In March 2007, the African Union sanctioned an 8000-strong force (currently 9000) made up mainly of Ugandan and Burundian troops to prop up the weak Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) against the threat of the Islamic extremist group, Al-Shabaab. From a tiny area around Aden Ade International Airport in Mogadishu, AMISOM forces have slowly pushed Al-Shabaab back and now control most of the capital city.
But this has been achieved at great cost both in terms of fatalities and personal strain on the soldiers in the field. Rarely reported - due in part to 'Black Hawk Down Syndrome' amongst those in command keen to hide as much of their own troops' suffering and casualties as possible in case it leads to a backlash back home or worse - amongst those funding the mission and pressure mounts for a withdrawal - the heroic efforts of those on the front-line have largely gone unnoticed. By achieving that which not even US forces were able to do in 1992-1993, namely to secure the city, the larger story - that of Africans solving their own problems in their own backyard where others have failed and with limited resources has largely been lost in the fog of war.
With continuing ‘strategic pullbacks’ by Al-Shabab, events on the ground seem to indicate that the AMISOM mission is now at a crucial stage. With more troops expected there is for the first time in an age a faint glimmer of hope for the famously failed state that an endgame from all the carnage and horror may be in sight.