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

Al-Shabaab conducted large-scale assault on central town while Jubaland forces took back area outside Kismayo city; clan violence persisted while tensions remained high with Ethiopia. 

Militants conducted attack in centre, security forces advanced in south. In most significant attack in Galmudug state (centre) since March, Al-Shabaab 8 June launched assault on govt forces in Ceel Dheere town; militants initially overran army positions and entered town but troops forced them back and regained some territory toward Ali Yabal village; authorities claimed to have killed 47 militants and reported loss of five soldiers. In Jubaland state (south), security forces began clearing road between Kismayo and Kulbiyow towns, 10 June seizing Buulo Xaaji town. As drawdown of AU mission (ATMIS) continued, AU Peace and Security Council 20 June endorsed post-ATMIS mission to focus on securing key urban centres and logistical nodes. Concerns remained high over Islamic State (ISIS)’s growing profile after U.S. in May conducted first anti-ISIS operations in country since Jan 2023 with airstrike in Bari region (Puntland state).

Clan violence erupted, notably in Galmudug. Clashes between Marehaan and Dir sub-clans 8 June erupted in Laandheere village, Abudwaq district, Galgaduud region, killing over 50. Other clashes reported in June between various clans in Galgaduud, Lower Shabelle and Mudug regions as govt’s previous reconciliation efforts appeared to have failed to resolve grievances or stem violence.

Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal continued to aggravate govt. Despite reported Turkish attempts to mediate between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani 12 June speaking to President Mohamud and Ethiopian PM Abiy in separate calls, little progress made towards rapprochement. Concerns grew over impact of tensions on security as govt officials late May-early June asserted Ethiopian forces would not be part of security picture post-ATMIS unless Addis Ababa retracts deal with Hargeisa; govt’s ambassador to UN 24 June accused Ethiopian troops of cross-border “incursion” into Hiraan region.

In other important developments. Puntland President Said Deni 15 June declared readiness for direct talks with federal govt over issues of contention. UN Security Council 6 June elected Somalia to non-permanent seat for two-year term starting Jan 2025.

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In The News

25 אוג' 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 אפר' 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 נוב' 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 ספט' 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 אוג' 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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