Long-overdue elections that returned President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to power in 2022 have raised hopes that Somalia can close a highly divisive chapter in its recent history. But the challenges it faces remain daunting. Relations between the federal government and member states are still uneasy, talks over Somaliland’s status have made little progress and vital state-building tasks, like finalising the provisional constitution, are lagging behind. Meanwhile, a historic drought is undermining local livelihoods while also foreshadowing the long-term challenges posed by climate change. Further, even as Mohamud has declared “total war” on the Islamist insurgency Al-Shabaab, which remains a defiant actor, a security transition premised on the withdrawal of African Union troops by the end of 2024 is fast approaching. Crisis Group’s work in Somalia aims to foster and maintain political unity, address the root causes of insecurity, including climate change’s impact, and consider means to wind down the long war with Al-Shabaab.
In conjunction with clan militias, the national army has dislodged the Islamist insurgency Al-Shabaab from swathes of central Somalia, marking a breakthrough in the fifteen-year war. As its campaign proceeds, Mogadishu should take steps to strengthen its hold on the territory it has retaken.
Govt and clan militia offensive against Al-Shabaab faced resistance in central states but started in southern Jubaland state; political tensions subsided in South West state.
Anti-Al-Shabaab offensive made slow progress in Galmudug, Hirshabelle states. Govt offensive against Al-Shabaab slowed in Galmudug state with govt forces focusing on clearing rural areas, particularly between Xaradheere and Bacadweyne towns in Mudug region. Amid heavy fighting, govt 10-11 Feb took back Doonlaye and Shabellow towns, and 14 Feb took control of Qeycad town, while other fronts in Galmudug remained largely stagnant. In Hirshabelle state, govt forces began pushing westward across Shabelle river and 23 Feb captured Shaw village. Al-Shabaab continued to put up significant resistance in Hirshabelle state, notably targeting Macawisley clan militia and govt position near Afcad village in Hiraan region and Eji village in Middle Shabelle region around 15 Feb. Al-Shabaab 21 Feb also attacked house reportedly hosting recuperating Macawisley members in Mogadishu, killing at least ten people.
Military operations against Al-Shabaab kicked off in southern state of Jubaland. Govt forces launched offensive in Jubaland with aim of clearing main road from state capital Kismayo to Afmadow town; Qunbi village recaptured 12 Feb. Group attempted to stymie operations in Jubaland: militants 11 Feb attacked Afmadow town with vehicle-born improvised explosive devices; temporarily took control of Bar Sanguni village 16 Feb. During Somalia-Frontline States Summit in capital Mogadishu, leaders from Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti 1 Feb vowed to support Somalia’s war with Al-Shabaab, as expansion of operations to Jubaland and South West states would likely involve Kenyan and Ethiopian bilateral forces.
Political tensions subsided in South West state. Conference to reconcile political elites in Baidoa in South West state, led by House Speaker Adan Madobe, 3 Feb concluded. Parties agreed to compensation following late Dec clashes between govt and opposition forces, while opposition accepted South West President Lafta-Gareen’s one-year term extension, with state-level presidential election to be held in Jan 2024. President Mohamud attended closing ceremony, stressing need to resolve political tensions in order to maintain pressure on Al-Shabaab.
Things [in Somalia] are likely to get worse before they get better as both the government and al Shabaab are locked into war mode right now.
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.
I think the reason why [Mukhtar Robow, ex-Al-Shabab leader] was brought from house arrest to the cabinet minister is to create a counter-narrative to that of al-Shabab.
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...
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's Somalia expert, about the Somali army’s latest offensive, together with clan militias, against Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency and challenges as the battle moves from central Somalia to Al-Shabaab’s southern strongholds.
In this video, Omar Mahmood discusses the Somali government’s recent gains in its war with the Islamist insurgency Al-Shabaab, mainly in central Somalia.
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.
This week on The Horn, Alan speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's senior analyst for Eastern Africa, about the government offensive backed by local clans that is making gains against Al-Shabaab in central Somalia, and what comes next.
Somaliland is going through considerable political turmoil. The government and opposition disagree over the sequencing of two forthcoming high-stakes elections, and both sides are digging in. International partners should push the two sides to reach consensus, while standing by to mediate if talks fail.
In this video, Crisis Group staff speak about the complex relationship between climate change and violent conflict in Somalia.
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.
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