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

Federal govt met member states amid continued political tensions, while clan violence surged in several areas; conflict with Al-Shabaab remained largely quiet. 

Govt held consultations with most member states to discuss key issues. Federal govt and member state leaders 14-17 May gathered in capital Mogadishu for National Consultative Conference (NCC) to discuss contentious issues, including constitutional review process, operations against Al-Shabaab and status of Nov 2024 member state elections amid speculation they may be delayed; officials from Puntland did not attend following March suspension of recognition of Mogadishu-based central govt and pulling out of NCC process in Jan 2023. At NCC conclusion, govt reported participants had endorsed federal parliament’s approval of first four chapters of constitution. Independent constitutional review commission 18 May began discussion of five further chapters. Political figures who oppose govt’s constitutional changes remained vocal, including Puntland President Said Deni 18 May and former federal Presidents Sheikh Sharif and Farmajo next day criticising govt and NCC. 

Clan conflicts erupted in Southwest, Hirshabelle and Galmudug states. In Bay region in Southwest, state security forces and clan militia early May clashed several times in Berdale town, killing elder and militia member, after state govt sent troops to dismantle militia group; tensions remained high throughout month. Significant violence 13 May also erupted in Hirshabelle between Abgal sub-clans in Bur Shiiq and Biyo Adde villages in Middle Shabelle region, killing over 30. Clashes also reported in Galmudug in late April between Marehaan and Dir clans in Abudwaq district of Galgaduud region.

Govt offensive against Al-Shabaab remained at stalemate. Military conducted episodic airstrikes targeting militants in Galmudug and Hirshabelle states with support from international partners, but launched no major ground operations. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab conducted several small-scale bombings and assassinations, particularly in Mogadishu including 3 May shooting of senior police officer, but also did not carry out large-scale attack.

In other important developments. Amid rising concerns over resurgence of piracy off Somali coast, EU naval force 10 May arrested six suspected pirates attempting to hijack oil tanker in Gulf of Aden and 23 May rescued cargo ship being hijacked.

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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 ápr 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 szep 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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