Quick gains, quick losses: Somali government forces left El Garas. Yesterday morning, the Somali National Army (SNA) and the local Mawa’awisley militia successfully captured the town of El Garas, a former stronghold of al-Shabaab in Galgaduud. Unfortunately, this was followed by an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion that killed two Members of Galmudug’s Parliament (MP) and one of their security personnel. Later that day, the troops withdrew back to Dhuusamareeb.
El Garas, Galgaduud region, Galmudug, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
What the government media outlets presented as “a huge victory for Somalia” did not last for even 24 hours. Swift withdrawals following successful operations have become an all-too-familiar pattern, leaving communities sceptical about the government’s ability to provide lasting security and stability. El Garas was no different. The government troops withdrew from the town, allowing the Islamists to return.
The Somali troops withdrew after two Galmudug MPs fell victim to al-Shabaab’s IED. The local politicians were among the first officials to enter the city after its seizure. Their vehicle triggered off an IED, resulting in a devastating explosion. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and confirmed the deaths of the two politicians, as well as one of their security personnel. Horrific photos from the attack’s aftermath circulated in al-Shabaab’s social media channels.
To regain the population’s trust, the government faces the crucial task of not only capturing strategic areas but also implementing solutions to maintain control over them. Without this commitment, similar future operations are destined to fail, and the hopes of a lasting victory against instability and extremism hang in the balance.
Reassessment of military strategy needed
For the Somali government, recent experiences in El Garas, but also Budbud or Osweyne, underscore the imperative for a comprehensive reassessment of military strategy. Quick gains have proven insufficient for ensuring long-term stability; a multi-faceted approach that incorporates military force with initiatives aimed at political reconciliation and economic development is essential.
For policymakers and military strategists, these shifts serve as cautionary tales, highlighting the risks associated with a fragmented, short-term focus and emphasizing the importance of sustainable operations that extend beyond mere territorial gains. As the ever-shifting battlefront in Somalia continues to evolve, these fleeting victories spotlight the complex and fragile path toward lasting stability.