Somalia

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

Deteriorated Situation

Al-Shabaab killed over 20 in first major assault in capital Mogadishu since President Mohamud returned to power; emerging political dispute in South West and Jubaland states could provide early test for Mohamud to prevent discord with federal member states. Al-Shabaab militants 19 Aug launched complex attack on Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least 21 during 30-hour siege; Mohamud in following hours declared “all-out war” against group. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab’s late July incursion into Ethiopia brought about swift reaction to stymie movement. Ethiopian airstrikes 29 July-7 Aug targeted multiple locations in Somalia for first time in years, and Ethiopian troops early Aug reportedly deployed around Doolow town in Gedo region to prevent militants from crossing over into Ethiopia. Ethiopian military officials around 2 Aug also visited Beledweyne and Baidoa cities for security discussions with Somali actors. Govt forces operation targeting Al-Shabaab in Mataban and Mahas districts of Hiraan region also picked up in Aug, supported by U.S. airstrikes that killed at least 17 militants 9 and 14 Aug. Govt forces 15 Aug said they captured group’s stronghold outside Mahas town in Hiraan. On political front, PM Hamza Barre 2 Aug unveiled 75-member cabinet, with most members belonging to Mohamud’s Union for Peace and Development Party. In line with Mohamud’s determination to combat Al-Shabaab beyond military means, former top Al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow was appointed religion minister. Parliament 7 Aug approved cabinet as Al-Shabaab fired mortar shells near govt complex in Mogadishu. State-level term extensions likely to form early challenge for Mohamud’s govt. In South West state, President Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen, who argues state parliament extended his term by one year until Dec 2023 in order to align with its own elections, faced growing opposition; several prominent politicians in July formed new grouping, South West Salvation Council, to oppose term extension and demand elections in Dec 2022. Jubaland’s parliament 21 Aug also extended its administration by one year, pushing prospective elections back from Aug 2023 to Aug 2024. Mohamud 25-29 Aug travelled to Puntland state’s capital Garowe for discussions with Puntland leadership about its relations with federal govt.

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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

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Zakaria Yusuf

Zakaria Yusuf

Analyst, Somalia