Several Somali media sources are reporting that a segment of Al-Shabaab led by commander Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur may surrender to the Somali government following Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo’s surprise victory in Somalia’s presidential election. Abu Mansur is said to have declared Farmaajo’s victory ‘the will of the people.’
Abu Mansur reportedly leads the ‘nationalist’ wing of Al-Shabaab, which is comparatively moderate and has some loyalties to the concept of a Somali-nation state. The other wing of Al-Shabaab, which is thought to be smaller by analysts, is made up of a core of radicals who reject nationalism and who instead place their loyalty with Al-Qadea and an ideology of transnational jihadism with the ultimate aim of establishing a global Islamic caliphate.
In addition to Islamists, Al-Shabaab is also made up of many fighters from marginalized clans who join the group not because of ideological fidelity to its ideas but instead to protect their clan interests from the perceived unjustness of the central government and larger clans with more political influence. Because Farmaajo is highly popular among Somalis, with a reputation for nationalism , independence, and fairness, it is plausible that he will be able to make headway in bringing about large-scale defections from Al-Shabaab if he is able to bring about a more inclusive political dispensation in the country.