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How to beat back Islamic militants in Africa

January 18th, 2013
03:41 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Battles with Islamist militants in Mali and Algeria this week underscore the major challenge al Qaeda poses in North Africa.

But in one northern African country, Islamic fighters are on the run.

This week Somalia’s recently elected president met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton State who hailed that country's major success in beating back al Qaeda's East Africa affiliate al-Shabab. 

RELATED: Former al Qaeda captive ‘not surprised’ by Algeria attack

Clinton bestowed U.S. recognition on the country for the first time in 20 years.

For nearly two decades Somalia was the poster child for a failed state and a terrorist haven.

Like Mali right now, Somalia was a lawless state where pirates, warlords and militants ruled the roost. But with the support of an African military coalition, backed by the United States, Somalia has been able to turn the tide.

The President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday that al-Shabaab is a subsiding threat now on the run.

President Mohamud knows first hand how violent the group can be, he survived an assassination attempt from the group in the days leading to his inauguration.

“Someone has to stand up and I'm very glad to be that someone today. And I do have the belief that we can defend [against] them and we've proved that so far.”

He believes al-Shabaab is incapable of defeating Somalia’s increased military power.

“This is good news for us, that we are facing the decline of the militants. But we are very sorry that many other African brothers and sisters are facing the same challenge we faced.”

Even though al-Shabaab is on the run Somalia, President Mohamud told Amanpour he is concerned about the various al Qaeda groups in North Africa assisting al-Shabaab again.

“I do believe that there is a network that links all of them,” he said, adding that only when al-Shabaab was weakened in Somalia did extremists really emerge in Mali.

After the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” attack drove out the U.S. and U.N. forces, this week’s recognition from the U.S. is a “bold step” toward normalizing Somalia in the world community, President Mohamud said. He believes it will open the doors of many international and financial institutions, which could help Somalia turn the corner economically.

“There's no one single country in the world who went from a collapsed state and came back on its own. Every country was supported by the internationals,” he said, adding that Somalia will still need the continued support of the international community to avoid a replay of its two decades as a collapsed state.

READ MORE: Insider’s account of rescue in Algeria


Filed under:  Algeria • Latest Episode • Mali • Somalia
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Tembisa

    Reblogged this on World Chaos.

    January 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  2. James

    Somalia is east africa not north

    January 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  3. JihadAgainstTheWest

    The West can try their best in stopping the return of the Caliphate but god willing we Muslims will eventually be victorious and repel the Western crusaders from every inch of our Muslim lands.

    January 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Reply
    • chippy

      One sick belief system – You need to adopt a new one because your G-d is a stinker & killer

      January 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
      • Kaisar Imam

        Born idiot baby killer is jews not us. Who killed millions of abroginals in Austrelia, millions in Heroshima, millions in Africa , millions in Iraq, Millions in Afghanistan . Only mentallly sick can tell muslim as killer. biggest killer is chriastians and your days are numbered. Do whatever you want you will cease to exist very soon.

        January 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • SayAsIs

      Don't you see that God is not willing? He rejected your intolerance and methods of oppression and violence. May be a couple of centuries of no caliphate will convince you, that God is not with you?

      January 19, 2013 at 12:45 am | Reply
      • chippy

        You are a sick lot. Your Allah is all about death, killing and is beyond comprehension.

        January 19, 2013 at 2:12 am |
      • rajan

        k.madhukar you are 10000% right brother in what you say.

        January 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Bushdiver

      Well, I'm an American and could care less about your Muslim lands, people or religion. Just keep your Muslims in your lands and kill your own people and let the rest of the world in peace.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:15 am | Reply
      • Rajan

        How true.Just all Muslims kill themselves.

        January 19, 2013 at 7:41 am |
      • k.madhukar

        Aren't they doing it already ?But they also breed like lemmings and replacement rate is higher.

        January 19, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • iluminatiwest

      Amin brother, The west is trying to fight Islam and we will fight them hard, we just need patience and continue the fight ! They fight for corruption we fight for justice, its clear!

      The west is caward, if they were fair they wouln't build nuclear weapons , the thiefs build weapons cos they have to protect what they stole!

      They call the fighters of Islam Al kaida , to demonise them and brainwash people not to join them!

      The criminal west is very clear that is fighting Islam, cos if they cared about people they would have intervened in syria long ago, the minute they saw Islam in Mali they went quick !

      We should fight them hard in every way possible, rise up the muslims the fight is comming!

      January 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
      • rajan

        Learn to spell inbred retard.It is not west against sister f****** Islam it is Atheists,Buddhists,Christians , Hindus , Jews and Sikhs against this disease.Long live the Kafir( an Arabic term used by Muslims to describe non-Muslims) We will rule against this disease.

        January 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
      • rajan

        Poor countries are poor because Muslims can not feed one child but have at least ten children with their cousins and sisters to overpopulate the world in the name of Islam.The west are the first to help the starving in a natural disaster never mind what religion they are .What do the rich Arab countries do? Nothing.The Islamics hate everyone and they can not live in peace,even with their own people.They blame everyone but their own.Shame on you.

        January 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • hero

      If you want to continue with you dark age mentality, fine by me, but stay in your own black hole

      January 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  4. chippy

    Why is it you all appear to want to leave the so called Muslim lands for the west? Is it because they cannot wait to get out of a rotten system that falsifies and destroys their religion? – So one left with the view that the Muslin belief system is a is a killer cult and wherever the fundamentalist go they kill and cause mayhem. However I do feel compassion for good Muslim who wants to live in peace and treat others as they want to be treated. Sadly it’s the likes of the bad muslin who destroys the reputation of all Muslim. So your Allah is about hate not love the sooner you realise it the better the world will be.

    January 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Reply
    • b

      hi

      April 7, 2013 at 10:49 am | Reply
  5. Awabnavi

    You all seem to forget that BEFORE the establishment of ISRAEL amongst the Arabs there were no such things as TERRORISTS, ISLAMISTS, MILITANTS ISLAMISTS, etc. It is the West's fault. It is they who have done things which led to these problems.

    January 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • chippy

      Go check the history before making your comment, it was stupid. You have to blame others and not yourself. Personally I believe the problems lie with the murderous muslin fundamentalist thugs. They could not gain power with the vote and have to use the gun.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Reply
      • iluminatiwest

        You don't see the full picture, you just like the sheep that follow whatever the crowd is following! The west doesn't want Islam to be implemented anywhere cos its superior to the western democracy, and people will see the difference and will say to democracy bye bye, Democracy is injustice, is voting by majority, if majority are corrupt criminals they will make corrupt laws, can you not see that!

        Do you think the west cares about human beings , are you kidding me? Does the west keep nuclear weapons for suvenir or to use them, they are rich cos they have robed and slaved poor countries, they are evil! Otherwise there wouldn't be poverty in the world ! You cannot have anybody rich cos somebody has to do the low jobs, they keep some countries poor in order to sent their companies there to make clothes and stuff for cheap price and sell them in the west for high price, is that to hard to understand? they don't want Islam cos muslims wouldn't deal with them as they like !

        January 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Rohit Malhotra

      Another inbred blaming others .Islam has been killing and forcibly converting peaceful religions for years. Long before Israel was created.

