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

Unchanged Situation

Federal govt’s clan-based offensive against Al-Shabaab faced setbacks amid resistance from militants; Mogadishu continued to prioritise cordial relations with member states.

Offensive against Al-Shabaab in central regions slowed down. In Galguduud region, govt forces 9 Nov captured Wabxo town, 11 Nov pulled out allowing Al-Shabaab to re-capture town; major Al-Shabaab assault 7 Nov temporarily displaced govt forces from Qayib town, while govt forces 25 Nov repelled Al-Shabaab assault on Qayib. In Middle Shabelle region, govt forces 3 Nov captured El Harereri town, 17 Nov took control of Cad Caddey village. Use of U.S. and Turkish drones reportedly supported govt forces’ advance in Middle Shabelle, while outbreak of clan conflict between two Abgaal sub-clans in Adale district from mid-Nov hampered efforts. In Hiraan region, govt forces focused on shoring up gains south of Beledweyne city and preventing Al-Shabaab infiltration from across western side of Shabelle river; military 11 Nov foiled large-scale Al-Shabaab assault on govt forces in Burdaar area. Al-Shabaab continued attacks in urban centres. Notably, militants 27-28 Nov laid siege to hotel near presidential palace in capital Mogadishu, killing at least eight people.

President Mohamud invested in good relations with members states and regional partners. Mohamud late Nov travelled to war’s front lines in Galmudug and Hirshabelle states in effort to reinvigorate offensive against Al-Shabaab. Earlier, federal govt and member state leaders 27-31 Oct met in Mogadishu for third time since Mohamud took office in May; leaders agreed to share funds that federal govt recently received from international actors, and all member states committed to participate in operations against Al-Shabaab. As part of Mogadishu’s efforts to find regional support to further develop security institutions and bolster current offensive, defence ministry 2 Nov and National Intelligence Service Agency 5 Nov signed agreements with Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts, respectively.

Humanitarian situation remained dreadful. Mohamud 15 Nov told MPs that record drought had devastated country’s economy and acknowledged looming famine in parts of country as UN agencies continued to warn that 6.7mn people face severe food insecurity. In report released 14 Nov, UN human rights office said Al-Shabaab is exacerbating impact of drought and risk of famine, including by destroying wells and other essential infrastructure.

Continue reading

In The News

4 Sep 2022
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. The Intrecept

Sarah Harrison

Senior Analyst, U.S. Program
17 May 2022
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. DW

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa
15 Apr 2022
The swearing-in of MPs [in Somalia] is certainly a major step whose significance goes beyond symbolism. Irish Times

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa
12 Jan 2022
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... The New York Times

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa
27 Dec 2021
When the political elite [in Somalia] are focused on each other, attention turns away from the battle against al-Shabab. The Washington Post

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa
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, Eastern Africa

Latest Updates

Our People

Zakaria Yusuf

Zakaria Yusuf

Analyst, Somalia

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.