Ansar Allah Are Not Working With Al Shabaab – Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad

by Ann Garrison, published on Black Agenda Report, June 26, 2024

US and EU forces have been unable to defeat Ansar Allah and now the US is floating a story that they’re working with Al Shabaab.

On October 19, 2023, Yemen’s Ansar Allah began launching missiles and armed drones at Israel, demanding an end to its war and blockade on the Gaza Strip. More significantly, they began seizing and launching aerial attacks against dozens of merchant and naval vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden that were carrying cargo to and from Israel.

In Arabic, Ansar Allah means “Supporters of God.” It is a Shia Islamist political and military nationalist organization that emerged in Yemen in the 1990s. The group is commonly but disrespectfully referred to as “the Houthis,” a term which has a derogatory tribalist connotation.

The US and EU went to war with Ansar Allah by air and sea after it began disrupting shipping to and from Israel, but eight months later it’s not going well for them. On June 14, the Associated Press reported that the US Navy is facing its most intense combat since World War II against Ansar Allah, and on June 20, the group sank a second cargo ship in the Red Sea.

The crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower are reported to be fatigued , and it’s finally leaving to be replaced by another aircraft carrier currently deployed in the Pacific.

The commander of the EU’s Operation Aspides says it needs to double the fleet it now has in the Red Sea to fight the Houthis.

During the third week of June, it was widely  reported that US intelligence believes that Ansar Allah are now working with the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The reports cited US intelligence sources who claim that the group are planning to upgrade Al-Shabaab’s weapons supply. I spoke to Somali Kenyan scholar Dr. Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad , who says that’s nonsensical propaganda.

ANN GARRISON: Why do you think these reports are so implausible?

ABDIWAHAB SHEIKH ABDISAMAD: Muslims around the globe are 85% Sunni and 15% Shia, with the Shia controlling Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. This is an important point to keep in mind when trying to understand this latest effort to manufacture consent for further US destabilization of Somalia.

Ansar Allah are Shia Muslims, and Al-Shabaab is a Sunni group. Al-Shabaab is an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, and Shia have fought against Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Any discerning individual will know that there is no way Al-Shabaab will accept assistance from a Shia group or that the Shia group will offer it.

However, the Ansar Allah government in Yemen, just like many other governments, may engage in the trade of surplus weapons to middlemen. This is well-known. Weapons traders in the region can buy weapons from them and sell them to any groups, including Al-Shabaab, clan militias in Somalia, and Sudan’s paramilitary group the Rapid Support Forces.

AG: Some of the reports noted that the Shia Ansar Allah and Sunni Al-Shabaab aren’t likely to want to work together, but that they might set aside their differences because of their shared animosity towards the United States. What do you think of that?

ASA: The two groups both see America as a common enemy. However, their shared hate is not enough for them to cooperate or develop a joint strategy against the US. This is because there is deep mistrust between them. They do not trust each other due to their ideological differences.

AG: Ansar Allah are a Shia group supporting one Sunni group, Hamas, so one might ask why they wouldn’t support Al-Shabaab as well.

ASA: Hamas has a righteous cause, but Al-Shabaab are just a terrorist group.

The powerful Shia section of the Muslims who control Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have assumed leadership of the entire Muslim world by making the right decision to support Hamas against the genocidal regime of Israel. This has gained the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world, but it does not mean that Al-Shabaab would agree to work with them, or that they would want to work with Al-Shabaab.

AG: What do you think is motivating US intelligence to make these allegations?

ASA: A new narrative is being cooked—that Ansar Allah and Al-Shabaab are in contact. This is cheap propaganda and is easily debunked by anyone who understands history and has been following regional developments.

This narrative is false and deliberately misleading and is part and parcel of the attempt to weaken Somalia’s sovereignty and make way for intervention by the same old foreign forces that are asked time and again to leave Somalia.

It’s a norm in Western countries to create a false narrative when they want to invade a country and weaken their sovereignty. The same music was played to invade Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria. They are composing a new song that Ansar Allah and Al-Shabaab are working together to invade Somalia again.

AG: But the US is already in Somalia. They have a drone base and military operation with a bigger budget than that of the Somali government, which is largely supported by the US. Are you saying that they want to escalate, to send more forces to further dominate Somalia?

ASA: The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) peacekeeping forces will leave the country at the end of this year, and reliable sources indicate that another UN peacekeeping force, similar to the Operation Restore Hope of 1992, will replace them. If that information is true then another failed project is in the pipeline. This will be even more disastrous than the 1992 operation, and Somalia will be in chaos for the next decade.

AG: The reports about collaboration between Ansar Allah and Al-Shabaab are vague, but they seem to suggest that the two will collaborate to stop shipping to and from Israel, opening another front on the Indian Ocean. Since you don’t think they will collaborate, I assume you don’t believe that, but do you think there’s any chance that Al-Shabaab will, on its own, attempt to disrupt shipping to and from Israel?

ASA: Al-Shabaab doesn’t have the capability to prevent or disrupt shipping to and from Israel, but Houthis have that capacity.

AG: It seems that the US may also be advancing this story as an argument for greater military escalation against Ansar Allah.

ASA: I think that is also true.

*Featured Image: Ansar Allah militiamen in Amran province, Yemen, 20 December 2023. Credit: Osamah Yahya

Ann Garrison is a Black Agenda Report Contributing Editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at . You can help support her work on Patreon .

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