Local Somalis react to al-Shabab's retreat from capital cityby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The terrorist group al-Shabab has retreated from the Somali capital of Mogadishu, giving hope to Somalis around the world and in Minnesota who are concerned about the drought and famine in their home country.
Al-Shabab has stood in the way of humanitarian efforts to aid people starving in Somalia. University of Minnesota geography chair, Somali-American Abdi Samatar, says there are several reasons that al-Shabab is retreating from Mogadishu.
"There's an internal rift or conflict within al-Shabab itself that has weakened it. And then the people have begun to sort of distance themselves from them," said Samatar. "Then there have been a number of war engagements in Mogadishu between themselves and the African Union force which has weakened them substantially."
As a result of those factors, Samatar says, al-Shabab has begun to understand that it will not be able to control the entire city of Mogadishu, and they will be "better off to be in the countryside."
He adds that al-Shabab's retreat would mean more possibilities for fostering democracy in Somalia.
"A rethinking of the American policy toward Somalia, and assisting and enabling the civic movement in that country to take charge of the direction of the future of the country -- this movement of al-Shabab from Mogadishu offers our government," said Samatar. "Whether our government has the wisdom or inclination to do this, I'm not too sure."
Al-Shabab still holds most of southern Somalia, where experts believes tens of thousands of people are starving.