Somalia: Somali Government Takes Swift Action Against Military Officers for Frontline Withdrawal

Published: September 6, 2023

Mogadishu, September 6, 2023 – Somali authorities have arrested several military officers for withdrawing troops from frontline positions in the Galgadud region without authorization, resulting in setbacks for ongoing operations against al-Shabab militants in Galmudug State.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, while addressing troops in Mahas district, declared that those officers implicated in the withdrawal of forces would face a military court. The exact number of arrested officers has not been disclosed to the public.

“The soldiers who remained on the frontline are not the same as those who put down their weapons and go to Mogadishu or sold their weapons on the roadside,” remarked President Mohamud.

Last week, President Mohamud acknowledged that Somali armed forces had retreated from several frontline positions, including El Dheer, Masagaway, Gal’ad and Budbud in Galgadud, following a deadly al-Shabab attack on troops in the village of Cosweyne.

The president attributed the unauthorized retreats to “technical errors” and said measures were being taken to raise awareness and encourage troops to return to the frontlines. He admitted the Cosweyne attack had significantly impacted ongoing operations.

The al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabab has been waging a violent insurgency to overthrow Somalia’s government and impose its harsh interpretation of Islamic law since 2007. The group continues to control large swathes of rural Somalia and frequently carries out deadly attacks in major cities.

The arrests of the officers mark a significant development in Somalia’s efforts to bolster security forces and contain al-Shabab’s destabilizing attacks.

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