Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't overstate the military threat posed by al-Shabaab

On Nov. 1, the American Enterprise Institute published an analysis of the possibility that al-Shabaab might take over Mogadishu.

Titled "Looking Ahead in Mogadishu: Tough Decisions," the report rightly notes that the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) survives in Mogadishu only because the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) protects it there.

While al-Shabaab poses a real threat to the TFG and regularly attacks AMISOM forces, the AEI report overstates the threat to AMISOM forces. AEI concluded that al-Shabaab’s Ramadan offensive challenged the “meager force protecting the TFG in Mogadishu,” adding that even if the worst-case scenarios do not materialize, the situation in Somalia today is unacceptable.

While I agree that the situation in Somalia is unacceptable and a continuing U.S. policy review is in order, it is important not to overstate the military threat posed by al-Shabaab.

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