Somalia's fragmented state is breaking further, as the United Nations-backed Transitional Federal Government [TFG] agrees to the creation of a new autonomous region on lands taken from the terrorist organization al-Shabaab. While the forming of Jubaland/Azania will isolate and pressure al-Shabaab, it also threatens to spark regional conflict over who is in charge of southern Somalia.
"The idea to create an autonomous region near the Kenyan border is hinged on the reason that it will prevent the movement of al Shabaab extremists within the region," Kenya's Daily Nation reports. Although the borders of the new region are still a question (see this map versus this one), its leaders have vowed to "liberate Jubaland from extremists."
Infiltration by the terrorist organization has been a major concern in neighboring countries and Somalia. For example, leaders of the autonomous Somali region of Puntland have blamed al-Shabaab for political murders and terrorist acts in the town of Galka'yo, north of the territory controlled by the group. The relatively moderate Sufi group Ahlu Sunna Waljama promised to take the fight to al-Shabaab, which has been besieging the civilian population of Gedo, recently liberated by the Sufis.
Kenya, whose towns have felt the effects of al-Shabaab and Somalia's refugee crisis, supports the new region to solve both problems. But Ethiopia and Djibouti, neighbors with sizeable ethnic-Somali populations, are both against "creating autonomies in the war-torn country [which] could inspire further insurgency by other regions or degrade the gains made by the TFG."
Fighting al-Shabaab remains just one of Somalia's issues. President Obama recently issued an order extending U.S. actions against Somali pirates. America's military commander for Africa, General Carter Ham, predicted that the pirates will one day be linked to al-Qaida. Poverty, refugees, and civil war remain endemic, with the borders of al-Shabaab and others entities shifting nearly daily.