Still reeling in shock and tears after last Saturday’s attack on a Mogadishu hotel by Al-Shabab insurgents, the question uppermost on the minds of many must be how come Al-Shabab still successfully mounted this attack. Many of its commanders have been taken out over the years. Some of them had been surrendering too in the aftermath of irresistible pressure by the US African Command’s drone warfare against it and the African Union blitzkrieg.
Global media coverage of Saturday’s bombing consistently hint the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the original target of the bomb. Even if this were correct, the damage might only have been less in number of casualties but not the statement Al-Shabab obviously seeks to make with this attack. The question is how come is it still in a position to contemplate making any statement under conditions of intense pressure for many years? It is either terrorist groups are truly difficult to defeat or something somewhere is not receiving adequate attention yet. At least, taking the city from insurgents clearly does not mean the end of spectacular attacks on the city at their own pace and time. Otherwise, Al-Shabab has since lost the cities to the military campaigns against it.
What then are its staying power? Superiority of asymmetrical tactics or the inadequacy of the strategy of training and letting African militaries do the fighting against terrorism armies that are not only transnational in organisation but are also into diffuse wars.
In this context, Saturday bombing in Mogadishu has all the trappings that make African security in the global order even more frightening. Apart from a gamut of discourses of development believed to reproduce underdevelopment on the continent as in the current famine in Somalia, terrorism, a global security challenge is assuming an African character in terms of peace and development.
After Black Hawk Down incidence in Mogadishu in 1993 involving the killing of US Marines in the aftermath of the downing of the plane as well as the death in May earlier this year of an American Navy Seal team member during a clash with Al-Shabab, American involvement is very unlikely to go beyond drone attacks and the doctrine of sharing intelligence or training of national militaries to take on the counter-terrorism responsibility. But it is the United States that ought to get more thickly and frontally involved in containing terrorism everywhere in the context of the Global War on Terrorism, (GWOT) it enunciated. This should be the case especially on the African continent.
Within this context, there is something instructive in Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s call for an international conference on the North East of Nigeria where Boko Haram, Nigeria’s own Al-Shabab, has been operating since 2009. Saraki was Speaking at the 137 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly Sunday at St. Petersburg in Russia, Saraki argued the necessity of international interventions.