Somalia recently emerged from a long and difficult election process that resulted in the sizeable election victory of President Mohammed Abdullahi "Farmajo". The rare moment of unity, however, has been offset by attacks in Mogadishu and rural areas carried out by al-Qaeda’s franchise Al-Shabaab. The risk of famine also looms large over the country, in part driven by drought and clan-based conflict. Crisis Group’s research and analysis help the Somali government strengthen the fragile administrations of federal member states and to address the underlying causes of conflicts between and within them. We also aim to advise the government as it works to mitigate the risk of insecurity attendant to the upcoming withdrawal of the African Union Mission (AMISOM), scheduled for October 2018.
The quarrel between Gulf monarchies has spilled into Somalia, with the fragile state now caught between the rival interests of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The competition has already aggravated intra-Somali disputes. All sides should take a step back before these tensions mount further.
Conflict between semi-autonomous Puntland region in north and neighbouring Somaliland over disputed territory flared, and could escalate further in June. Puntland forces 15 May launched offensive to retake Tukaraq in Sool region from Somaliland forces, which captured town in Jan; at least 45 people killed. Fighting resumed on outskirts of Tukaraq 24 May, dozens more reportedly killed, both sides blamed each other for restarting clashes. Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks in several regions ahead of and during Ramadan, which began mid-May. Kenyan military convoy triggered mine in Dhobley, near border with Kenya 7 May, at least seven soldiers killed; suicide bomber 8 May attacked market in Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle, killing fifteen civilians and one soldier; next day seven soldiers killed in Wanlaweyn when their vehicle detonated mine; suicide bomber 22 May attacked military convoy in Afgoye town, 30km north west of capital Mogadishu, killing unconfirmed number of soldiers. Joint U.S.-Somali operation in Ma’alinka village, 60km south of Mogadishu 10 May reportedly killed five civilians. U.S. said it carried out airstrike 24km south west of Mogadishu 23 May, which it claimed killed ten militants. Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman – reportedly ally of PM Kheyre – elected speaker of parliament’s lower house 1 May after Mohamed Osman Jawaari resigned early April.
In 2018, the African Union (AU) and its new Assembly Chairperson President Paul Kagame of Rwanda have the chance to push ahead with much-needed institutional reforms. But the AU must not lose focus on dire conflicts and defusing potential electoral violence.
The 14 October 2017 twin bombings in Mogadishu mark the deadliest attack in Somalia since 2007. As Somalis unite in their disgust at the most likely perpetrator Al-Shabaab, President Farmajo must immediately provide care for victims and use surging support for the government to redouble efforts aimed at overcoming the divisions in Somalia's society that make Al-Shabaab such a persistent threat.
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.
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.
Somalia has been caught in the middle of an effort [by some Gulf countries] to try to expand influence, commercial and military, along the coast.
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.
Somalia’s federal system has reistered progress. The picture overall is not hopeles. But, if [the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM)] pulls out in a hasty manner, all that will be lost.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints from Somalis saying ‘There’s a huge Western navy on our shores - why can’t those people come to help us?'
One of the problems is that there is growing discontent within the [Somalian] security services. That should have sent of a clear warning signal, and al-Shabaab took advantage of that situation.
This has always been the billion-dollar question. If you think about how much money goes to Somalia every year, will this generate the political will to do what needs to be done to stabilize [the country]?
A year after the Qatar crisis began, it’s having potentially dangerous reverberations in the Horn of Africa.
Originally published in The Atlantic
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.