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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

Improved Situation

Federal govt and member states agreed on new schedule for long-delayed elections; Al-Shabaab attacks continued despite fresh assaults by army, and govt took steps to mend ties with Kenya amid ongoing tensions. Following late May agreement to hold parliamentary elections within 60 days, federal govt and member states 29 June adjusted timelines and scheduled elections for upper house for 25 July and for lower house between 10 Aug-10 Sept; both houses then due to convene 10 Oct to elect president. PM Roble 19 June finalised composition of state and federal election committees tasked with overseeing parliamentary poll. Some opposition presidential candidates continued to insist on removal of all 67 members that opposition bloc of 15 presidential candidates had flagged as biased late May, after Roble 5 June only dismissed 34. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab continued to launch deadly attacks. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab suicide bombings killed at least two 5 June, and at least 15 army recruits 15 June. In Galmudug state (centre), Al-Shabaab 27 June launched car bomb attack on army base in Wisil town, reportedly leaving at least 17 soldiers and 13 civilians dead; 41 militants also killed. Army throughout June launched offensives against Al-Shabaab militants in centre and south, claiming to have killed hundreds by month’s end; notably, army reportedly killed 70 militants in Middle Shabelle region 3 June and another 50 in separate operations in Hiiran, Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle regions 11-13 June. In Bay region, army 9 June reportedly repelled Al-Shabaab attack on its positions in Deynunay village, killing 19 militants. In Lower Shabelle, blast at makeshift Al-Shabaab bomb factory 7 June reportedly killed over 60 militants in Alfoto village. Federal govt 4 June accused Kenyan forces of killing civilians in two “indiscriminate airstrikes” previous day in Gedo region, Jubaland state; govt same day said it would raise issue with AU Peace and Security Council and initiate procedures for establishing claims commission with AU. Kenya 10 June lifted ban on flights to and from Somalia it had imposed in May, said it hoped “goodwill measure” would lead to “full normalisation of bilateral relations”; Somalia 12 June offered to resume full diplomatic relations, which Kenya 14 June accepted.
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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

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.

Commentary / Africa

Stabilising Somalia for Elections and What Comes After

As tensions between the federal government and semi-autonomous federal member states escalate, Somalia's February elections are expected to be intensely contested. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2021, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to press for fair, transparent and inclusive elections, and to encourage whatever administration takes power after the vote to improve cooperation with federal member states.

Podcast / Africa

Somalia's Election Crisis

This week on The Horn, Crisis Group’s Somalia expert Omar Mahmood joins Alan Boswell to assess the likelihood of disorder once President Farmajo’s mandate ends on February 8 and the urgency of renewed consensus on an extended process for new elections.

Briefing / Africa

Blunting Al-Shabaab’s Impact on Somalia’s Elections

The Al-Shabaab insurgency is in attack mode as elections draw near in Somalia. To stop the militants from disrupting the vote, federal and regional authorities should bolster security measures around polling stations and prepare impartial means of resolving disputes that may arise over the outcome.

Event Recording / Africa

Somalia Elections 2020-2021: Lowering the Prospects of Turmoil

Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's briefing "Staving off Violence around Somalia’s Elections", in which we argue that Somalia’s stakeholders and its international partners should make the indirect election another step toward democratisation.

Our People

Zakaria Yusuf

Analyst, Somalia

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Somalia