumbi said. "The Americans were taught a bitter lesson in 1993, so they don’t want to risk their soldiers.”
Last Modified: 2016-04-28 09:59:51
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