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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capital Addis Ababa – and in wake of Jan Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal and March Puntland announcement that it has withdrawn from federation – Somalia’s Foreign Ministry 4 April ordered Ethiopian Ambassador to leave federal capital Mogadishu and demanded Ethiopian consulates in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.



Political tensions rose as Puntland suspended recognition of Mogadishu-based central govt over contentious constitutional review; Al-Shabaab made territorial gains.

Puntland withdrew recognition of federal govt over constitutional review process. After parliament 30 March passed first four chapters of draft constitution, Puntland state govt 31 March revoked “recognition and confidence in” federal govt institutions; in sign of rising political temperature, Puntland cabinet said it would have power of “independent state” until dispute resolved and new federal system approved through referendum. Earlier, tensions mounted as President Mohamud promoted updated constitution despite lead opposition figures accusing him of seeking to boost his chances at 2026 election; notably, former federal Presidents Sheikh Sharif and Farmajo and current Puntland President Said Deni 22-23 March met in Puntland capital Garowe to discuss opposing proposed changes.

Al-Shabaab took over towns in centre, political dispute turned deadly in Hirshabelle. In Mudug region (centre), group 9-14 March gained control of Amara, Bacadweyne, Caad, Shabellow and Xinlabi towns with no fighting; military abandoned positions after clan militias withdrew from area amid dispute with federal govt, highlighting ongoing challenge of organising anti-militant operations. Militants 14-15 March also launched attack on hotel in downtown Mogadishu, leading to ten-hour siege with three soldiers and five insurgents reportedly killed. Meanwhile, clashes between Hirshabelle state govt forces and those calling for separate Hiraan state (one of two regions that make up Hirshabelle) 13 March killed at least six in Beledweyne city; violence came after Hirshabelle-appointed governor of Hiraan region tried to enter city.

Tensions with Ethiopia appeared to publicly ease. Although no major breakthrough reached, Mogadishu and Addis Ababa pursued dialogue to address tensions over Jan-announced Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal. After Kenyan President William Ruto late Feb separately hosted both President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his Ethiopian counterpart PM Abiy Ahmed, technical teams from Mogadishu and Addis Ababa early March travelled to Kenya’s capital Nairobi for shuttle discussions.

In other important developments. Govt 4 March officially joined East African Community (EAC) regional body. Increase in piracy incidents off Somali coast in Indian Ocean raised concerns of resurgence in attacks on vessels in region.



Al-Shabaab conducted significant attacks, authorities launched contentious constitutional review process, and Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal continued to fuel tensions.

Al-Shabaab militants continued to pose major threat amid high-profile attacks. In main theatre of govt’s offensive in southern Mudug region (centre), group launched attacks on several areas security forces recently retook, including 3 Feb in Shabellow village, with reported high casualties on both sides but no significant territorial shift. Militants also claimed 10 Feb killing of four Emirati and one Bahraini military trainer at General Gordon military camp in capital Mogadishu; attack was reportedly carried out by undercover insurgent who had claimed to have defected from group. Govt’s efforts against Al-Shabaab during month consisted mainly of sporadic air operations supported by foreign partners in southern regions of Lower Juba and Lower Shabelle, and central regions of Galgaduud and Hiraan. Meanwhile, AU mission (ATMIS) announced 2 Feb official completion of second phase of withdrawal. Govt 15 Feb signed agreement with U.S. to build five bases for 3,000-strong U.S.-trained Danab commando unit.

Domestic tensions emerged over constitutional review process. Parliament 12 Feb initiated constitutional review process, one of President Mohamud’s priorities, amid significant domestic opposition. Notably, Puntland state rejected proposals, and former presidents 13 Feb announced failure of mediation attempt between Mogadishu and Garowe. In speech to parliament, former President Sheikh Sharif 19 Feb also denounced constitutional review process.

