Yesterday, the President of Southwest State (SWS), Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed ‘Laftagareen’, convened a critical meeting to commence Phase II of the anti-al-Shabaab offensive in Southwest State. The meeting involved representatives from federal and state-level security forces, as well as military courts.
Baidoa, South West State, SOMALIA.
President Laftagareen declared, “Today, I officially announce the commencement of the Phase-II military offensive against Al-Shabaab in our state. The operation is set to begin. This morning, I met with all sectors of the security forces. All necessary groundwork for the operation is complete. Victory!”
Additionally, the massive El Nino rains have started in Southwest State. At the same time, the continuation of Phase I operations north of the Shabelle River suggests that the Somali government may not be able to allocate enough troops to SWS at the moment.
Analysts speculate that the President’s statement may be a tactical move aiming at derailing the opposition’s calls for elections. President Laftagareen could be trying to create a pretext to delay the elections by initiating the military operation. It would not be the first time he attempted that.
Last September, during a meeting with district commissioners of Southwest State, President Laftagareen suggested launching a security operation in the state. He emphasized the need to address security issues, including unblocking districts controlled by al-Shabaab, conducting public awareness campaigns, and collaborating with state and federal forces to restore peace to the region. Nonetheless, nothing happened eventually.
The way forward
It is essential to recognize that allegations of political manoeuvring and strategic distractions have been common in Somalia’s complex political landscape. The opposition’s demand for timely and inclusive elections represents a critical component of democratic governance, and any attempts to undermine or delay these processes should be subject to scrutiny.
At the same time, it is crucial to focus on the broader goal of countering al-Shabaab and ensuring the security and stability of Southwest State. Collaborative efforts between federal and state-level security forces remain vital in combating the extremist group’s activities and protecting the civilian population.
As the situation unfolds, it is essential for both the government and the opposition to engage in constructive dialogue. Both sides should work towards a resolution that upholds democratic principles while addressing security concerns.