An al Shabaab governor has averred that the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia was linked to the domestic political crisis back home.
According to Hassan Yaqoub, al Shabaab as a group were delighted at the withdrawals. He is quoted by the Voice of America (VOA) journalist in the country as saying, ‘‘Ethiopians have turned their back.’‘
His view is in contrast to the official government position that the troop pull out was not related to anti-government protests that have led to the imposition of a six-month state of emergency.
Communication minister Getachew Reda explained at a news conference in the capital Addis Ababa last Wednesday that their decision was due to limited support in the fight against Al Shabaab which creates a financial burden.
“The troops are not under the AMISOM mandate and are unfortunately not supported in their efforts to assist the Somali National Army … The Somali National Army and the international community must take responsibility,” Reda said.
He also noted that the withdrawal does not affect the 4,400 Ethiopian contingent operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) but only “a few thousands financially supported by Ethiopia.”
The United Nations recently expressed grave concern at the troop withdrawals which it said endangered the lives of civilian population and that of people working in humanitarian capacity in the areas al Shabaab recaptures immediately after the pull out.
According to the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA), the situation is worsening the humanitarian situation in Somalia.
Ethiopia has since July 2, 2016 withdrawn its troops from neighbouring Somalia. Territories that they leave are almost taken over by al Shabaab. The last withdrawal (on October 26) was in the town of Tayeglow in the Bakool region.
‘‘Since July 2016, non-state armed actors have taken control of eight locations in Bakool, Galgaduug and Hiraan regions of Somalia following the departure of international troops.
‘‘The takeover by non-state armed groups has exposed civilians to significant protection risks and further reduced humanitarian access in areas that are already hard to reach’ an OCHA statement said.
The locations now in the hands of al shabaab include Rab Dhuure, Bur Dhuxelne, Garas Weyne and Tayeeglow in Bakool region; Budbud and Galcad in Galgaduud region; Moqokori, Ceel Cali and Halgan in Hiraan region.