The United States of America has been remarkably swift in its counter-mobilisation after no fewer that 90 people perished in a car bombing in Mogadishu, the embattled capital of an enbattled country called Somalia. Saturday’s bedlam and butchery in a swathe of Africa was said to have been perpetrated by the Al-Shabaab militant group, that reportedly has links to Al Qaida.
Al- Shabaab was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011, but it still controls parts of the countryside. As it turns out, the retaliation was a coordinated operation by the US forces and the Somali government against terrorists, of a kind that has seldom been witnessed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The presence of US boots on the ground in Afghanistan may now be less pronounced; the White House response to the menace in Pakistan has been largely restricted to the curbing of fiscal assistance, pre-eminently by the World Bank and IMF.
In Somalia, at another remove, the US response has been almost sponaneous, leading to the killing of four terrorists 24 hours after the bedlam and butchery in Mogadishu. In a part if not the whole of Africa, therefore, the terrorist is more vulnerable to a joint operation by the government and the US. It is the promptitude of the Pentagon’s offensive that is striking, thus conveying a message to terrorists in the Afro-Arab region in the wider canvas.
“In coordination with the federal government of Somalia, US Africa Command (Africom) conducted three airstrikes in two locations targeting Al-Shabaab militants on December 29,” Africom said in a statement. The strikes came one day after Somalia’s deadliest attack in two years. The truck bomb has killed scores, including many students in Mogadishu. The geostrategy of the terrorist has taken a hideous turn.
Not the least because in the immediate aftermath of the outrage in Somalia, the Taliban struck in northern Afghanistan, killing 17 activists of the local militia, which is under the command of either the defence or interior ministries. In comparison to Al-Shabaab, Taliban has been more prompt in claiming responsibility. From Africa to Afghanistan, the end of the year has been convulsed by the militants.
While the Taliban has struck in its stronghold, the Al Qaida affiliate has perpetrated yet another bout of terror in its turf, notably the Afro-Arab region. Sunday’s outrage has happened when a temporary nationwide ceasefire is said to be “in the works”, if the Taliban’s own admission is any indication. In the face of terror, the outlook of the impending US-Talban talks is ever so grim. As uncertain as a US-Taliban confrontation in Afghanistan… as in Somalia. Altogether a distressing epilogue to 2019, seventy-two hours before 2020 unfolds.