The Somali TFG is in more trouble than usual
The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia is in more trouble than it normally is
Its baseline state is that it is a hollow joke with international recognition. In Mogadishu, the capital, the TFG controls the Presidential palace, a couple of blocks around that building, and a few roads to the airport and the seaport in Mogadishu. It maintains control of these areas on the basis of the guns and tanks of foreigners, as the African Union has deployed a couple of brigades of infantry to support the TFG. The only thing that the TFG has going for it is the United Nations, the US and the rest of the West is willing to recognize it as the legitimate government of more than a few square miles in Mogadishu and thus they are willing to send some cash every now and then. Beyond that, it has minimal local legitimacy as it is only able to stick around due to foreign soldiers, it has no turf, and it has minimal credibility with anyone who matters.
And that is the TFG’s baseline state.
One of the TFG’s primary opponents is the Al-Shahab militia which is the radical wing of the Islamic Courts Union which once was able to be a de facto government and proto-state in Somalia under the Ethiopians invaded in 2006 at the urging of the US. Al-Shahab has radicalized and has adapted some Al Quaeda franchise marks including the increased use of suicide bombers and medium enemy strikes such as the twin bombings in Uganda this summer.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that Al-Shahab is on the offensive to further isolate, concentrate and then smash the TFG.
A suicide strike by two bombers suspected to have belonged to an Al Qaeda-linked group in Somalia killed at least 32 people Tuesday, including six legislators from the country’s Western-funded parliament…
Tuesday’s attack came the day after Al Shabab warned of a massive war against “invaders” in Somalia, which appeared to be a reference to the 6,300 African Union (AU) peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi who are protecting the government from collapse.
Al-Shahab’s attacks mean TFG elites will either ‘govern’ from a comfortable hotel overseas, thus decreasing legitimacy even more, or bunker down in increasingly harder targets, sucking up more AU soldiers for personal security while also increasing their distance from the day to day street life of the capital. Either one is a win for Al-Shahab.
The TFG is a bad joke without a punchline. Once they are either overthrown or more likely reduced to a side-show act at the Mogadishu airport, the United States and the rest of the West will need to come up with a strategy to deal with Al-Shahab.
Supporting another Ethiopian invasion is a dumb idea as the Ethiopians don’t want to destabilize Somalia any more at this time. Continuing to recognize the TFG and sending in the Marines and the 82nd Airborne to seize Mogadishu is politically impossible and strategically counter-productive. Coming to some type of arrangement with Al-Shahab and other anti-TFG groups on areas of common interest such as piracy suppression is a realistic and minimalist goal. The US, and more importantly, the Obama administration won’t do that for fear of a Freeper led gnashing of teeth and Fox News attacks, so we’ll embrace an ineffective and hollow fiction instead.