Via the Somalia Report, we learn (unsurprisingly) that Somali militias ASWJ and Ras Kamboni each have their eyes on the strategic prize of Kismayo. This blog has repeatedly discussed the importance of this port as a revenue source for al Shabaab and to whomever controls it next. The Kenyan Defense Force set the goal of capturing Kismayo following their incursion into southern Somalia nearly ten months ago. After halts due to weather and other factors, the KDF (now operating notionally under the writ of AMISOM) campaign has picked up momentum again and it appears likely this objective will be achieved within the two months or so following Ramadan. I still subscribe to the expectation (see comments here) that al Shabaab will fade away without much of a fight, and stick to the hit and run tactics we've seen since they vacated Mogadishu last year. A desirable, but probably unlikely outcome would be for the TFG to assert governance and maintain order at this vital port once al Shabaab is defeated there. However, as long as this key territory and revenue source is wrestled from al Qaeda's East African brothers, the situation will be an improvement over the status quo.
German-made blasting caps intercepted by PSF
With the impending loss of Kismayo, al Shabaab is on the ropes in the South, but continues a migration northward towards sanctuary in the mountains of Puntland. Last week, Puntland Security Forces intercepted a boat carrying military-grade IED precursors and other weapons, likely intended for employment against AMISOM forces. This successful interdiction represents the tip of the iceberg of munitions and fighters flowing from al Shabaab's militant partners in AQAP.
The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.