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Cablegate: Somalia - Tfg/Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'a Experience Gains,

VZCZCXRO9792
OO RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #1796/01 2361533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241533Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0774
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RUZEFAA/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 001796

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/E and A/S Carson

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MOPS PTER SOCI MARR SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - TFG/Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'a Experience Gains,
Losses in Recent Fighting

1. (SBU) Summary: The last week marked a period of heightened
military activities in parts of Somalia involving TFG troops and the
allied forces of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'a (ASWJ) against al-Shabaab and
allied Hisbul Islam fighters. Several towns, including Bula Hawa
and Luq in Gedo region which al-Shabaab and Hisbul Islam had earlier
lost to the TFG/ASWJ, reverted to al-Shabaab after an unexplained
TFG/ASWJ retreat. The TFG's offensive against al-Shabaab for the
Hiraan region town of Bula Burte ended prematurely after al-Shabaab
fighters attacked Beledweyne, a Hiraan town under TFG control,
forcing TFG troops to return to its defense. Similarly, al-Shabaab
managed to push ASWJ fighters out of Wabho, Hiraan region,
reversing a loss of a mere week ago. A near-simultaneous ASWJ
attempt to take control of Mahas, Hiraan region, failed. ASWJ
maintains control of the Hawiye/Abgal/Waesle majority southern
Galgaduud towns of Elder, Galad and, Ronnirgood. Last week also saw
an increase in extremist attacks on AMISOM/TFG positions in
Mogadishu. Despite the uptick in al-Shabaab attacks, observers in
Somalia believe that al-Shabaab is getting weaker and more
vulnerable while the TFG/ASWJ, although disorganized, are becoming
more confident and assertive. End summary.

TFG Gedo Gains Reversed
-----------------------

2. (SBU) On August 17, ASWJ fighters took control of Bula Hawa town
after al-Shabaab retreated without a fight. (Note: The media
reported that the ASWJ fighters were a mix of ASWJ and former TFG
troops, chiefly Marehan and Rahanweyn clan militias, based at the
border town of Dolo. End note.) ASWJ's fortunes were reversed on
August 19, when al-Shabaab attacked and, after a brief battle, ASWJ
retreated from Bula Hawa to Dolo town.

3. (SBU) On August 19, TFG troops from Dolo captured Luq from Hisbul
Islam fighters without a fight, only to voluntarily retreat the
following morning, August 20, allowing Hisbul Islam to return to its
original positions. (Note: The TFG has offered no explanation for
its troops' retreat. End note.) On August 22, Hisbul Islam fighters
in Luq announced a merger with al-Shabaab, no doubt to aid their
defense against further TFG attempts on Luq.

Bula Burte: the Victory
That Never Was
------------------------

4. (SBU) Emboldened by their successes against al-Shabaab/Hisbul
Islam in Beledweyne in mid-July, ambitious TFG troops moved to wrest
Bula Burte, also in the Hiraan region, from al-Shabaab. On August
20, TFG troops engaged in a fierce battle, which lasted for close to
twelve hours, against al-Shabaab fighters in Bula Burte. Despite a
press release from the TFG President's communications office
announcing the TFG capture of Bula Burte, the fighting ended
inconclusively and al-Shabaab remained in possession of the town.
As the TFG troops were fighting in Bula Burte, al-Shabaab fighters
launched a tactical counter-attack on Beledweyne, successfully
occupying the western part of the town in pushing TFG troops across
the Shabelle River.

5. (SBU) Al-Shabaab's capture of western Beledweyne prompted the
arrival of ENDF troops. The ENDF did not attack al-Shabaab,
however. Instead they defended the rest of the town from al-Shabaab
encroachment until TFG reinforcements, who had retreated from Bula
Burte, reached Beledweyne and attacked. Al-Shabaab in the end
returned to western Beledweyne after the ENDF left town later in the
evening of August 20. Beledweyne is now under TFG and
al-Shabaab/Hisbul Islam control.

AWSJ Loses Wabho,
Galgaduud
-----------------

6. (SBU) On August 20, in an uncoordinated attack against
al-Shabaab, Hiraan ASWJ (Hawiye/Hawadle) failed to re-take Mahaas
town which they had lost to al-Shabaab in May. On the same day,
Galgaduud ASWJ (a mix of several Galgaduud clans) lost control of
the Hiraan region town of Wabho barely two weeks after they had
taken possession of it. ASWJ contacts told us that Hiraan and
Galgaduud ASWJ had originally planned to jointly attack al-Shabaab's
base in Mahaas, but had failed to properly coordinate their efforts.

NAIROBI 00001796 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) El-Der, Galad and, Ronnirgood towns in southern Galgaduud
remained under Hawiye/Abgal/Waesle ASWJ militia control following
clashes with al-Shabaab two weeks ago. (Note: There is no Waesle
area currently under al-Shabaab occupation. End note.)
Hawiye/Abgaal sources in Mogadishu told us that the other Abgaal
subclans --Hari Abgal and Wabudhan-- have begun mobilizing militia
in what could become an effort to remove al-Shabaab from their areas
in Middle Shabelle region as a result of recent Abgal/Waesle
successes.

Increasing Attacks
in Mogadishu
------------------

8. (SBU) The last week also saw an increase in both the frequency
and intensity of extremists' attacks against TFG/AMISOM positions at
ex-control Afgoye and the KM 4 area. On August 22, there was fierce
al-Shabaab and allied extremist fighting against TFG troops at
ex-control Afgoye. AMISOM troops in nearby Siyad academy had to
intervene to repulse extremist fighters reportedly causing them
severe casualties. On the evening of the same day, extremists
launched mortar attacks at Maka-al Mukarma and KM 4 areas, engaging
AMISOM and TFG troops in combat. Extremist forces reportedly
retreated under heavy AMISOM shelling, again sustaining high
casualties. In the confusion during the fighting, AMISOM shelling
reportedly caused some TFG troop casualties.
RANNEBERGER

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