“Kenya has prepared troops that comprise of Kenyans and Somalis, who are trained to attack and take over the regions,” Sheikh Hussen told Andalus radio on Sunday, referring to press reports that Kenya had trained some 2,500 Somali troops for the Sheikh Sharif government. “They are planning to attack us on the land, sea, and air. We are urging people to be ready and defend our land.”
Somalia has been at near-constant war since the fall of its last functioning government, the dictatorship of President Siad Barre in 1991, so the current uptick in violence can be seen as just another sad chapter. But the Sharif government sees its current offensive as a chance to finally push back against the Al Shabab militia whose ties to Al Qaeda and use of suicide bombers make it an international menace. This might mean more hardship in the short term, experts on Somalia say, but it might mean more stability in the long term.
“Certainly in the short term, any concerted military offensive against Al Shabab is going to have humanitarian consequences, but the hope is that in the long term this can lead to a resolution of the conflict so that people can get on with their lives,” says E. J. Hogendoorn, director of the Horn of Africa Project at the International Crisis Group’s office in Nairobi. “This is a chance for the government to show the public, in places where they don’t control territory, that they can provide services and to show they are a functioning government.”