After the surrender of Kismayo, defection rates among foot soldiers were also expected to pick up, with the rebel group seen as a losing proposition. What will be left behind, analysts say, is a hardline core.
Whether al-Shabab is able to wage a prolonged campaign of guerrilla attacks on Kismayo will largely hinge on the Mogadishu-based government's success in establishing a regional administration that satisfies competing clan interests in the south. "If you have marginalized clans, al-Shabab will find allies in them. If all clans are on board, it will be hard for al-Shabab to infiltrate Kismayo," the security adviser said.