Although the Mainstream Media was forced to cover this tragic event because of the enormity of what happened, they didn't promote any viral hashtags or encourage world leaders to march together in solidarity like they do every time something comparably less devastating happens in Europe. Part of the reason for this is that "none of their own" were killed in this attack, while the other has to do with the fact that Somalia is so seemingly far away from the West that their intended audience doesn't really care about what goes on there.
Even so, Al-Shabaab's latest act of terror is indeed a very important event because it suggests that one of the world's most notorious groups is ready to go back on the offensive in East Africa precisely at the moment that Daesh is on the brink of defeat, and there would be far-reaching implications if the War on Terror suddenly spreads to the wider region that's become the focal point of China and India's engagement with the continent. There's also the possibility that a sudden spike in instability in Somalia could lead to a renewed outbreak of piracy in the crucial Gulf of Aden through which almost all European-Asian maritime trade traverses, further crowding this irreplaceable transit space that's already seen a lot of military action due to the War on Yemen.
The core of the problem is that there's a serious security void in Somalia because the country's fledgling government isn't prepared to assume full military responsibilities, while the African Union mission there has been largely ineffective and is scheduled to depart by 2020 anyhow. Some military contributors such as Ethiopia have already left, while others like Burundi and Uganda are thought to only be participating for pecuniary reasons. As for the region's most stable and prosperous state, Kenya, it's been victimized by several high-profile terrorist attacks because of its involvement in Somalia and is reluctant to get drawn into a possible quagmire when it's already caught up in its own unresolved political crisis. All of these factors have led to the world largely forgetting about Somalia, though Al-Shaabab seems hell-bent on reminding them why this is one of the most important fronts in the War on Terror.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Dr. Bischara Ali Egal, Chief Executive Director of the Horn of Africa Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Abdimalik Ahmed, Small business owner, Somali political commentator, local activist based in Columbus, Ohio.
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