      http://www.barenakedislam.com/2013/01/10/this-is-the-sharia-muslims-in-the-west-never-want-to-tell-you-about/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=this-is-the-sharia-muslims-in-the-west-never-want-to-tell-you-about

      http://apostates.weebly.com/

      January 20, 2013 at 5:12 am | Reply
    • dourdutch

      Hi Awabnavi, about forgetting..
      For over 300 years the Ottoman Empire muslims ruled with iron rod over the entire Middle East, including Egypt , Mecca, Medina -and as far as Algeria.
      Apart from taxing the conquered muslim Nations to the hilt, they routinely tortured and mass-murdered submitted 'brother' muslims by the countless thousands to instil and maintain subservience -often at the hands of appointed local Arab authorities. Shi'ite muslims were reduced to slaves.
      Their centuries long cruel suppression lasted until the Ottoman Empire collapse by 1917.
      If that's too long ago, will you consider the terrible 1980-1988 slaughter of Iranian Shi'ites by Iraqi Sunnis' mowing machine gun fire? -over one million young muslim lives snuffed out. Brother against muslim brother.
      Maybe amongst Arabs, as you state, there were no such things as Terrorists, Militants Islamsts before the 1948 establishment of Israel.
      But bloody, sustained and historically grand scale torture and murder of same Sunni sect and enslaved Shi'ite 'brother' populations there was. In fact the Turks treated your own often worse than the Jews.
      And may I remind you of the regular 'body bag' planes flying between Saddam Hussein's Baghdad and Cairo, returning the corpses of utterly disposable and despised Egyptian guest workers fallen.. of Iraqi building site scaffoldings?
      Lift the eyes of your mind my friend, for wider perspective, even for introspection. However sobering.
      Why do I know I have not even lifted the tip of what is under the carpet of Arab against Arab, muslim against muslim strife?
      Because I know Europe's history of endless strife and wars of Christian against Christian Sect and Nations -who, collectively, confessed to be followers of Jesus, Prince of Peace.
      NOT so, until we face our own evil, repent, surrender our flawed human nature -take the jihad inside.
      God bless you.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  6. Roman

    the method is strait forward: "No negotiations with terrorists". That's exactly what Algerian government announced and military took necessary steps... seems the action was very successfully… until western liberals got involved. Sure, there is price to pay and many hostages might get hurt, but otherwise we never get rid of fanatic idiots.
    oil field worker from Algeria.

    January 19, 2013 at 2:35 am | Reply
  7. snow4

    Just a fantasy al Shabab on the run...this guy will soon have bullet in the head or will be blown up to pices by some kind a female suicide bomber...they will get him sooner or later, FACT! Then you can put on stage another puppet Ms. Killary blind and dumb as usual.
    there is no way to think this kind a crap islamist on the run or even thrown out from horn of africa not to mention their big success after disgraceful invasion of libya now riddle with modern weapons from EU heading to hot spots like mali, algeria...how ironic the same weapons now killing the same people who make libya to happen..now thats i call PURE KARMA!

    January 19, 2013 at 4:29 am | Reply
  8. Matt

    What you have to remember about Somalia, as Kilcullen says most insurgencies go for around 20 to 25 years. And in Somalia we were getting around to that sort of timeline. We now have it down to a model in which we can be in and out in 5 years 2007 in Iraq and 2009 in Afghanistan, but the intractable insurgency continues albeit at a lower intensity, you see this in Iraq and will see it in Afghanistan. So it is either early intervention to prevent a entrenched insurgency, which we tried in the 90's or it is a sustained insurgency that will got for decades. So with Somalia it was the right time to make a push. It has been years of fighting in Somalia the UN mission, the AU mission, the Somalian government forces. It was the right time for a final push. Kebab held a lot of territory, but sustained combat, and a lack of public support for over 20 years had made them vulnerable. There are modules and phases inside those modules used last year in Somalia that are transferable to Mali. But Afghanistan is different for Iraq, and Iraq is different from Somalia and Mali is different to all of those AO's.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:31 am | Reply
  9. aurelius

    Sounds great, but the reader learned absolutely nothing about how that result was achieved.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:04 am | Reply
  10. Clothcap

    CFR and the controlled secret services covertly create a problem e.g. using Saudi funding of Muslim Brotherhood and its extremist al nusra. US and its North Atlantic state terrorism outfit overtly "help" with suppression. Who benefits?
    A clue. Weapons, oil, minerals, strategic advantage through chaos.
    Not Americans, not the countries where the US "helps".

