While the Somali al-Shabaab movement, affiliated with al-Qaeda, controlled many regions of Somalia for years and spread “panic” among the population, climate change dealt a heavy blow to this terrorist organization, which may be a “killer” for their activities in the country.
Climate change is threatening the presence of the Al-Shabaab movement in Somalia, as the encroaching sands and drought prompted thousands of residents to rebel against the authority of the armed movement after years of submission.
How did climate change affect the youth movement?
And climate change in Somalia has turned into a curse that befell Al-Shabaab, after drought prompted tribes that were subject to Al-Qaeda to rebel against it, according to the Anadolu website report.
These tribes refused to pay taxes after the wells dried up, the land became desolate, and large numbers of livestock died.
Drought usually played a role in favor of terrorist groups, and helped them recruit more followers angry at their governments, but the matter is different in Somalia.
How did the situation turn?
The youth movement tried to exploit the drought and climate change to its advantage, by recruiting more children, fighters and supporters, in exchange for food and money, which it collects from collecting taxes and royalties.
But the Somalis are fed up with the high taxes and royalties that Al-Shabaab takes from them, despite the famine that hits the country, which the United Nations described as one of the worst famines over the past 70 years, facing the Horn of Africa.
Given its control of local trade routes between states and regions, Al-Shabaab imposes taxes on merchants to allow them to cross and pass to their destination, which has angered merchants and angered clans.
These extremist practices prompted the clans, especially in the center of the country, to revolt against the youth movement, with the support of the country’s new president, Hussein Sheikh Mahmoud.
The Somali army supported the clans in their revolution against Al-Shabab, because it realizes that it can only preserve the liberated towns with the support of the local clans, who know the geography of the land better than the soldiers, and can protect their members and their families against the guerrilla war that the movement is good at.
The clans can also provide logistical support to the army, especially in terms of information, and also dry up the popular incubator of the youth movement, and its funding sources to weaken its ability to recruit and pay the salaries of its members.
The retreat of “Al-Shabaab” areas of control
Until recently, the youth movement controlled large areas in the center and south of the country, up to the Kenyan border in the south and the Ethiopian border in the west.
With the coming to power of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, on May 15, and his adoption of a hybrid policy in combating the youth movement, he succeeded in liberating dozens of countries and regions, most of them in the center of the country, but vast areas in the south are still under their control.
The Somali army scored the largest strategic victory so far, when units of the army, with the support of clan militants, managed to liberate the “Adam Yebal” district in the central Shabelle state, which is affiliated with the Hirshebele district (center), adjacent to the capital, Mogadishu, from the north.
A few days ago, President Sheikh Mahmoud announced the liberation of “Adam Yibal” (about 250 km northwest of Mogadishu), which he considered “its last and most important stronghold in Hirshebele.”
Adam Yibal, includes about half a million people, and is located at the intersection of the triangle of the states of Middle Shabelle and Hiran, which belong to Hirshebili, with the district of “Walghdud” to the north of it.
With government forces controlling it, Al-Shabaab has lost its main stronghold in the central provinces, according to media reports.
In the next phase, the Somali army will intensify its attacks on Al-Shabaab strongholds in the autonomous district of Galgudud, to purify the northern half of the country from extremist elements, before heading to liberate the areas under the organization in the southern half.
The youth movement’s failure to comprehend the extent of the impact of extreme climate changes on people’s thinking after the drought affected their daily sustenance, made it lose its popular base, and some of its alliances with the clans of the central region.