Talk to Al Jazeera

The threat of al-Shabab

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and UN envoy Nicholas Kay examine the challenges facing Somalia and the region.

Last Modified: 30 Sep 2013 12:43
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A gun battle inside a shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi has left at least 68 people dead and more than 150 wounded. Twenty-four hours later, an operation to secure the Westgate centre, one of the city's most exclusive shopping malls, was ongoing.

The enemy [al-Shabab] is very weak ... if they were really a potent force, they would have become very big by now...

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

The Somali group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, demanding that Kenya pull troops back from its neighbouring country, where the group is fighting against the government.

So what is the situation in Somalia? And how does the conflict affect neighbouring countries?

One of those 'foreign' nations involved or touched by events in Somalia is Uganda. For years, the country has sent men and weapons to fight al-Shabab.

Many Ugandans have died in the conflict in Somalia or after attacks in Uganda itself.

On Talk to Al Jazeera we talk to the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, who is one of the longest serving leaders and most experienced politicians in Africa.

We are on the brink ... [of] really achieving some great things in Somalia, and helping the Somali people to enjoy a much better future. The challenge at the moment is security.

UN special envoy for Somalia Nicholas Kay

"That [Westgate] attack was horrible, however it was not surprising … when you allow terrorists to occupy free territory for years then you are asking for something like that," Museveni says. 

The president states that he is willing to continue fighting al-Shabab, but he is doing so while simultaneously facing questions about his own leadership at home. Some critics are accusing him and his government of corruption while others say he has simply been in power too long.

We also talk to the UN special envoy for Somalia, Nicholas Kay. He has the challenging job of bringing all UN resources to bear in an effort to dislodge Somalia from the hands of fighters and warlords.

It might be a near impossible task, but for Kay, he says, it is the perfect job.

"This is what I do, I am a diplomat that likes things to be relatively .. primary colours, war and peace, life and death, if you can make a difference to those things. As a diplomat on the ground in these places, that is what gets me out of bed in the morning," Kay said.  

But how big a threat is al-Shabab to Somalia and the region? What are the challenges the different governments are facing? And what efforts have been made by the international community to tackle the group's activities?
On this edition of Talk to Al Jazeera we look at al-Shabab, African politics and Somalia.
This episode of Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen from September 30 at the following times GMT: Sunday: 1930; and Monday: 1430

Watch more Talk to Al Jazeera


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