    January 19, 2013 at 9:42 am | Reply
  11. mumeiywa

    its the KENYA DEFENCE FORCES that drove the militant out and on the run. give credit where its due. our forces did us proud

    January 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
    • Mohamed

      ^Did the Kenyan troops go to the real battle front of Moqdisho? No. Give that credit to Ugandan & Burundi troops who cleared the dangerous streets of the capital. Did the Kenyan troops fight with Al-Shabab in the streets of Kismaayo? No. Kenyan army landed on the port city after the Americans and the French bombed Al Shabab for nearly three weeks. Kenyan troops get into the city three days after Al Shabab vacated it. Took them three long days that no Shabaab was present before the brave Kenyan army set a foot there. And before that Kenyan troops were stuck in the muddy streets outside the city well over a year. I guess Ugandan president wasn't joking when he said Kenya has a career army meaning they can't face the guerrilla warfare style. Nice proving him right.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Reply
      • Kernyan

        get you facts right kenya went and won the war, ugandans failed with those gumboot army personel, the burundians were always outside the mogadishu, the bombing and the real war in kismayu was done by the kenyans....gooogle no foreign help at all, AMERICANS FAILED in somalia and now they are trying to get praise of what they did not help fight, for your nfo the war was not to kill but to change the perception, thats why most alshabaab defected and are currently going through councelling to help them get back in the society. the war was won with very few casualties

        January 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  12. Richard

    Ah, all the geopolitical experts offering their opinions. "Beat the back?" No. KILL them, all of them.

    January 20, 2013 at 5:17 am | Reply
  13. Sayed

    Violent extremists and their perverted interpretation of Islam must perish. Muslim countries can be free to practice true Islam and worship our brothers and sisters and live harmiously with West.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  14. hero

    @ Sayed, just to remind you that in islam you sow hate and harvest hate. How many innocent peoples have islam killed lately?

    January 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  15. helove

    One mate of mine once said that even if all of us were to become muslims, there will be no peace in this world. Which i now reckon its true, look how the Shia and Sunni communities lynched in an exhibition of blood chilling violence, and it is still continuing.

    January 22, 2013 at 8:25 am | Reply
  16. Rakesh

    To iluminatiwest January 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

    What planet are you on.

    1.Islam is superior to western democracy – Big joke .It is that superior that females in some Islamic countries are killed by the inbred taliban if they go to school.
    2.Voting by majority-Much better than some Cleric inbreds that cut of innocent peoples hands without proof.
    3.Corrupt criminals making corrup laws – Another joke check Somalia (Muslims) everyone is corrupt there
    4.West do not care about human beings – The west help any country and any religion in a natural disaster.If the Muslim countries do it is in a very small capacity.The west give injections to prevent Polio in Pakistan and the illiterate people think they are trying to sterilize them.This imaginary sterilization will prevent the Islamics breeding like rabbits.
    5.The west enslaved and robbed the poor countries – The west has been paying millions of dollars to poor countries for years on a yearly basis.They only stopped giving to India because India has got of its backside and built a good economy.Still giving lots to the Mullahs in Pakistan. The Muslims enslaved the Africans and forcibly converted them.
    6. Poverty in the world – is there because of so many conflicts in Muslim countries.Also having lots of kids to overpopulate the world in the name of Islam. They cannot feed one but have 10 kids. Not the fault of the west.

    Most conflicts in the world are caused by Islam.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  17. Alfie Zombo

    We should never for a moment forget that Muslims need prayers in order to overcome. Imagine the number of muslims forcibly made Muslims or terrified of being killed if they leave Islam. It is clear God has given us Mankind the ability to choose, especially in religious matters but some muslims might tell you that you have to be killed for saying the truth. And we should never forget that there are individuals who stuff has been put in their hearts by God himself, so you have to deal with them carefully.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:43 am | Reply
  18. b

    hi

    April 7, 2013 at 10:48 am | Reply

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