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.
In this video, Crisis Group staff speak about the complex relationship between climate change and violent conflict in Somalia.
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.
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.
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...
When the political elite [in Somalia] are focused on each other, attention turns away from the battle against al-Shabab.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week on The Horn, Alan is joined by Crisis Group expert Omar Mahmood to discuss avenues for achieving peace in Somalia, amid the growing consensus that Al-Shabaab will not be beaten by military means alone.
There’s no end in sight to the war with Al-Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia, which has been raging for more than fifteen years. This timeline explains how the group came into existence and how it evolved amid the country’s other troubles.
The war with Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency has dragged on for fifteen years. As it reviews its options, Somalia’s new government should look into what room there might be for dialogue with the group. The alternative is more fighting with no end in sight.
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