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.
This week on The Horn, Alan is joined by Crisis Group expert Omar Mahmood to discuss avenues for achieving peace in Somalia, amid the growing consensus that Al-Shabaab will not be beaten by military means alone.
As famine looms in country’s south, centre-periphery tensions persisted over resource-sharing, and govt forces gained ground in large-scale offensive against Al-Shabaab in central regions.
Relations between Mogadishu and federal member states remained strained. After member state finance ministers late Aug threatened to stop cooperation with federal finance ministry amid disagreement over resource sharing, federal and state finance ministers 13 Sept met in capital Mogadishu, agreed on allocation of $94mn disbursement from World Bank. State humanitarian ministries 14 Sept complained they had not received funding that United Arab Emirates had allocated to Mogadishu three months ago; PM’s office pledged to address issue. State-level term extensions continued with Galmudug state parliament 13 Sept adding a year to terms of state president, govt and parliament.
Clan militias and govt forces made gains against Al-Shabaab in central regions. Federal govt 25 Sept said army and local clan militiamen had recaptured 40 settlements in Hiraan region and six in Galgaduud region in less than three weeks. Notably in Hiraan, national army reported 43 Al-Shabaab killed 16-17 Sept on outskirts of Bulobarde town; U.S. airstrike 18 Sept also killed 27 militants near Bulobarde. Govt forces and local clan militia around 20 Sept also recaptured strategic town of Booco in Hiraan. Further south, local militia 26 Sept reportedly captured four settlements on outskirts of South West state capital Baidoa (Bay region) with support of national forces. Al-Shabaab responded with punitive actions against communities from which militias hail. Notably, Al-Shabaab fighters overnight 2-3 Sept killed at least 19 people on Beledweyne-Mahas axis in Hiraan; suicide bombing 25 Sept targeted military facility in Wadajir district of Mogadishu, killing up to 15 people.
Hundreds of thousands could die from hunger before year’s end. U.S. Development Agency’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network 5 Sept said famine projected before Dec in southern Bay region. UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths same day warned “famine is at the door” as drought worsens and global food prices surge. UN children’s agency 13 Sept reported over 500,000 Somali children under five expected to risk death from famine this year, number unseen in any country this century.
Despite President Biden’s campaign promise to end the forever wars, Somalia remains one of the most active areas in the world for U.S. counterterrorism operations.
If we look back at Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud's previous tenure [in Somalia], he seemed more open to consultation and compromise than the recent administration.
The swearing-in of MPs [in Somalia] is certainly a major step whose significance goes beyond symbolism.
As long as the election cycle and current tensions [in Somalia] drag on, the attention of the political elite will be more inwardly focused, while other priorities lag be...
When the political elite [in Somalia] are focused on each other, attention turns away from the battle against al-Shabab.
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.
Crisis Group's Nazanine Moshiri visits a camp in Dollow, a town situated on Somalia’s border with Ethiopia, where thousands fleeing drought and conflict are now seeking shelter.
The CrisisWatch Digest Somalia offers a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments.
There’s no end in sight to the war with Al-Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia, which has been raging for more than fifteen years. This timeline explains how the group came into existence and how it evolved amid the country’s other troubles.
The war with Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency has dragged on for fifteen years. As it reviews its options, Somalia’s new government should look into what room there might be for dialogue with the group. The alternative is more fighting with no end in sight.
This week on The Horn, Alan is joined by former Somali minister Abdi Aynte – who served under newly elected president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s previous administration – to discuss what to expect from Somalia’s new government, at home and abroad.
It took sixteen months, but Somalia’s elections have finally concluded – and without major incident. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Omar Mahmood looks at the challenges confronting the new chief executive and suggests some ways of tackling them.
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to expert Omar Mahmood about the election of Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whether he can repair some of the division stoked by his predecessor and prospects for dialogue with Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents.