On Saturday, October 14th, 2017 a vehicle-borne improvised explosive devise (VBIED) detonated in Mogadishu, killing as many as 500 people. This is the largest such attack in Somali’s conflict ridden history. Al-Shabaab is believed to be responsible for carrying out the attack, demonstrating the reach and impact the armed group still has. Despite concerted efforts by the Somali Federal Government (SFG), Somali National Army (SNA), African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and international partners such as the United States and British militaries, the armed-group still maintains territorial control, governance capabilities, funding streams, and operational capacity as it demonstrated on Saturday. Military force has not succeeded in eliminating Al-Shabaab. In fact, the Saturday attack is a direct result of escalation by Al-Shabaab in response to increased military actions against them, vowing in early 2017 “to increase its attacks after both the Trump administration and Somalia’s recently elected president announced fresh military efforts against the group.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/16/mogadishu-bombing-al-shabaab-behind-deadly-blast-officials-say) Al-Shabaab cannot be eradicated by military force. Alternative means must be sought, studied, and implemented to end this civil conflict.
Photograph by Mohamad Abdiwahab/AFP Getty Images/ The Guardian