Ethiopia’s Somali region is mobilizing against al-Shabab. The Somali region had been hailed as the most peaceful in Ethiopia. Three weeks ago al-Shabab terrorists forced their way into the region. Ethiopia has now amassed troops along the border for possible military operations.
ADDIS ABABA AUGUST 10: Ethiopia’s Somali region is mobilizing against al-Shabab militants to prevent further incursions by the group. Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, commonly known as al-Shabaab, is a Somalia-based Islamic insurgence group active in East Africa. The group describes itself as waging jihad against “enemies of Islam”. The group has been suspected of having links with al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram.
The Somali region had been hailed as the most peaceful in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. But that was put to the test three weeks ago when al-Shabab fighters forced their way into the region, igniting a deadly confrontation deep in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has now amassed troops along the border for possible military operations against al-Shabab. But the Somali region is also mobilizing community leaders including religious scholars, women and traditional elders.
Business leaders have pledged funds and pastoralists have donated livestock to the security forces. The apparent goal is to resist infiltration of al-Shabab’s ideology in a region known for its tolerance and peaceful cohabitation between various faith communities.
Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Burawi is one of the clerics who spoke out against al-Shabab during a recent government-organized gathering in the region’s capital, Jigjiga.
Burawi said the Somali region does not need al-Shabab’s intervention, and said the scholars are obliged to speak at mosques and inform the public about the militant organization.
“This is the right time to speak out,” he said. “We should not give these men a chance, the government should not give them a chance and the clerics should not give them a chance. We have to stop them here.”
Samira Gaid, a security expert and executive director of the Mogadishu-based Hiraal Institute, said the community appears for now to be ready to reject any al-Shabab incursion. She said al-Shabab has been struggling to build a support base inside Somali Region.
The picture that is emerging from the region indicates the operation against al-Shabab fighters has been lengthy and more complex than previously reported by authorities. It appears security forces have been engaging the militants until at least late last week.
Source: VOA News