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.
Newly elected president took steps to mend ties with regional member states and appointed new PM; Al-Shabaab suffered major defeat in Galmudug state; risk of famine persisted. In effort to reset relations between federal govt and member states, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud late May-early June travelled to South West and Galmudug states, whose leaders had been aligned with former President Farmajo. First meeting of National Consultative Council, consisting of president and member state leaders, 11-12 June took place in capital Mogadishu; participants agreed on seven-point agenda for new administration, including finalising constitution, pursuing security reforms, deepening federalism and focusing on reconciliation. Mohamud 15 June appointed experienced politician and MP representing Jubaland state, Hamza Abdi Barre, as PM; parliament 25 June approved Barre’s appointment. Some Farmajo supporters appeared inclined to challenge Mohamud’s tenure. Notably, former intelligence chief Fahad Yasin mid-June released series of interviews taking aim at govt officials, including his replacement, whom he accused of plotting political assassinations. Meanwhile, suspected Al-Shabaab combatants overnight 8-9 June launched nine mortars on airport compound in Mogadishu, which hours later hosted Mohamud’s inauguration ceremony. Galmudug state said armed residents and local security forces 17 June repulsed Al-Shabaab raid on Bahdo town, killing up to 70 militants. Army mid-June started operations against Al-Shabaab in Mataban district of Hiraan region (Hirshabelle state) following militant group’s recent gains in area. U.S. 3 June conducted first drone strike under Mohamud’s presidency near Beer Xaani village in Lower Juba region (Jubaland state), reportedly killing five Al-Shabaab. In departure from previous public statements, senior Al-Shabaab member Mahad Karate told British TV broadcaster Channel 4 in video released 15 June that group could consider negotiations with govt when time is right. Mohamud in interview with The Economist published 2 June said he intends to launch big offensive to contain and push back Al-Shabaab, then engage in talks. UN agencies 6 June said over 200,000 Somalis at risk of starvation and 7.1mn or nearly half the population faced with acute levels of food insecurity as drought worsens and global food prices hover near record highs.
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.
The African Union Mission in Somalia’s UN mandate is nearing its end. Despite the mission’s mixed record, its withdrawal could allow Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents to take over the country. A mandate extension would allow Somalia, donors and partners to agree on a reconfiguration and funding.
The Al-Shabaab insurgency is in attack mode as elections draw near in Somalia. To stop the militants from disrupting the vote, federal and regional authorities should bolster security measures around polling stations and prepare impartial means of resolving disputes that may arise over the outcome.
Somalia’s elections are fast approaching but the proper arrangements for monitoring and dispute resolution are not in place. To give authorities time to make procedural reforms, and thus lower the odds of turmoil, politicians should seek consensus behind a delay of one to three months.
Firefights have broken out between federal Somali soldiers and troops from the Jubaland region. A heightened confrontation could embolden Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency. The African Union should press Ethiopia and Kenya, which back Mogadishu and Kismayo, respectively, to coax the two sides into negotiations.
The coronavirus pandemic could pose a huge challenge to Somalia. To manage the crisis, the federal government should reach out to and coordinate with political rivals. It should avoid a unilateral postponement of elections due in November, which could trigger a violent backlash.
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 behind.
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.
Through these specific talks [in Somalia], Farmajo really didn’t play much of a role, but that doesn’t mean that he permanently is sitting out the campaign period.
This week on The Horn, Alan is joined by former Somali minister Abdi Aynte – who served under newly elected president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s previous administration – to discuss what to expect from Somalia’s new government, at home and abroad.
It took sixteen months, but Somalia’s elections have finally concluded – and without major incident. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Omar Mahmood looks at the challenges confronting the new chief executive and suggests some ways of tackling them.
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to expert Omar Mahmood about the election of Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whether he can repair some of the division stoked by his predecessor and prospects for dialogue with Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents.
This week on The Horn, guest host Nicolas Delaunay is joined by Nazanine Moshiri, Crisis Group’s climate & security expert, to discuss the complex, often dangerous relationship between climate stresses and conflict in the Horn and on the continent more broadly.