September 2, 2014

Stars and Stripes quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on the US counterterrorism operation conducted in Somalia against the extremist organization al-Shabaab:



Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, said al-Shabab has proved “remarkably resilient” during its decade of operation, shifting from an armed militant youth wing of a loose Islamist alliance to the spearhead of an insurgency.

At one point the group “controlled more territory than the weak Somali government,” Pham said. “Hence it would be foolhardy to predict its demise based on any single strike, even if the attack took out the current leadership.”

 Still, if U.S. strikes succeeded in the elimination of Abdi Godane, it would be a significant development, Pham said.

“Even as he was turning the group away from an insurgency and into more of a transnational terrorist group, Godane was also fighting an internal battle for the future direction of al-Shabab,” Pham said.

“It may well be that his demise will give those who remain of these opponents the opportunity to shift the group’s priorities or even possibly arrive at a modus vivendi with the Somali government,” Pham added. “Time alone will tell.”

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