Al-Shabab is working with Houthis

In a shocking turn of events, Al-Shabab has reversed all the gains made by the Somali National Army (SNA) over the past two years, collaborating with the Houthi militant group to enhance their destructive capabilities. This alarming development was confirmed by senior U.S. defense officials, who described the situation as both surprising and deeply concerning.

Al-Shabab’s resurgence has shattered the progress painstakingly achieved by the SNA, plunging Somalia back into a state of turmoil. U.S. defense officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have revealed that the Houthis, notorious for their attacks on American and British vessels, are now working closely with Al-Shabab. This unholy alliance is poised to wreak havoc not only in Somalia but also across the broader region.

Houthis’ Deadly Intentions

The Houthis’ sinister agenda extends beyond the Red Sea, with aspirations to establish a formidable presence in the Indian Ocean. Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh disclosed that the Houthis have launched or threatened attacks on U.S. Navy and commercial vessels over 190 times since November 2023. These brazen assaults include the recent attacks on the M/V Verbena and M/V Tutor, which left one crew member severely injured and another missing.

“The Houthis claim to act on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza, yet they indiscriminately endanger the lives of innocents,” Singh stated, highlighting the group’s hypocritical and violent behavior.

A Dangerous Partnership

This newfound collaboration between Al-Shabab and the Houthis, backed by Iranian support, aims to transform Somalia into a hub for advanced missiles and drones. Guled Ahmed, a Horn of Africa scholar at the Middle East Institute, revealed that Iranian-engineered weapons and technology are already flowing into Al-Shabab’s hands. This partnership has facilitated the transfer of sophisticated weaponry, making Al-Shabab an even more formidable adversary.

Despite longstanding efforts by the United States to stem the flow of arms into Somalia, this deadly pipeline persists. The U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions in November 2022 against individuals and entities involved in smuggling arms between Yemen and Somalia have done little to deter the relentless supply of weapons to Al-Shabab.

Somali National Army in Disarray

The SNA, once hailed for putting Al-Shabab on the defensive, is now reeling from a series of strategic blunders and internal corruption. Poor military strategy, inexperienced commanders, and rampant corruption have crippled the SNA’s effectiveness. Ahmed cited the theft of essential supplies and the sale of military equipment on the black market as significant factors in the SNA’s decline.

Al-Shabab has capitalized on these weaknesses, swelling its ranks to between 12,000 and 13,000 fighters through aggressive recruitment and strong financial backing. The militant group has exploited regional tensions, particularly the memorandum of understanding signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland, to bolster its recruitment efforts.

The Road Ahead

As Al-Shabab regains its foothold, the necessity for continued international support becomes increasingly urgent. Senior U.S. defense officials have emphasized the critical need for enabling support to remain in place even as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) winds down.

“They need all the help they can get to confront the security challenges that are in front of them,” one official stressed. The stakes are high, and the international community must rally to prevent Somalia from descending further into chaos.

This startling resurgence of Al-Shabab, bolstered by its alliance with the Houthis, marks a perilous chapter in Somalia’s ongoing struggle for stability. The world watches with bated breath as the Horn of Africa teeters on the brink of a new wave of violence and instability.

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