Long-overdue elections that returned President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to power in 2022 have raised hopes that Somalia can close a highly divisive chapter in its recent history. But the challenges it faces remain daunting. Relations between the federal government and member states are still uneasy, talks over Somaliland’s status have made little progress and vital state-building tasks, like finalising the provisional constitution, are lagging behind. Meanwhile, a historic drought is undermining local livelihoods while also foreshadowing the long-term challenges posed by climate change. Further, even as Mohamud has declared “total war” on the Islamist insurgency Al-Shabaab, which remains a defiant actor, a security transition premised on the withdrawal of African Union troops by the end of 2024 is fast approaching. Crisis Group’s work in Somalia aims to foster and maintain political unity, address the root causes of insecurity, including climate change’s impact, and consider means to wind down the long war with Al-Shabaab.

CrisisWatch Somalia

Unchanged Situation

Govt continued to face opposition over contentious constitutional review while tensions remained high with both Ethiopia and Puntland state; Al-Shabaab undertook several attacks. 

Constitutional review process remained controversial. Amendments passed in parliament last month that call for direct vote for presidency and grant additional powers to president’s office continued to face political opposition. Former President Sheikh Sharif 12 April met with President Mohamud in Kenyan capital Nairobi over issue, but failed to reach agreement. Sheikh Sharif and other opposition members 16 April met in Nairobi in attempt to form coalition against govt. Process likely to keep political tensions high in coming months.

Frictions with Ethiopia intersected with domestic tensions. After 3 April meeting between Ethiopian and Puntland state officials in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa – and in wake of Jan Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal and March Puntland announcement that it has withdrawn from federation – Somalia’s Foreign Ministry 4 April ordered Ethiopian Ambassador to leave federal capital Mogadishu and demanded Ethiopian consulates in Puntland capital Garowe and Somaliland capital Hargeisa close within week; Ethiopia, however, reacted mutely and consulates remained operational. Meanwhile, Mohamud discussed Ethiopia-Somaliland deal during 2-8 April trip to Saudi Arabia and 11-13 April visit to Kenya, with latter reportedly proposing regional maritime treaty to defuse dispute; govt 19 April, however, ruled out dialogue with Ethiopia until latter “revokes” Somaliland agreement.   

Amid stalled govt operations, Al-Shabaab carried out several attacks. Militants 6 April used vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in attack on Baclad town (Middle Shabelle region) and 11 April attacked Bar Sanguni military base (Lower Juba region) for second time in space of four weeks, with reports of up to 30 soldiers and 27 militants killed. Meanwhile, although govt 13 April asserted it would resume anti-Al-Shabaab campaign, no significant action taken or progress made.

In other important developments. Pirates 14 April released MV Abdullah, cargo ship seized in March, and 23-member crew after reportedly receiving $5mn ransom; first major pay-out to Somali pirates in years raised concerns over resurgence in attacks on vessels in Indian Ocean.

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In The News

25 Aug 2023
If military pressure is designed to push toward the complete elimination of Shabaab, then I think we'll miss opportunities to resolve this conflict. Reuters

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa
5 Apr 2023
Al-Shabaab continues to mount resistance in parts of central Somalia and fighting al-Shabaab in its southern strongholds will probably be a tougher slog. Financial Times

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa
1 Nov 2022
Things [in Somalia] are likely to get worse before they get better as both the government and al Shabaab are locked into war mode right now. Irish Times

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Eastern Africa
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
5 Aug 2022
I think the reason why [Mukhtar Robow, ex-Al-Shabab leader] was brought from house arrest to the cabinet minister is to create a counter-narrative to that of al-Shabab. Al Jazeera
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Zakaria Yusuf

Analyst, Somalia

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Zakaria Yusuf

Zakaria Yusuf

Analyst, Somalia

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