After last week’s spike in naval bombardments on Kismayo, the southern Somali port city critical to the funding of al-Shabab, a heavily anticipated, large-scale military mobilization appears to be edging irrevocably closer. The looming confrontation comes at a critical time for Somalia as the country wraps up an eight-year transitional governance period and prepares to seat a new president.
In a statement released on Aug. 14, the U.N. claimed, “fighting for control of the town appears imminent.” The bombardments from an unidentified ship, which reportedly claimed the lives of residents, are fuelling an exodus from the city.
“That sort of terminology wouldn’t be used if it wasn’t known in the highest echelons of the political scene, as relayed through [the African Union Mission in Somalia],” said Adjoa Anyimadu, Africa researcher at Chatham House. “And the fleeing of civilians shows the level of conflict on the ground is increasing. These signs show something is happening.”