Mogadishu, Asharq al-Awsat-The Somali Youth Mujahidin Movement [MYM], which is currently in control of the town of Kisimayo, 500 kilometer south of the capital Mogadishu, has threatened to wage what it called “a holy war” on Kenya on Monday due to the Kenyan government mobilizing its troops on its border with Somalia. Sheikh Hasan Jidi, a prominent MYM leader and deputy governor of the Islamic province of Juba, said that his group received information that Kenya is planning to launch a major offensive on Somali border areas which are under the control of the MYM, that it is mobilizing thousands of troops on the border areas, and that Somali militias received military training in Kenyan territories to fight against the MYM fighters.
Sheikh Jidi said that US warplanes flew over Kisimayo over the past two days. He added: “They are all planning to attack us by sea, land, and air, so we have to be prepared to defend religion and homeland. We maintain that the enemies are going to attack us. We should not wait until they come, but must be prepared to repulse the attack they plan to launch.” According to eyewitnesses in Kisimayo, warplanes, believed to be American, flew many sorties over the city at a low altitude, increasing fears in the region.
The MYM’s announcement in Kisimayo came in response to the massing of thousands of Kenyan troops along the border of the two countries. The Kenyan government has voiced its fears that the MYM fighters may enter its territories if the Somali government launches an offensive on the bases of the Somali Islamist rebels. In addition, approximately 2,500 Somali recruits who received military training in Kenya were in en route to the border areas. According to security sources, these new recruits intend to launch an offensive on the southern Somali areas from the Kenyan border. The Kenyan government had earlier hinted at the possibility of intervening militarily in Somalia if necessary, particularly if Kenya’s national security is endangered or its strategic interests are threatened.
In another development, Ethiopian army units have crossed the Somali border and reached an area 30 kilometers north of Baldwin in central Somalia. In addition, the province of Bakul in southwest of the country witnessed another Ethiopian military move.
Media war began between the Somali government and the opposition groups with each side trying to galvanize militias to its side before a new round of fighting breaks out, something that is expected any time. The MYM today displayed weapons it captured and paraded troops it said they dissented from the government forces and joined the YMM fighters. It displayed 50 AK 47 guns and an officer who led the dissident force. A spokesman for the MYM said that “the movement welcomes any troops that dissent from the government and called on other government forces to lay down their arms, abandon the government, and surrender to the mujahidin. He said that 50 government personnel, some of whom recently received training in Djibouti, today surrendered voluntarily to the MYM.” The Somali government has made no comment on this issue. This is not the first time one of the fighting parties in Somalia has paraded forces that dissented from its adversary and surrendered. Troops and militias of the Somali government had previously fled and joined the MYM, and vice versa.
Sheikh Yusuf Ziyad Antaadi, minister of state at the Somali Defense Ministry, said that “his government had previously suffered big financial problems that led to postponing launching a major military offensive to drive the rebels out of the capital Mogadishu.” He added that “the international community did nothing worth mentioning to support the Somali government financially, but the government has now overcome those problems.”