More than four months ago I made a blog post about the front lines in Mogadishu. A lot has changed after that. The TFG and AMISOM have made significant military gains. Most of the gains were made by AMISOM with little TFG help when they moved from Jalle Siyad military academy to the Defence ministry in late February; they took Halwadag, Aden Adde, and Bakara intersections in late May (here they had little TFG-ASWJ support); Officers’ House next to the Defence Ministry and the district of Bondhere – where it is said TFG soldiers were mixed with AMISOM soldiers – in early June, effectively conquering areas lost by the TFG from early 2010 to late 2010 (before and after the Shabab Ramadan offensive in Halwadag, Wardhigley, Bondhere and Hodan districts) and in 2009 (the Defence Ministry and the Officers’ House).Now there is no major street or strategic building in or near the front lines manned solely by the TFG. There is no record of AMISOM losing territory to Shabab, so this may signal the beginning of the end of Shabab gaining territory in Mogadishu.
AMISOM and TFG officials have been saying that they intend to take or besiege Bakara to deny Shabab a vital source of revenue. The Bakara Market is now besieged from the North, West and South. Business is hardly done there, and most businesses have shifted to Elasha Biyaha, which started as clusters of IDP camps squatting on private property, most of which have been reclaimed by their owners and sold to businesses at very good prices (20mx20m pieces of land are worth 100,000 USD in some areas of Elasha Biyaha, according to residents). The plan to deny the Shabab their Bakara revenue has apparently failed. They have to invade Elasha Biyaha (15 KM from centre of Mogadishu) to do that.
The new front line is as long as before – about 8 kilometers – in Mogadishu. It starts from the Defence Ministry and the Officers’ House to the North of Bakara and goes towards the south along Bakara’s western outskirts in the African Village area , where it takes an easterly direction along Wadnaha Road (wadada wadnaha) where it turns south at Afarta Jardino (also written Darjino) towards Manabolyo and Jubba intersections where it ends just by the sea as before.
Now the Shabab have ordered people to vacate residences near the Wadnaha Road on their side, in Yaqshid and Wardhigley. They have reportedly started fortifying thier positions there and are unlikely to give them up easily.
If the new TFG administration continues pressuring the Shabab as their predecessors, the Shabab may withdraw from Mogadishu and resort to Urban Guerilla warfare in the capital, as has been suggested by some Shabab sources.