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Somalia

Somalia stands at a critical juncture. The hopes raised in 2017 when President Mohammed Abdullahi “Farmajo” won the election – that he could unite the nation to confront its myriad challenges – have dimmed as infighting between the federal government and its member states increases. Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda franchise Al-Shabaab continues to carry out attacks in both cities and the countryside; external actors compete for influence; and both clan conflict and food insecurity persist. With federal elections approaching again in 2020 and 2021, Crisis Group aims to help the government tackle insecurity and improve governance, and the federal member states address subnational disputes. We also work to mitigate risks attending the pending drawdown of AMISOM, the African Union’s peacekeeping mission.

CrisisWatch Somalia

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Power struggle between President Farmajo and PM Roble escalated, putting at risk electoral progress; dispute could spark violence in capital Mogadishu. After weeks of mounting tensions between Farmajo and Roble, who has been in charge of election preparations since May, Roble 6 Sept suspended Fahad Yasin, head of National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and Farmajo’s close ally, and appointed replacement, citing NISA’s failure to investigate case of missing intelligence officer. Farmajo next day moved Fahad to post of national security adviser and designated Fahad’s confidant Yasin Abdullahi Farey as interim NISA head. Farey 8 Sept moved to take control of NISA headquarters in Mogadishu, immediately prompting face-off between rival NISA units; outnumbered pro-Farmajo forces eventually backed down. Roble later same day replaced security minister – who oversees NISA – signalling further jockeying for control of institution; 12 Sept suspended withdrawal of funds from govt accounts without PM’s consent. Farmajo 16 Sept suspended Roble’s executive powers, accusing him of violating constitution; Roble immediately rejected order. UN Security Council 18 Sept urged feuding leaders to settle dispute and give top priority to holding elections this year. Electoral cycle remained behind schedule with Upper House elections still ongoing by month’s end. Authorities 6 Sept delayed selection of Lower House representatives to Nov without specifying new date for presidential election, which had been scheduled for 10 Oct. Following progress in resolving dispute over Somaliland’s election process between Upper House Speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi and Deputy PM Mahdi Guled, delegates from Somaliland 29-30 Sept elected 11 senators to serve in next federal parliament. Deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab continued. In Mogadishu, suicide attack near Halane airport compound 14 Sept killed at least ten, and suicide car bomb near president’s residence 25 Sept killed at least another ten. Group demonstrated its capacity to undertake mortar attacks throughout country, with incidents recorded in Middle Shabelle, Gedo and Bari regions in Sept; also continued to impose blockade on urban centres in Bakool region, notably Huddur and Wajid, causing food shortages. Meanwhile, clashes 30 Sept broke out between Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a (ASWJ) militia and Galmudug state forces in Bohol area (Galgaduud region).
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

22 Jul 2021
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. VICE News

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Somalia
27 May 2021
Through these specific talks [in Somalia], Farmajo really didn’t play much of a role, but that doesn’t mean that he permanently is sitting out the campaign period. The Washington Post

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Somalia
27 Apr 2021
Any sort of miscalculation could happen [in Somalia]. It just takes one trigger-happy soldier to fire on the other side, and that's going to erupt those dynamics. AFP

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Somalia
8 Apr 2021
[Somalia’s election impasse] comes down to unresolved internal political tensions, but also a lack of preparation and political will. The Guardian

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Somalia
11 Mar 2019
[The U.S. war in Somalia appears to be] on autopilot [and] people need to pay attention. New York Times

Brittany Brown

Former Chief of Staff
4 Feb 2019
Somalia has become a chessboard in the power game between Qatar and Turkey on the one side and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies on the other. BBC

Rashid Abdi

Former Project Director, Horn of Africa

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Asia

How will the Taliban Victory Impact Other Conflicts Involving Jihadist Militants? (Online Event)

Could the seizure of Afghanistan by the Taliban just before the twentieth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks be a turning point for jihadist militancy worldwide? (Online Event, 28th September 2021)

Op-Ed / Africa

Could Somalia Be the Next Afghanistan?

A similar rapid collapse of state institutions awaits if Somali elites and Western governments don’t alter their approach.

Originally published in Foreign Policy

Statement / Africa

Somalia’s Politicians Play with Fire – Again

Rival security forces came close to blows in Mogadishu amid a clash between the president and prime minister. These tensions are blocking the path to elections. International actors should name spoilers and wield sanctions against those who keep pushing Somalia to the edge of conflict. 

Podcast / Africa

Eastern Africa’s Jihadis: Somalia

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.

The U.S. War on Terror in Somalia: How to End an Endless War

Online Event to discuss Vice News' recent documentary "Inside the U.S. War on Terror in Somalia", with input on the situation from Crisis Group's interim Vice President, Comfort Ero, and interim Chief of Policy, Steve Pomper.

Our People

Zakaria Yusuf

Analyst, Somalia

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Somalia
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