Somali troops backed by African peacekeepers have recaptured the last major port in Somalia held by the militant group Al Shabab, removing an awkward source of Gulf revenue from the rebels just a month after the death of Ahmed Abdi Godane, the group’s leader.
With support from local African Union (AU) force, the town and port of Barawe, located 200km southwest of Mogadishu, fell “without much resistance from the terrorist group.”
Al Shabab had been using Barawe port to export charcoal through to the Gulf States – a trade that was estimated to earn the group at least $25m a year, according to UN estimates.
AMISOM, the AU’s peace-keeping mission in Somalia, stated that, “the group used Barawe to export charcoal to the Middle East in a lucrative multi-million dollar business that served as their main source of funding,” alongside an inflow of import arms and foreign fighters.
Having already lost control of the strategic port of Kismayo in late 2012, Al Shabab now has no major town in their hands, while provincial governor Abdukadir Mohamed Nur said the situation was “calm, as the militiamen had fled before the forces reached the town.”
From the GCC’s perspective, the mission puts an end to an undesirable trade relationship between Gulf-based charcoal buyers and the Somali rebels, while the resumption of public order will pave the way for the rehabilitating the infrastructure and the promotion of a legal trade.