Govt continued to push back against Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal. Mogadishu remained focussed on diplomatic efforts to pressure Addis Ababa to walk back its Jan agreement with Hargeisa that potentially paves way for Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland’s independence. Mohamud 16 Feb travelled to Ethiopian capital for AU summit, lobbying for support; Mohamud next day alleged Ethiopian security forces tried to bar him from attending closing session of AU summit, which Ethiopian govt denied, and again accused Ethiopia of trying to annex part of Somalia’s territory. Meanwhile, amid tensions with Somaliland over deal, airspace control became battleground between Mogadishu and Hargeisa (see Somaliland).

In another important development. Amid tensions with Ethiopia, govt 8 Feb signed deal with Ankara for Türkiye to help Somalia defend its territorial waters by providing support to Somali navy.



Mogadishu reacted furiously to Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal; absent de-escalation, diplomatic row could weaken anti-Al-Shabaab campaign and further undermine regional stability.

Diplomatic row erupted over Ethiopia’s sea access deal. Govt rejected Ethiopia-Somaliland agreement signed 1 Jan, which grants Ethiopia sea access for naval facility via Somaliland, and potentially paves way for Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland’s independence (see Somaliland); Mogadishu 2 Jan denounced “act of aggression” violating Somalia’s sovereignty and recalled ambassador to Ethiopia for consultations. Thousands 3 Jan protested against agreement in capital Mogadishu, and President Mohamud 6 Jan signed bill nullifying deal. Govt mobilised support among international partners, with AU, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, EU, U.S. and others reiterating support for Somalia’s sovereignty. Mohamud also engaged regionally, travelling to Eritrea 8 Jan and to Qatar 22 Jan. Mogadishu 18 Jan rejected engagement with Ethiopia, saying “there is no space for mediation” until Addis Ababa retracts agreement. 

Operations against Al-Shabaab militants continued at slow pace. In Mudug region of Galmudug state (centre), security forces and Al-Shabaab 6 Jan clashed in Jeeh-jeeh area, and militants 24 Jan temporarily overran pro-govt clan militia position in Caad district. Airstrikes targeting militants in central states of Galmudug and Hirshabelle, including in Galhareeri 25 Jan, Cali Heyle 27 Jan, and Buq Aqable same day, showed govt’s reliance on international air support. Meanwhile, militants continued attacks, albeit at lower level; in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab 11 Jan killed UN security guard in mortar attack targeting airport compound, and 16 Jan killed four people in suicide attack near Banadir regional administration. Suspected Al-Shabaab combatants 10 Jan also kidnapped several UN contractors after their helicopter crashed in Galmudug. Potential rupture in Somalia-Ethiopia relations would have significant consequences on security operations, given Somalia’s cooperation with Ethiopia against Al-Shabaab.

Puntland election cycle concluded peacefully with President Deni’s re-election. Puntland President Said Deni 8 Jan won second five-year term in indirect election; opposition largely accepted result despite alleging manipulation in selection of MPs who took part in vote; legislators representing Dhulbahante community participated in elections after SSC-Khatumo (self-declared administration for Dhulbahante in territory also claimed by Somaliland) vowed not to in Dec. Vote concluded peacefully, offering parties opportunity to move on from divisive episode.



Puntland made breakthrough to resolve electoral dispute, reducing prospect of conflict; govt took steps to resume operations against Al-Shabaab.

Puntland president announced return to clan-based voting system for parliament. Puntland President Said Deni 6 Dec abandoned plan to move from clan-based system to universal suffrage, saying parliamentary elections would be held 8 Jan with clan representatives selecting MPs, who in turn would choose state’s next president; decision significantly reduced prospect of conflict between state govt and opposition-aligned forces, but challenges remained. Puntland’s parliament 7 Dec announced plans to form committee in charge of electing state’s next president and voted to extend its own mandate for another year. Puntland’s constitutional court 10 Dec annulled one-year extension following request by govt. Deni 28 Dec announced re-election bid.

Military operations against Al-Shabaab set to resume as rainy season ended. Govt forces took positions in preparation for resumption of offensive as rainy season concluded mid Dec, and clashed with Al-Shabaab in some areas of Galmudug and Hirshabelle states (centre). Harardhere district of Mudug region saw most significant activity: govt claimed around 30 Al-Shabaab members killed 7 Dec in Baraag Gugurte, and 80 insurgents killed around 26 Dec near Caad town. In Hiraan region, govt-aligned clan militias 3 Dec clashed with Al-Shabaab militants trying to infiltrate area along Shabelle river, claimed 60 militants killed. Operations also continued in recently opened front in South West state. Notably, army 1-4 Dec cleared several villages on border between Bay and Bakool regions. Govt said U.S. airstrike 17 Dec killed senior Al-Shabaab leader Maalim Atman in group’s stronghold of Jilib (Middle Juba region, Jubaland state). Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab suicide bomber 3 Dec wounded five military recruits at Turkish-run training centre in capital Mogadishu.

In other important developments. AU mission (ATMIS) 17 Dec resumed drawdown including from president’s residence in Mogadishu. Meanwhile, Somalia continued to reach milestones on international stage, including UN Security Council 1 Dec lifting arms embargo imposed in 1992. President Mohamud and Somaliland President Bihi 28-29 Dec met in Djibouti, agreed to resume talks to resolve political tensions, after previous negotiations stalled in 2020.



Election-related tensions persisted in Puntland even as state president appointed dialogue committee, offensive against Al-Shabaab remained largely on pause, and UN delayed drawdown of AU mission.

Amid election stalemate in Puntland state, opportunity for de-escalation emerged. Opposition in Puntland continued to accuse President Said Deni of attempting to manipulate upcoming parliamentary and presidential election process to his advantage, by determining rules of game with little consultation as Puntland moves from clan-based selection to universal suffrage. Group of Puntland clan elders 1 Nov argued for return to clan-based selection to ensure timely vote on 8 Jan 2024; but govt said it would not change path. Opposition 14 Nov announced parallel clan-based vote for 8 Jan. In local incident partially related to dispute, govt and opposition forces 7 Nov clashed in state capital Garowe, killing one civilian; UN 21 Nov called for restraint, expressed concern over recent mobilisation of forces in city. Parliament 26 Nov called for more time to resolve issues between govt and opposition, did not endorse electoral commission’s proposal to postpone elections to 25 Feb 2024. Deni 27 Nov appointed election negotiation committee, providing some hope for dialogue to break deadlock.

Govt offensive against Al-Shabaab remained on hold. Large-scale military operations against Al-Shabaab militants remained on pause due to heavy rain and troop rotation, as govt forces used time to regroup. Several small clashes reported, however, including in South West state. Notably, army 1-5 Nov engaged Al-Shabaab during clearing operations around Xuddur town, Bakool region, and late Nov conducted further operations in Bakool and Bay regions. In Galmudug state, main focus of recent efforts, govt forces 7 Nov captured small village of Barag Mohamud Daaud. Govt-allied clan militias continued attempt to clear militants from both banks of Shabelle river in Hirshabelle state. Al-Shabaab attacks also occurred at low frequency. Notably, two suicide attacks 3 and 13 Nov caused minimal damage in capital Mogadishu.

AU mission (ATMIS) drawdown official delayed. UN Security Council 15 Nov approved extension of ATMIS mandate until 30 June 2024, including postponing second phase of mission’s drawdown until 31 Dec 2023.



Election-related tensions grew further in Puntland, raising prospect of armed confrontation in lead-up to polls set for early 2024; offensive against Al-Shabaab continued to produce mixed results.

Political dispute worsened in Puntland state. Puntland President Said Deni 10 Oct returned to Puntland after near two-month absence and reaffirmed commitment to hold direct parliamentary and presidential elections by Jan 2024. Opposition continued to accuse him of seeking to use transition to universal suffrage to extend term or set rules in his favour. Notably, representatives of Mideeye and Horseed political associations 10-11 Oct met near Puntland capital Garowe and called for return to clan-based system for Puntland’s elections, also agreeing to form joint front against Deni; absent dialogue between Puntland govt and opposition, alliance further raises prospect of violent confrontations ahead of polls as opposition parties have troops at their disposal. Electoral authorities 23 Oct reaffirmed commitment to hold direct presidential election, but pushed date back to 25 Feb 2024, further raising tensions.

