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Kismayo Basking in Peace and Tranquility
Africa

Kismayo Basking in Peace and Tranquility

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Al Shabaab scored military victories, seizing control of key towns and ports in both central and southern Somalia. By January 2009, the group and other militias had managed to force the Ethiopian troops to retreat, leaving behind an under-equipped African Union peacekeeping force to assist the Transitional Federal Government's troops. Kismayo was regarded as Al Shabaab's last major stronghold on account of the revenue that the group was able to generate for itself through exporting charcoal and levying port taxes on imported goods. Amisom and SNA offensive assault thus represented a major, morale-dampening loss for the rebel group that was forced to retreat with massive casualties. Capturing the city signaled the end of Al Shabaab because Kismayo was the bastion which financed their activities. Seven years later, the small town with a population of about 190,000 people is slowly rising from the ashes of war. This is a clear indication that Amisom's ’s presence within the area under sector six has had a great impact on the lives of the residents. Despite the new breath, a sad reality of KDF planning to exit by 2021 has started taking shape. So far the troops under Amisom have started gearing up on an exit plan that will see Somalia National Defence Forces take over. According to the Officer Commanding infantry battalion in Kismayo, Lieutenant Colonel Meshack Kishoyian, Amisom developed operations guidelines that run between 2018-2021. In the guidelines he said there is a clear breakdown on how the Amisom troops should operate towards a gradual handover to the Somalia forces. Though the guidelines known as Concept of Operations (Conops) do not indicate an actual date when the troops exit in 2021, Kishoyian said they have already embarked on mentoring of Somali forces through joint operations that will see them take over.der joint operation of KDF and Ethiopian forces. “We are conducting joint offensive operations to degrade Al Shabaab. For now we ensure that Somalia forces are on front line as we support them to remain tactical and professional,” he said. This he said is key to helping the Somali forces understand the scope of operations and the type of the enemy they are dealing with. According to Conops the exit will be conducted gradually to allow a smooth transition. “It is true there have been a lot of politics and standoffs between Kenya and Somalia but it should remain clear that military matters cannot be mixed with politics. We are conducting our mission here in accordance with Amisom guidelines,” he said. Top military commanders under Amisom in February met and agreed on key operations and activities to be executed under the Mission’s new Conops, approved late last year by the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC).