Tensions flared in Mahaas yesterday evening as violent clashes erupted between two key forces fighting al-Shabaab: the Somali National Army (SNA) and Ma’awisley militia. The clash pitted the SNA’s Khalid bin Walid Brigade against the local militia, raising concerns about the unity and effectiveness of anti-terrorism efforts in the region.
Mahaas, Hiran region, HirShabelle, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
The dispute escalated when a soldier from SNA’s Khalid bin Walid Brigade reportedly shot and killed a Ma’awisley fighter. The incident sparked a violent skirmish between the two factions, resulting in casualties on both sides. However, the exact number remains unclear at this time.
The situation is especially challenging for the SNA, which heavily relies on the support of local forces like Ma’awisley in their ongoing battle against al-Shabaab. Without a cohesive working relationship between these entities, the effectiveness of counter-terrorism operations in the region will suffer. The concerned areas include Wabho, El Buur, Masagaway, El Dheer, and others. The infighting can potentially disrupt all these operations, which are scheduled to commence in mid-October.
Government officials, including the Mayor of Mahaas, Mumin Mohamed Halane, along with clan elders, swiftly intervened to quell the hostilities, underscoring the importance of maintaining a unified front in the fight against al-Shabaab.
Ma’awisley leads the fight on al-Shabaab
Last month, the Somali Digest reported that the government had asked Ma’awisley to lead the fight against al-Shabaab. This new course in the battle against the militant group responds to recent challenges of the SNA and its withdrawal from previously liberated areas in Galgaduud. The shift in strategy significantly emphasised local Ma’awisley militias as the primary force to liberate regions under al-Shabaab’s control.
The decision originated from the Somali President’s concerns about the SNA’s morale and ability to effectively combat the Islamists. Under the revised strategy, the SNA would assume only a supporting role.
Seeking support from the Hawadle
On 3 September, Hassan Sheikh embarked on a critical mission to seek support from the Hawadle community in Mahaas. After extensive negotiations, the community agreed to join the fight against al-Shabaab. Ali Jeyte, President of the unrecognised Hiran State, would lead the Ma’awisley of Hiran in this endeavour.
President Hassan Sheikh assured the Hawadle community that the SNA would not interfere in Ma’awisley operations and pledged full support to Ali Jeyte in case he needed anything during the operation.