President Mohamud returned from frontlines as insecurity persisted. Mohamud 7 Oct returned to capital Mogadishu after two months in Galmudug state capital Dhusamareb, where his attempts to revive govt’s offensive against Al-Shabaab yielded mixed results. Notably, several clan communities in southern Mudug region agreed to join fight against al-Shabaab, but similar discussions about forming clan alliance against Al-Shabaab in northern Galgaduud region have yet to bear fruit. Militants continued to put up stiff resistance in Galmudug: local sources reported Al-Shabaab attack on clan militia positions in Bar Ujeed area 14 Oct resulted in dozens of casualties. In Hirshabelle state, govt 12 Oct announced it had pushed militants back across Shabelle river with help from AU mission (ATMIS) after Al-Shabaab crossed it mid-Sept. Southwest state President Laftagareen 7 Oct also promised to initiate second phase of anti-Al-Shabaab operations, and federal officials including defence minister 28 Oct arrived in Diinsoor district (Bay region) to coordinate operations. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab car bomb attack 21 Oct killed at least six people at military facility on outskirts of Mogadishu.

In another important development. AU Peace and Security Council 5 Oct backed Somalia’s request to UN to pause ATMIS withdrawal for three months.



Offensive against Al-Shabaab in central regions saw both setbacks and progress, while regional tensions over elections persisted.

Fallout from Aug collapse of frontline hindered anti-militant efforts in centre. After army retreat in southern Galgaduud region of Galmudug state resulted in Al-Shabaab takeover of area, govt redoubled efforts to secure additional support from local clans with a view to reversing losses before rainy season begins in October. Offensive however progressed in other parts of Galgaduud, as govt forces 11 Sept recovered Labidulle, Ceel Garas and Ceel Lahaley villages, south west of state capital Dhusamareb, and 15 Sept withstood major Al-Shabaab attack on positions in Ceel Lahaley. Govt forces 15-17 Sept also recovered Xinlabi, Qod Qod, Qeycad, Bacadweyne, Shebellow and Camaara villages in southern Mudug region (also Galmudug), amid heavy fighting.

Al-Shabaab militants continued to pose major threat, particularly in south. In Lower Shabelle region (South West state), Al-Shabaab 10 Sept attacked army position in Awdheegle town, resulting in significant losses on both sides. Al-Shabaab 17 Sept also caused heavy casualties in attack on convoy of Ethiopian forces in Bakool region (also South West). Targeted attacks continued, including Al-Shabaab suicide bomber 15 Sept targeting Galmudug president Ahmed Kariye ‘Qoor Qoor’ in Las Gacamey village; Qoor Qoor escaped unharmed, but two soldiers killed. In Hirshabelle state’s Hiraan region, bomb attacks 23 Sept killed over 20 in Beledweyne city, and 28 Sept killed at least six in Buloburde city.

Political disputes remained latent in several regions. Puntland President Said Deni made no effort to engage opposition, who continued to accuse him of seeking to use transition to universal suffrage to extend term or set rules in his favour. In South West and Jubaland states, groups of local politicians remained at odds with state leaders over timing of future elections; South West politicians 24 Sept met in Mogadishu, announced they would travel to state capital Baidoa in Oct to push for elections.

In other important developments. In letter to UN Security Council, govt 19 Sept requested three-month pause in drawdown of AU mission (ATMIS) personnel; AU 27 Sept announced withdrawal would continue but troop contributing countries backed request in letter to Security Council.



Govt’s attempt to revitalise offensive against Al-Shabaab in central regions backfired, with military retreating after making initial gains in Galgaduud region.

