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 attacks against military and govt officials in capital Mogadishu and rural areas. In Mogadishu, suicide bombing 9 April killed at least seventeen people but failed to kill new army chief Gen Mohamed Jimale; suicide bombing 10 April killed at least nine soldiers at army academy; suspected Al-Shabaab 7 April fired mortars on homes killing three and near International Airport 16 April killing at least two, security forces same day reportedly killed two perpetrators. In Mogadishu, unclaimed car bomb 5 April killed at least seven. Elsewhere, Al-Shabaab 3 April took control of El Bur town, Galmudug region, following retreat of African Union mission (AMISOM) troops. Al-Shabaab 4 April kidnapped four World Health Organisation aid workers in Gedo region in south. Alleged Al-Shabaab landmine 6 April killed at least nineteen minibus passengers near Golweyn village, Lower Shabelle region. Al-Shabaab claimed 16 April attack on World Food Programme convoy and suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked Emirates Red Crescent aid convoy 20 April, no casualties reported. Kenyan AMISOM troops 21 April destroyed Al-Shabaab camp in Badhadhe district, Lower Juba region, reportedly killing 52 militants. Roadside bomb 23 April hit army vehicle in Puntland, killing at least six soldiers. President Farmajo 6 April told army to prepare for new offensive against Al-Shabaab and offered 60-day amnesty to militants. Maritime hijacking continued. Pirates 3 April seized Indian cargo ship off Puntland coast, took crew ashore 11 April, said they would exchange crew for pirates detained in India; security forces 12 April rescued hostages near Hoboyo town. Pirates 8 April boarded cargo ship in Gulf of Aden, fled before Chinese navy boarded ship next day.
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.