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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Somalia: Next Stop Kismayo

Even before it kicks off in earnest, the assault on Somalia's port city of Kismayo is causing jitters. A preliminary push by UN-backed African Union troops on the last bastion of Somalia's Al-Shabab insurgency has already added to Somalia's civilian casualties, and there are fears that more may lie ahead as air, ground and naval operations in the strategic city escalate. … Kismayo was fought over by rival clans long before Al-Shabab emerged as a player. "Its strategic importance, as an all-weather port in Somalia's most fertile region, ensures a strong position for those governing the city," said James Smith, an analyst with Rift Valley Institute. "Al-Shabab's presence has guaranteed a degree of stability in Kismayo. If forced out, competition for control of the city may result in inter-clan conflict in the region," said Smith.

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