A Turning Point in Somalia?
Wires are reporting that Aden Hashi Ayro was killed in overnight US airstrikes on Somalia. If it’s true then it could be a turning point in the Islamist-led insurgency. He is/was the leader of the Shabaab, a nasty militia that acted as the military wing of the Islamic Courts Union.
With the defeat of the courts in December 2006 he had turned his attention to leading a guerilla fight against the Somali government and its Ethiopian allies.In the past week they were closing in on Baidoa, Somalia’s seat of government.
If he has been killed in a strike on Dusamareb then it suggests US intelligence was much better than many people had thought. But the question now is whether someone else will fill his shoes or whether al Shabaab will turn out to be a one-man band.
Update: Talking to my small band of Somali experts the upshot is this: Things could go either way. Al Shabaab will survive. But the key question is what impact Ayro’s death will have on attempts to bring together the old Islamic Courts (now the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia) and the government, in an administration that the majority of Somalis can support.