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Al-Shabaab oo sheegtay in ay 87 askar iyo saraakiil ah ku dishay qaraxyadii Maxaas [Bayaan]. Somalia’s govt imposes curfew in Mogadishu, cancels flights ahead of Djibouti president’s visit

What’s new? Al-Shabaab’s lethal insurgency continues with no end in sight. The group consistently stays a step ahead of local and regional military operations. Combined with dysfunction and division among their adversaries, the militants’ agility has allowed them to embed themselves in Somali society. It also makes them hard to defeat.

Why does it matter? The protracted war has cost countless lives and derailed Somalia’s state-building project. There is growing domestic and international consensus that Al-Shabaab cannot be beaten by military means alone. Yet there is little appetite among Somali elites or the country’s international partners for exploring alternatives, notably talks with militant leaders.

What should be done? Putting off efforts to engage militants in the hope of gaining the upper hand militarily or forging greater unity among elites will prolong the conflict indefinitely. The government should seek discreet channels to Al-Shabaab leaders to test whether political negotiations and confidence-building steps might be feasible.

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