In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group’s Somalia expert, about whether the pullout from Somalia of foreign troops – in this case African Union forces – could open the door for the Islamist militants Al-Shabaab to seize power like the Taliban have in Afghanistan.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
Somaliland took an important step toward stable democracy with parliamentary and local council polls on 31 May. To keep moving in this direction, authorities and the opposition should build consensus on how to run future voting and how to make the government more inclusive.
In mid-December, Sudanese troops moved into al-Fashaga, an agricultural area on the frontier with Ethiopia, expelling Ethiopian farmers and building fortifications. Fighting threatens to escalate. With assistance from outside mediators, the two countries should convene talks about restoring the shared land-use agreement that prevailed beforehand.
Both federal and resistance forces are digging in for a lengthy battle in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Conditions for civilians are dire, with famine a growing danger. Outside powers should urge Addis Ababa to let more aid into the war zone, while maintaining pressure for talks.
A rebellion in Equatoria, South Sudan’s southernmost region, is undermining the already troubled peace between the main belligerents in its civil war. Mediators should push for a wider compact that accommodates Equatorian grievances and includes the insurgent general in talks about the country’s political future.
The October 2020 accord between rebels and Sudan’s transitional government is a big step forward. But difficulties remain. External powers should help Khartoum broaden the deal to include holdouts, reform the security sector and keep promises to invest in the country’s long-neglected peripheries.
War has devastated Ethiopia’s northernmost region. Pending comprehensive national dialogue, Addis Ababa should ease Tigray’s immediate predicament, engaging elements of the authorities it unseated to govern the area and ensure that aid reaches the millions in need.
There is still no sign of a broader reset in South Sudanese politics [...] instead, the divisions just keep mounting.
Al Shabaab is fully embedded in Somali society, especially in areas under their control, where local populations have little choice but to engage the group.
The current violent blowback indicates that [President] Abiy and his allies cannot achieve peace and prosperity for all Ethiopians by imposing their vision and party on Ethiopia using the coercive power of the state.
[South Sudan] is just, unfortunately, in a much worse spot than it was 10 years ago. Whenever I talk with various diplomats from different countries [...] they all fear cutting humanitarian aid to South Sudan would just cause more misery. Both the South Sudanese and the outside world feel a bit stuck at the moment.
The fact that the U.S. and its allies have secured [a UNSC] meeting is itself a signal that Ethiopia has lost some credibility […] and it opens up the possibility that the Council will take further action down the road.
It's imperative that [the Sudanese government] communicate properly to the population...on this [IMF debt relief program] so people don't look up and just see the pain.
In this episode of the The Horn’s mini-series exploring jihadism along the Swahili coast, Alan Boswell and Rashid Abdi discuss the connections and competition among jihadist groups in the region and the future prospects for governments to counter their militant movements.
In this second episode of The Horn’s mini-series exploring jihadism along the Swahili coast, Alan Boswell talks to regional expert Samira Gaid about the evolution of Al-Shabaab and how Somalia can use external stabilisation support more effectively.
This special mini-series of Crisis Group’s The Horn explores jihadism along the Swahili coast. In this first episode, Alan Boswell talks to Ngala Chome about the history of militant ideologies in Eastern Africa and how states can better address their growing threat.
A rapidly escalating conflict has pushed Africa’s second most populous country to the edge. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert William Davison explains why the main protagonists urgently need to strike a deal to avert a downward spiral toward state collapse.