African Union force hands over bases in Somalia amidst uncertainties.
As part of its gradual withdrawal of military presence in Somalia, the African Union (AU) force has handed over three more military bases it previously occupied to the Somali army.
The military withdrawal is expected to end next year, with around 2,000 troops scheduled to leave Somalia by the end of June. The AU force has handed over six military bases this year, with the first base, located in the Heliwa district of the capital, Mogadishu, handed over on 22 January. The barrack was under the Burundian forces.
The latest handover, which took place in Adale, Mirtaqwa and Hajji Ali in the Middle Shabelle region, was also previously under the Burundian army command.
Although it is difficult to say with certainty how many AU soldiers have already been withdrawn from Somalia, one thing is clear: stability in Somalia is far from guaranteed in the face of deadly attacks carried out by al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al Shabab.
The terrorist group wants to establish an Islamic State in Somalia.
The insurgencies have created security challenges for the Somali government and driven away investors. Nor is the deadly violence in Somalia conducive to creating basic social necessities for an average Somalian who constantly lives in fear.
The Somali government has been training new soldiers in various African countries, including neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea, to replace the AU troops as well as address the porous security in the face of the AU military withdrawal of its 19,000 AU troops currently deployed in the country.
The government in Mogadishu is equally busy preparing for the second phase of a major military offensive against al-Shabab, hoping to dislodge the militants, who have caused mayhem in the country. The government hopes the new military offensive against al-Shabab will yield some degree of normalcy in the country.
In what seems to be a response to the expected military attack against them, the terrorists have recently released a new video revealing the graduation of hundreds of their recruits.
The insane vicious circle of violence in Somalia is far from over. Let us hope that all efforts by the African Union (AU) and billions of dollars spent to bring stability to Somalia are not a wasted venture.