By Julius Odeke
After two decades of the conflict in the history of Somalia, the year 2012 could be referred to as “the year of rich harvest” following the great strides towards stabilization that the country witnessed in the last 12 months.
The Uganda Contigent Public Relations Officer for African Union Mission In Somalia, Maj Henry Obbo says, “Somalia, a country that was referred to as a failed state, experienced its turning point in 2007 with the landing at Mogadishu airport of some brave 1600 officers and men of the UPDF who in African brotherhood took the risk of liberating this most feared and dangerous part of the world.”
He says at the time when UPDF soldiers were deployed there they were greeted by heavy gunfire and mortar shells, the troops though so few to the task, endured the challenge and as the years passed by, their heroic start has opened new chapters in the history of Somalia.
While addressing journalists in his office, the AMISOM Force Commander, Lt Gen Andrew Gutti said that in 2012, AMISOM operations shifted to second phase which involved rolling out operations and deployment of troops in all the key regions in south and middle Somalia.
Apart from Mogadishu from where Al-Shabaab retreated in 2011, the other regional Capitals of Jubaland, Middle Shaballe, Lower Shabelle, Bay, and Hiraan regions were captured in 2012 and the places left are smaller towns that will likely be captured with little or no resistance.
As part of the consolidation operations to limit threats, by Shabaab remnants and sympathizers, on the population, the AU forces are conducting cordon and search operation, and started community security mobilization drive aimed at promoting dialogue and encouraging disengagement. This coupled with operation pressure imposed on the Insurgents led to massive defections of 274 fighters to Ugandan contingent forces in 2012.