warlord Ahmed Madobe strengthened control
of the key southern port of Kismayo, residents
said Monday, after days of clashes between rival
Heavy fighting broke out Friday when the Ras
Kamboni militia of Madobe — recently self-
appointed “president” of the southern Jubaland
region — battled forces loyal to Iftin Hassan
Basto, another leader claiming to be president.
“The situation is quiet now and most parts of
the town are controlled by Madobe’s men,” said
resident Abdulahi Mire, adding that rival forces
had been forced outside town, but “are not far
Several rival factions claim ownership of
Kismayo, a former stronghold of the Al-Qaeda-
linked Shebab where Kenyan troops in an
African Union force are now based.
The Kenyan troops, who invaded Somalia in
2011, back Madobe’s control of the strategic
and economic hub, but neither the title of
“president” nor the region of Jubaland is
recognised by the weak central government in
“Business is slowly returning to normal, we
can’t hear gunfire today… we hope the situation
stays calm like this,” said Ahmed Moyale,
Jubaland lies in the far south of Somalia,
bordering both Kenya and Ethiopia, and control
is split between multiple forces including clan
militia, the Shebab and Kenyan and Ethiopian
Jubaland joins other semi-autonomous regions
of the fractured Horn of Africa nation, including
Puntland in the northeast — which wants
autonomy within a federation of states — and
Somaliland in the northwest, which fiercely
defends its self-declared independence.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who
holds little sway in the port city, said all sides
should end the fighting.
“The time for fighting is over,” he said in a
statement. “We must unite and seek to resolve
our differences peacefully, we must unite for
the fight against Al-Shebab.”
The Kenyan and Somali presidents met last
week, discussing among other issues Nairobi’s
role in Jubaland, which has a lucrative charcoal
industry, fertile farmland and potential offshore
oil and gas deposits.
Many eye the economic, strategic and political
profits of the region.
Kenya views the region as a key buffer zone to
protect its borders, but in Jubaland, it has
ended up backing a warlord opposing the
central government it is mandated — and funded
by the UN and European Union — to support.
In the past two years, AU troops have wrested
town after town from the Shebab, hauling down
their black Islamist banners and raising
But asserting the authority of the central
government — which until recently controlled
just a few blocks of the capital Mogadishu — is a
far harder task.
Analysts warn the rivalries risk threatening the
fragile progress made in Somalia.
“The crisis…threatens to destabilise the entire
country if not properly dealt with,” the Heritage
Institute for Policy Studies, a Somali research
group, wrote in a recent report, warning the
clashes risk “creating an opening for Al-Shebab
to reassert control in recently recovered areas.”