The Somali General said that frontline countries’ participation in the fight against al-Shabaab remains unsure. The National Army Commander, General Ibrahim Sheikh Muhyadin Addow, has raised doubts about the involvement of frontline nations in the anticipated second phase of military operations against the extremist group.
Dhuusamareeb, Galmudug State, SOMALIA. By Dalmar and Yahya:
“Black Lion was originally intended to be a key player in the upcoming offensive against al-Shabaab. I cannot definitively state that this plan has been abandoned. However, the immediate prospects of these frontline nations joining and actively participating in the next phase of operations remain unclear from my standpoint,” General Addow remarked.
When queried by Voice of America (VOA) about the basis for his assertion, the Army Commander quoted the absence of discernible actions and preparations on the troop-contributing nations’ part. The countries that should participate in Operation Black Lion include Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. Nonetheless, a senior Kenyan defence official told VOA that their position has not changed, confirming their commitment to Black Lion.
Expert: Ethiopian withdrawal from Somalia highly unlikely
In addition to Kenya, which faces an increasingly difficult situation in its North Eastern Province, these concerns also relate to Ethiopia. Somalia’s neighbour has been facing instability for several years now. The county has not yet recovered from a brutal war between the central government and Tigray forces. Yet, it is already facing a new conflict. Fano, an ethno-nationalist Amhara youth militia, has taken up arms and waged a rebellion against the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF).
The Somali Digest asked Jan Zahorik, an associate professor at the University of West Bohemia and an expert on Ethiopia, about the likelihood of Ethiopian reduction of troops or early withdrawal from Somalia due to a potential necessity to reinforce ENDF troops sent to Amhara. The expert said he does not believe it would be necessary, citing Somalia’s critical importance to Ethiopia and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. “It would not be strategic to leave the country,” says Dr Zahorik.
“I cannot predict the future. We don’t know precisely how much the war on Tigray weakened the Ethiopian army. However, no matter the losses, the army job is a very attractive opportunity for local young men, as it provides them with a certain level of stability, including food three times a day. Therefore, I think restoring the army won’t be a big problem for Ethiopia, especially considering that the country has some 125 million inhabitants,” Dr Zahorik explained.
President still in Dhuusomareeb
General Addow’s concerns arise as the President of Somalia assumes a hands-on role in Dhuusomareeb, supervising the final stages of the initial anti-al-Shabaab offensive. Concerningly, the progression of this phase has extended beyond initial expectations, prompting inquiries into the proximity of the launch of the operation’s second phase. If the reservations voiced by the Army Chief materialize, the viability of the entire operation could potentially compromise.