In a boost to Somalia’s rocky path towards peace, over 200 agents of the militant islamist group al -shabaab have surrendered to the African Union peace keeping mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
For the last two decades, the absence of a central government in Somalia, has galvanized al-shabaab’s control of the southern and central parts of the country . They implemented a radical form of Sharia law in the region and vigilantly recruited Somalis from North America and around the world to terrorize people that they deemed to be enemies of islam. For five years al-shabaab held Mogadishu at hostage, pirating the high seas and extorting money from locals farmers to fund their guerilla war tactics. However since 2010, al-Shabaab’s strength has been weakened by the growing presence of AMISOM which has intensified measures to bring stability to the country.
AMISOM’s efforts have been rewarded with significant successes; by 2011, al-Shabaab had been driven out of Mogadishu. In June 2012, Somalia held it first elections in two decades and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was sworn in as president. Al-Shabaab has retaliated with several suicide attacks including a brazen assasination of a local MP early in September. Nonetheless, there are growing signs that the morale of this extremist group has been weakened. On September 24th, over 200 al-shabaab militants surrendered to the AMISOM. Stephen Mugerwa, the commander of AMISOM has urged other militants to lay down their weapons. Heeding this call, the Ahmad Ali Militant militant group also surrendered to the AU (African Union) and Somali government troops. In yet another setback to al-shahaab, on Tuesday morning, Kenya military working with the AU bombed Kisamoya airport destroying al-shabaab’s cache of ammunition.
Undoubtedly, the newly formed Somali government is determined to cap the power of militant groups who want to destabilize the nation. With the assistance of the armed troops from the AU, calm is being restored to Somalia. Although this period of uneasy peace is viewed skeptically by the world, it has has led to a steady influx of Somalis who are returning to Mogadishu to rebuild their country. Liban Egal used to live in Maryland, he returned to Somalia in 2011 and opened the first commercial bank in Mogadishu. Ilwad Elman has also returned to Somalia. She runs a centre which rehabilitates child soldiers and equips them with skills to help them reintegerate into society. Ilwad and Liban represent the greater majority of Somalis who want militants like al-shabaab erased so Somalia can be healed and rebuilt.