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The Propaganda war In Somalia,Best Wins

Isniin 24 October 2011 SMC


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The African Union Troops allied with Somali Government Soldieries has advanced into a Shabab’s last remaining Stronghold of Dayniile district, in order to dislodge the Shabab from The Capital Mogadishu.

Since the start of the Fighting early Wednesday, there has been conflicting reports on casualties of AU troops and government troops as a matter of course.

AlShabab claimed to have killed 70 foreign African Union peacekeepers, But sources argue Shabab militants had stolen uniforms and dressed up scores of their own dead. 

An A.U SpokesmanLt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said that 10 soldiers had been killed and two were missing after Thursday's battle. The bodies of the 10 dead soldiers were safely in AU hands, he said."It's a manipulated picture," Ankunda said. "They dressed up their own casualties ... I think they've been keeping some uniforms." 

Not surprisingly, that is a charge one Shabab commander vehemently denies. "This is propaganda to cover up their own deaths caused by the The Mujahidin," says Ali Rage, speaking to the media. The truth, of course, is elusive, but it is certain that such exchanges of accusation and counter-accusation will be fierce and frequent in coming weeks.

The AU and Somali government seeks to counter the propaganda through their own spokespeople, some of whom now also use local media, but is bound by the need to verify details of casualties before releasing them.

“As the government, we have to check and coordinate information and make sure we give accurate information to the public -- that is why we are slower than them,” said interior ministry spokesman. “The Shabab are fast but inaccurate. Through this tactic, they can achieve short-term propaganda successes but in the long term, we are the winners because we give the accurate information.” He said.

For now, AU and Government soldiers have taken the advantage, pushing into Dayniile with overwhelming force. But the Shababan are experts at killing with a thousand cuts.

Convincing the local people that they are not simply a transitory Goliath, that they will stick around and enforce the peace, will be key for the AU and government soldiers  to winning the trust of the locals. Key for the Shabab will be prolonging the battle as long as possible to maximize the AU Casualties and turn the deaths into their last Propaganda campaign. In this case, as in so many other guerrilla wars, the best propagandist wins.

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