Little Afghanistan in Qobdoro, Mogadishu, Somalia
In the past month, there is a small war. It is a war against a section of Mogadishu, Somalia, on the Horn of Africa. It takes place amongst tree lined streets, abandoned villas, movie theaters, houses and apartments. In better days, a very nice neighborhood. This is Qobdoro, a section of the war ravaged Mogadishu, only four miles from what was once the Presidential Palace and the beach is even closer.
The 8,000-member Transitional Government force is widely considered to be the main bulwark preventing Somalia's al-Shabaab militants from ousting the nation's weak transitional government. Most of the men come from Burundi and Uganda.
Government forces have been slowly encroaching on the "Little Afghanistan", the Qobdoro subarb now home to more than 500 well armed al-Shabaab fighters supported by al-Qaeda. They have sealed off the streets leading into the area and have made the former soccer stadium a military base, complete with trenches and sandbags. the al-Shabaab forces are dedicated diehards with an agenda to take over Mogadishu and have done so in many parts.
The battle for this suburb began slowly two weeks ago with government forces slowly advancing in difficult urban, house to house, combat. Any soldier will tell you, it is the worse kind of combat and time consuming. The government forces have lost at least 55 men so far to the hundreds of al-Shabaab soldiers (if true). Government forces seem to lack the will to confront the dedicated Shabaab fighter resulting in other areas of the city falling to the terrorists. Al-qaeda used the African group to train other foreign terrorists the basics in bomb making, suicide bombings and other techniques.
For those still in the Qobdoro area, residents reveal that extreme Islam is the law. Beheadings and amputations occur for a simple crime like theft of food.
What remains to be seen is whether the government forces are really a match for al-Shabaab fighters stoked on Islam and Jihad. Already, the Ugandan General is hinting that troops will be pulled out especially if al-Shabaab conducts attacks in Uganda (which it has already done and promises to do again).
The only way to crush al-Shabaab there is with overwhelming force and occupation. That does not seem to be in the cards.