Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My New Article on Shifts in Al-Shabab's Military and Media/Information Operations Strategies (February 2011-February 2013)

I have a new article that was just published today in the March issue of the CTC Sentinel, a journal published by the Combating Terrorism Center, an academic unit housed at West Point.  The article examines notable shifts in both the military and media/information operations strategies of the Somali Islamist insurgent movement Al-Shabab (Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen).  I look at, for example, the movement's self-portrayal of its "insurgent governance," its shift back to (re)becoming a primarily underground guerilla force, and the impact of defections on its ability to wage its insurgency.

"In 2009-2010, the Somali militant group al-Shabab controlled most of central and southern Somalia south of the autonomous region of Puntland. Since the February 2011 military offensives by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Somali government troops, and Somali Sufi militia forces, al-Shabab has suffered a series of significant territorial and strategic setbacks. Pressures on the insurgent movement increased when Kenya and Ethiopia, together with client Somali militias, invaded its southern and western strongholds in October and November 2011. The Kenyan military’s goal from the onset of its campaign inside Somalia was to seize the vital port city of Kismayo, one of al-Shabab’s most important economic centers. Kenya seized control of that city in October 2012. Ethiopian troops and their Somali allies quickly captured the Ethiopia-Somalia border town of Beledweyne, and within two months had also captured the city of Baidoa in western Somalia.

These setbacks necessitated a shift in al-Shabab’s military strategy. This article assesses the trajectory of both al-Shabab’s military and political strategies, explains how defections have weakened the group, and reviews its information and media operations during the past two years in the midst of its relatively rapid territorial losses."

Read the rest HERE.

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