By William Tucker
Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliated Somali militant group, abruptly left Mogadishu this past Saturday and headed to its southern stronghold. The move may appear to be unusual, considering that the group held most of the capital, however in light of the recent famine it does make sense. Not only can the group not be seen interfering with aid deliveries, lest they lose any supporters, but they also have responsibilities to their respective families and tribes. It is quite possible that the tribal chiefs, along with necessary familial duties, compelled al-Shabaab to abandon some of their northern positions and deal with matters of the home. This is not at all a defeat for the group, but rather a strategic withdrawal. If the African Union and TFG forces can make the most of the al-Shabaab move then it could have repercussions for the militant group. But for now, we must be cautious in our analysis of why the withdrawal happened an begin to focus on what happens next.