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US analysts urge Shabaab talks after massive Mogadishu bomb

Residents walk through rubble following an attack outside a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO | MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB
Residents walk through rubble following an attack outside a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO | MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB  

The recent massive bomb attacks in Mogadishu highlight the need for a shift in the Trump team’s strategy on Somalia away from military measures and toward talks with Al-Shabaab, a leading US analyst is suggesting.

“Al-Shabaab cannot be defeated militarily: the problem requires a political solution,” says Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa policy specialist at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank.

“And a political solution requires Washington to deal directly with Al- Shabaab, and with the many clan factions that feel threatened by the current government.”

The longstanding US aim of building up the Somali National Army to defeat Al-Shabaab on its own is “laughably unrealistic,” Ms Bruton adds.

Last week’s death toll —attributed to, but not claimed, by Al-Shabaab— demonstrates that the Somali government and armed forces remain incapable of securing the country without the support of African Union troops, says the author of numerous studies and commentaries on Somalia.

When the AU forces eventually leave Somalia, “this ‘internationally recognised’ government will utterly and immediately collapse,” Ms Bruton predicts.

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