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There have long been reports of a split between al-Shabaab chief Mukhtar Abu-Zubeyr (Ahmed Abdi Godane) and foreign fighters on one side, and Aweys and Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, amongst others, on the other.
“Conflict is nature, and I believe this dispute will make easier more difficulties and misunderstandings between leaders and some officials,” Aweys told Radio Kulmiye. “I can tell you there is a dispute between me and Abu-Zubeyr ... I hope this will be solved.”
“We are going to talk to reporters and media to admit and finalize any problem inside the al-Shabaab leadership; this step will cause more changes in the group.”
Al-Shabaab pulled its forces out of Mogadishu on Saturday, and part of the reason was believed to have been the internal disputes. Somalia Report was told that al-Shabaab held a closed-door meeting in the capital last week, during which Robow and Aweys called for Godane to go, and demanded that humanitarian aid be allowed into al-Shabaab-controlled areas.
According to reliable sources, Godane and foreign fighters rejected the suggestion, prompting Aweys and Robow to withdraw their forces. Robow’s forces have reportedly withdrawn to his stronghold of Baidoa, which has been hit badly by the drought.
In the speech on Radio Kulmiye, Aweys said that al-Shabaab had not been able to continue waging conventional warfare in Mogadishu in face of advances by the African Union peacekeeping mission (known as AMISOM).
“We were not able to face AMISOM battle wagons during Mogadishu fighting, so we decided to change our military tactic,” he said. “We will do as our brothers in Afghanistan do: we will increase hit and run attacks.”