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 to attack civilian and military targets in capital Mogadishu and rural areas, especially in Lower Shabelle region in south east. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab claimed car bombings 8 and 24 May that killed at least thirteen people. In Lower Shabelle, Al-Shabaab ambushed Ethiopian troops in African Union mission (AMISOM) near Leego village 1 May, and attacked Qoryoley village 14 May wounding at least two Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers. Al-Shabaab 9 May seized control of Goof Gaduud town, Bay region, overrunning local SNA base and killing at least seven soldiers. U.S. soldier killed in operation against Al-Shabaab at Bari, Lower Shabelle 40km west of Mogadishu 4 May. Govt 8 May reported death of four Al-Shabaab militants, including Lower Shabelle regional leader Moalin Osman Abdi Badil, in SNA raid in Bariire village. Unclaimed blast at checkpoint in Lower Shabelle 8 May killed at least two SNA soldiers. Unidentified gunmen assassinated prominent elder in Mogadishu 11 May. Security forces 3 May killed minister Abas Abdullahi Sheikh near presidential palace in Mogadishu, allegedly mistaking him for insurgent. Islamic State (ISIS) claimed 23 May suicide bombing at police checkpoint in Bosaso that killed three people. Somali pirates hijacked Iranian fishing vessel off Hobyo in Puntland 23 May taking crew hostage. At 11 May London Somalia Conference, President Farmajo unsuccessfully called for lifting of arms embargo; EU and UK pledged new funds to avert famine and support security sector reform.
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.
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.
[Farmajo] should turn his attention firmly [to strengthening the army] and appeal to the West and Arab countries to give Somali troops proper training, equipment, salary.
The concern in Washington [about Al-Shabaab in Somalia] has been mounting for some time now ... U.S. special forces are already on the ground. Drone attacks have been scaled up.
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.