Somalia recently emerged from a long and difficult election process that resulted in the sizeable election victory of President Mohammed Abdullahi "Farmajo". The rare moment of unity, however, has been offset by attacks in Mogadishu and rural areas carried out by al-Qaeda’s franchise Al-Shabaab. The risk of famine also looms large over the country, in part driven by drought and clan-based conflict. Crisis Group’s research and analysis help the Somali government strengthen the fragile administrations of federal member states and to address the underlying causes of conflicts between and within them. We also aim to advise the government as it works to mitigate the risk of insecurity attendant to the upcoming withdrawal of the African Union Mission (AMISOM), scheduled for October 2018.
Chronic conflict is preventing effective response to Somalia’s prolonged drought and humanitarian crisis. This special briefing, the third in a series of four examining the famine threats there and in Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria, urges Somalia to improve governance and promote countrywide clan reconciliation to end the war.
Al-Shabaab continued insurgency carrying out terrorist attacks in rural areas and urban centres. Militants 3 Sept raided Somali National Army (SNA) base in Gala Gulud village, near Kismayo in south, allegedly killing 26 soldiers; routed local security forces 16 Sept in El Wak village, Gedo region; overran SNA base in Beled Hawa town near Kenyan border 11 Sept, claiming they killed sixteen soldiers; attacked nearby police station same day; attacked and looted military base outside capital Mogadishu 29 Sept, killing at least eight soldiers. In centre, Al-Shabaab claimed 9 Sept suicide bombing that left six Hiraan regional administration officials dead in Beledweyne city. Unclaimed car bombing 28 Sept killed at least five in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyne district. In Bay region in centre, U.S. airstrike 6 Sept killed three Al-Shabaab fighters in operation also involving SNA and AU peacekeeping mission (AMISOM). In Puntland’s Al-Urur village, unclaimed twin bombing 1 Sep killed at least fifteen people, including eight soldiers and seven civilians. Amid Gulf diplomatic crisis two more federal states (South West state 18 Sept and Galmudug state 20 Sept) declared support for Saudi-led bloc, bringing total to three out of five federal states; federal govt next day reiterated its neutrality.
Somaliland’s clan-based democracy has consolidated a state-like authority, kept the peace and attracted donors. But the territory now needs to reform its political bodies, judicial institutions and international engagements to protect itself from continued fragility in neighbouring Somalia – which rejects Somaliland’s independence claims – and civil war in nearby Yemen.
Despite military gains against Somalia’s Islamist group Al-Shabaab, the insurgents’ defeat will remain elusive until the Somali government and its international partners address longstanding social – often clan-based – grievances through parallel local and national processes, as the basis for the revival of conventional governmental authority.
Puntland’s presidential election, scheduled for January, threatens to exacerbate clan tensions and polarise the population. To keep the regional state on the path of democratisation, deep investment from local, national and international actors will be crucial.
As a new Somali government is established, Turkey’s engagement in the war-ravaged country must be thoughtful and carefully coordinated so as not to lead to yet another failed international intervention.
If the international community can agree on but a few core policies, there is the best chance in years to foster peace in Somalia.
[Al-Shabab] won’t claim responsibility because of the massive civilian deaths, but this was definitely [their] operation.
You couldn’t find any place more strategic for the Arab powers than Somalia. That explains the intensity of these powers’ interest in Somalia.
There is clearly an IS threat in Puntland, and the [group of former Shabaab cleric Mumin] is escalating its activities and attacks, but Al-Shabaab remains a much bigger threat in Puntland than IS does.
Somalia and the international community have a good change to take advantage of [the London Conference on Somalia], but if pledges are not followed up that will create problems for Somalia.
The Ethiopian government backed a different candidate, so there was speculation that the new Somali president may actually be hostile to Ethiopia.
Somalia has always remained strategic to the geopolitics of the region and beyond and has been gaining importance with time as the conditions in the country improve.
The 11 May 2017 London Conference on Somalia will discuss boosting humanitarian aid and security reforms that will increase the army’s numbers to 18,000. But the government must tackle corruption and restart national reconciliation if it wants to build effectively on recent progress toward ending the 25-year conflict.
Somalia has a genuine opportunity to promote needed political and security reforms following the election of a new president and renewed international interest. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union to seize the momentum by achieving consensus with its international partners on realistic goals ahead of the upcoming London Conference on Somalia in May.
Despite suffering significant blows in Syria and Iraq, jihadist movements across the Middle East, North Africa and Lake Chad regions continue to pose significant challenges. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to prioritise conflict prevention at the heart of their counter-terrorism policy and continue investment in vulnerable states.
For the first time in three decades, four countries, driven by war, verge on famine. Over coming weeks, Crisis Group will publish special briefings on Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. Each conflict requires tailored response; all need increased aid and efforts to end the violence.
Africa is experiencing the highest number of humanitarian crises since the 1990s. As the new chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, takes office, International Crisis Group suggests how he can strengthen the organisation’s response to threats to continental peace and security.