MOGADISHU (Reuters) - An armed attack on a Mogadishu hotel popular with government officials on Tuesday left 31 people dead, including several parliamentarians.
Below follows reaction from experts to the attack.
EJ HOGENDOORN, HORN OF AFRICA DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP
“(The attack) is another indication the government is in a very desperate situation when dealing with al-Shabaab and still needs the support of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) to stay in power.”
“It is impossible for the government to protect its entire people (politicians) from attack. Some would suggest that government is in a weaker position than it was a couple of months ago. I do not necessarily agree. The government is in a similar position whereby they have ineffective security forces, and in large part rely on AMISOM to protect the most important institutions they have. The security forces are not at a stage where they can protect government by themselves.”
“I think arguably al-Shabaab are weaker than previously. The fact they have to carry out terrorist attacks, rather than regular conventional attack, shows they do not have the capacity to defeat AMISOM or the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) forces working with them.”
“The limited nature of TFG and AMISOM security is clearly shown by this incident. Despite the President’s many promises of an offensive to regain Mogadishu, nothing has actually happened, foreign-trained troops have gone unpaid and many have consequently defected. The latest incident is just the latest to show that the jihadists are in fact on the front foot. Many MPs have meanwhile fled abroad due to the constant threat to their lives and TFG has often struggled to achieve a quorum.”
“AMISOM is already under its mandated strength and despite the impetus of the Kampala bombings history suggests it is unlikely to be reinforced effectively. Instead, an increase in troop numbers will probably be portrayed by al-Shabaab and its allies as a further foreign invasion, which has been an effective jihadist rallying cry elsewhere - notably in Iraq (from where al-Shabaab still draws much inspiration) and Afghanistan. It seems likely that the Kampala bombings were intended to bring about just such a reaction.
“More widely, the international community will be willing to offer only limited support, and certainly a wider Western intervention would have serious repercussions. The Western effort is therefore likely to remain focused on more deniable operations using Special Forces, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and intelligence assets as well as training and equipment support for TFG - although the current failure of TFG forces means that this part of the strategy needs to be reconsidered.”
“There has been an outbreak of clashes in Mogadishu in the past 24 hours which TFG claims has been sparked by a new al-Shabaab offensive, with casualties reported on both sides. The attack on the hotel housing the MPs seems to be part of this.”
“The AU (African Union) have already committed themselves to the deployment of additional troops ... the prospect of a Western-led intervention in Somalia at this stage (at a time when they are desperately trying to extract themselves from equally difficult missions in Iraq and Afghanistan) appears highly remote.”
“From a security perspective, it seems the attack is intended to show that there are very few places in Mogadishu that al-Shabaab cannot target. Disguising themselves as government soldiers obviously helped the assailants evade the hotel’s security, but the location of the attack in the most secure part of Mogadishu will do little for confidence in the TFG’s ability to create a stable environment. Attacks near the palace have been a long-held strategy for al-Shabaab.”
ROB HARFORD, OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, SALAMANCA RISK MANAGEMENT
“Whether more African Union troops will lead to greater stability is the million dollar question. Somalia is a particularly unstable and complex insurgency. Unless the soldiers are properly trained, their arrival will almost certainly lead to greater instability. Putting Western troops on the ground would be highly provocative.”
“There is no political will whatsoever among Western governments for getting involved on the ground in security operations. The fact that we are seeing an escalation on the ground will not change that.”
“What we are going to see is greater international support for AMISOM (AU peace force), more training of its soldiers and a lot in the way of indirect attempts to support the transitional government.”
Reporting by William Maclean, editing by Tim Pearce and Nina Chestney