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A major rift broke out between Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces in El-Wak district of Gedo region in which two soldiers were killed and three others were injured. The fighting erupted as soldiers accused each other of betrayal during an al-Shabaab attack on Sunday in which 25 TFG soldiers were killed.
“The forces of Marehan clan attacked the Garre clan troops after they accused Garre of betraying them by running away from the battlefield,” Mahad Dhagahey, a resident in El-Wak, told Somalia Report.
“Although there are no big casualties, the situation is tense while some of the elders are trying to mediate the rift since this conflict has been repeated several times,” he added.
Speaking to Somalia Report, the former TFG deputy defense minister and current member of parliament, Abdirashid Hidig, expressed his frustration and said that it’s disappointing to see the TFG forces losing at this moment, blaming senior TFG officials in Gedo.
“It’s disappointing to hear al-Shabaab captured some of the districts in Gedo and the two Jubbas. It’s not that al-Shabaab has strengthened itself, but it is due to the bad administration of TFG forces in Gedo,” he said.
“At same time the government has not given those regions the needed support. The government should put their strength on those region to eliminate al-Shabaab completely even if it’s to go back where we were four months ago,” he added.
Somali politicians and experts spoke to Somalia Report and believe that al-Shabaab cannot be defeated in Gedo region as long as the TFG forces are divided along tribal lines and suggested that the entire senior staff in Gedo be replaced.
“There is lack of trust between the Garre, Marehan and Ogaden clans who are all part of the TFG forces. Can you imagine fighters who are fighting on the same side but don’t trust each other? How can they defeat the enemy?” Dr. Omar Ahmed, a Somali academic and politician asked.
Another military expert Colonel Ahmed Hashi, based in Nairobi, believes all the senior officials of Gedo ought to be reshuffled and replaced with officers who are not from the local clans.
“The best way is to change the heads of the forces and replace them with officers who are not those clans especially Marehan, Garre and Ogaden. As long as officers remain in charge from those tribes, they will never get victories. For example, look at the latest two fights where they lost almost 50 soldiers and at least 20 cars were burned and some were captured. That is caused by lack of trust,” he told Somalia Report.
“Forces of TFG in Gedo are more than al-Shabaab in quantity, but without quality it counts for nothing. Each TFG soldier doesn’t fight for his country or government but only for his clan to capture those regions so if these problems are not solved immediately we will see al-Shabaab recapturing the entire Gedo region,” Colonel Hashi explained.
The tribes of Marehaan and Gare have been fighting over El-wak district several times in the last 20 years and now they have brought their conflict within the TFG.