Military offensive against Al-Shabaab suffered setback as troops retreated. President Mohamud 5 Aug travelled to Galmudug state capital, Dhusamareb, to reinvigorate stalled offensive against Al-Shabaab in central regions. Army and allied clan militias 14 Aug launched operations in Galgaduud and Mudug regions (both Galmudug state) and in following days made initial progress. Notably, army 16 Aug successfully cleared mines in several villages on border between Galgaduud and Hiraan regions, 21 Aug regained key Wabho town, next day captured Cowsweyne village and 24-25 Aug took over strategic Elbur town (all Galgaduud). Troops however lost ground after Al-Shabaab militants 26 Aug launched major attack involving suicide bombs in Cowsweyne, inflicting heavy losses on govt force. Govt forces in following days reportedly pulled back from villages and towns recently captured, including Budbud, Wabho, Galcad, El Dhere and Masagaway, and 29 Aug also left Elbur.

Al-Shabaab militants continued to pose major threat in several regions. In Lower Shabelle region (south), bomb aboard passenger bus 9 Aug killed six and wounded 12 on road between Marka to Qoriyoley districts. In Hiraan region (centre), Al-Shabaab suicide bomber 10 Aug targeted Jalalaqsi district governor, killing five including district officials but leaving governor unharmed. Militants 23 Aug launched suicide attack on security forces in Kadha area on Mogadishu’s outskirts, killing two soldiers. Meanwhile, authorities 4 Aug announced arrest of ten govt staff from various departments including intelligence agency for allegedly collaborating with Al-Shabaab, serving as reminder that group has infiltrated govt security structures.

Security situation remained tense but stable in Puntland state. After Puntland parliament in July passed constitutional amendments allowing for direct election of state president, Puntland President Said Deni 1 Aug pledged to hold presidential and parliamentary polls by 8 Jan 2024; opponents however continued to accuse him of seeking to use transition to direct universal suffrage to extend term or set rules of the game in his favour.



Al-Shabaab continued to launch significant attacks amid stalled govt offensive and drawdown of AU troops, while tensions persisted at regional level with unclear consequences on counter-insurgency drive.

Al-Shabaab conducted several deadly attacks. Al-Shabaab militants early July repeatedly crossed Shabelle river to launch incursions between Bulo Burte and Beledweyene cities in Hiraan region (Hirshabelle state, centre). In attempt to pressure South West state authorities to stop detaining those who travel to Al-Shabaab-held areas, group 11-21 July laid siege to Baidoa city (Bay region), causing food and fuel shortages. Al-Shabaab attacked bases handed over in June by African Union mission (ATMIS) troops to Somali forces. Notably, militants 13 July briefly captured Geriley base in Gedo region (Jubaland state, south), and 19 July targeted Arbacow base in Lower Shabelle region (South West state), but did not overrun it. Al-Shabaab 24 July killed at least 20 soldiers in suicide attack on military training centre in capital Mogadishu. Second phase of govt’s offensive in July remained on hold with small-scale operations mainly in Galmudug state’s Galgaduud region (centre) and Jubaland state’s Lower Juba region (south).

Govt sought greater acceptance of political reforms plan. In effort to obtain greater support for decisions agreed by federal govt and member states in May, notably shift to presidential system, President Mohamud 12-13 July held consultations with senior opposition politicians; participants did not reach full agreement on key issues including election harmonisation and timelines, and Somalia’s governance model.

Political tensions persisted in several regions. Standoff continued between Hirshabelle state President Ali Guudlaawe and Ali Jeyte, who proclaimed new Hiraan state after Guudlaawe in June sacked him as regional governor of Hiraan; Jeyte 22 July said he had fallen out with Guudlaawe over approach to Al-Shabaab. Following election-related violence in Puntland state in June, Puntland parliament 25 July passed constitutional amendments that some opposition leaders opposed, notably allowing for direct election of president and VP. In contrast, Gedo region showed signs of de-escalation. Jubaland state officials early July travelled to Gedo for talks with regional authorities, and Ahmed Buulle 26 July pledged to hand over office to governor appointed in June by Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe.

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