Addis Ababa, 11 February 2012: The Chairperson of  the Commission of  the African Union (AU), Jean Ping, has learnt of the announcement, on 9 February 2012, in a video statement,by  the  head  of  Al  Qaeda,  Ayman  Al  Zawahiri,  that  Somalia’s  Al  Shabaab  had  officially affiliated  itself with  the  international  terrorist organization.  This  followed an earlier audio message  in  which  the  Somali  group's  leader,  Ahmed  Abdi  Godane  aka Mukhtar  Abu  al-Zubeyr, pledged allegiance to the al Qaeda leader, vowing that his followers "will march with him as loyal soldiers." 

The decision by Al Shabaab to formally join Al Qaeda is a desperate move by a group riddled with  internal disputes and weakened following the recent gains made  in Mogadishu by the forces of  the Transitional Federal Government  (TFG) and  those of AMISOM, as well as  the operations being conducted in other parts of the country by the TFG forces with the support of Ethiopia and the new AMISOM contingent from Kenya. 
The Chairperson of the Commission notes that the evidence  is now clear that Al Shabaab  is an  outfit  of  Al  Qaeda,  driven  by  a  global  terrorist  agenda,  far  removed  from  the preoccupations and interests of the people of Somalia, and bent on destabilizing the Horn of Africa and beyond. Over the years, Al Shabaab has caused mayhem  in Somalia and  inflicted untold  suffering  to  the Somali people, as demonstrated by  its  repeated and  indiscriminate attacks against civilians and its refusal to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations, especially during the severe drought that affected Somalia last year.  
Against  this background,  the Chairperson of  the Commission  reiterates AU’s appeal  to  the Somalis  who  have  not  yet  joined  the  Djibouti  peace  process,  including  the  June  2011 Kampala Accord and the September 2011 Mogadishu Political Roadmap, to do so in earnest. 
He urges them to pursue their political objectives through peaceful means, with due respect to the legitimate aspirations of the Somali people and their desire to open a new chapter in the troubled history of their nation.

The  Chairperson  of  the  Commission  calls  on  the  international  community  to  extend  the required support to the Somali people  in  their quest  for peace, stability and reconciliation. Today more than ever before, there is an opportunity to turn around the situation in Somalia 
for  the  greater  good  of  its  long-suffering  people  and  in  support  of  regional  stability and international security, including the overall efforts to fight terrorism and piracy.   
In  this  respect,  the Chairperson of  the Commission emphasizes once again  that support by the UN Security Council  to the strengthening of AMISOM, on  the basis of its new strategic concept, as adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council on 5 January 2012, is paramount. Accordingly, he urges the Security Council to speedily take the action expected of  it,  in line with its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Such a step will go a  long way in strengthening the momentum towards a successful Conference in  London  on  23  February  2012  and will  pave  the  way  for  a greater mobilization  of  the international community in support of peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia.  
The Chairperson of the Commission also calls on all AU partners to provide adequate support for  the Somali national  security  forces, which, ultimately, are expected  to ensure  the  long term  security of Somalia and contribute  towards  the  implementation of  the AU peace and security agenda. 

Posted by Tchioffo Kodjo

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