The first indications of a internal faction battle in al-Shabaab emerged in the middle of June, with fighting in the coastal town of Barawa. The fighting quickly gave way to a broader battle between several factions over control of the key southern port of Kismayo.
Kismayo is an economic and strategic lynchpin to all of southern Somalia, and the fighting includes not only factions hoping to use it to fuel insurgency, but at least one secessionist faction that hopes to establish an independent state-let in the region. 71 people have been killed and over 300 wounded.
No matter who wins, it seems certain they’re going to be an opponent to the self-proclaimed government in Mogadishu, which after years of trying to solidify its power still has little to no direct influence outside of the capital city.
There’s a growing sense of Kenya’s involvement in this as well, with the nation’s troops seen as backing one of the secessionist factions in hopes of creating a state along their northern border that will be easier to control.