Somalia recently emerged from a long and difficult election process that resulted in the sizeable election victory of President Mohammed Abdullahi "Farmajo". The rare moment of unity, however, has been offset by attacks in Mogadishu and rural areas carried out by al-Qaeda’s franchise Al-Shabaab. The risk of famine also looms large over the country, in part driven by drought and clan-based conflict. Crisis Group’s research and analysis help the Somali government strengthen the fragile administrations of federal member states and to address the underlying causes of conflicts between and within them. We also aim to advise the government as it works to mitigate the risk of insecurity attendant to the upcoming withdrawal of the African Union Mission (AMISOM), scheduled for October 2018.
In 2018, the African Union (AU) and its new Assembly Chairperson President Paul Kagame of Rwanda have the chance to push ahead with much-needed institutional reforms. But the AU must not lose focus on dire conflicts and defusing potential electoral violence.
Al-Shabaab continued to clash with govt forces and troops from African Union mission (AMISOM) in Lower Shabelle region, kept up targeted killings in capital Mogadishu and intensified attacks in Puntland in north east. In Lower Shabelle, Al-Shabaab attacked and claimed to have temporarily captured from govt forces Afgoye town, about 30km from Mogadishu 10 Feb. Army and AMISOM recaptured from Al-Shabaab Awdheegle town, about 60km from Mogadishu 11 Feb, but withdrew next day. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab militants killed two army officers 14 Feb. Twin car bombings claimed by Al-Shabaab targeted presidential palace and hotel in Mogadishu 23 Feb, killing at least 38. Exchange of fire between AMISOM and Somali army troops at checkpoint in Mogadishu same day left three Somali soldiers dead; both forces blamed each other for incident. In Puntland, militants attacked police station in Bosaso 6 Feb, injuring four officers. At meeting of National Security Council 6 Feb, federal govt and regional states announced joint committee on integrating regional state forces into Somali National Army and agreed on roadmap for Federal Policing Model and temporary resource-sharing agreement. Federal govt 19 Feb appointed new heads of police and national intelligence, posts vacant since President Farmajo sacked predecessors following 28 Oct lorry bomb in Mogadishu. Reacting to VAT hikes announced by federal govt 18 Feb, businessmen launched boycott of Mogadishu’s port and called for strike in Bakara Market, country’s largest. U.S. said it conducted three airstrikes against Al-Shabaab: one near Jilib, Middle Juba region 19 Feb killing three militants, one near Jamaame, Lower Juba region 21 Feb killing four militants, and another near Jilib 26 Feb killing two militants.
The 14 October 2017 twin bombings in Mogadishu mark the deadliest attack in Somalia since 2007. As Somalis unite in their disgust at the most likely perpetrator Al-Shabaab, President Farmajo must immediately provide care for victims and use surging support for the government to redouble efforts aimed at overcoming the divisions in Somalia's society that make Al-Shabaab such a persistent threat.
Chronic conflict is preventing effective response to Somalia’s prolonged drought and humanitarian crisis. This special briefing, the third in a series of four examining the famine threats there and in Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria, urges Somalia to improve governance and promote countrywide clan reconciliation to end the war.
Somaliland’s clan-based democracy has consolidated a state-like authority, kept the peace and attracted donors. But the territory now needs to reform its political bodies, judicial institutions and international engagements to protect itself from continued fragility in neighbouring Somalia – which rejects Somaliland’s independence claims – and civil war in nearby Yemen.
Despite military gains against Somalia’s Islamist group Al-Shabaab, the insurgents’ defeat will remain elusive until the Somali government and its international partners address longstanding social – often clan-based – grievances through parallel local and national processes, as the basis for the revival of conventional governmental authority.
Puntland’s presidential election, scheduled for January, threatens to exacerbate clan tensions and polarise the population. To keep the regional state on the path of democratisation, deep investment from local, national and international actors will be crucial.
As a new Somali government is established, Turkey’s engagement in the war-ravaged country must be thoughtful and carefully coordinated so as not to lead to yet another failed international intervention.
Somalia’s federal system has reistered progress. The picture overall is not hopeles. But, if [the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM)] pulls out in a hasty manner, all that will be lost.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints from Somalis saying ‘There’s a huge Western navy on our shores - why can’t those people come to help us?'
One of the problems is that there is growing discontent within the [Somalian] security services. That should have sent of a clear warning signal, and al-Shabaab took advantage of that situation.
This has always been the billion-dollar question. If you think about how much money goes to Somalia every year, will this generate the political will to do what needs to be done to stabilize [the country]?
[Al-Shabaab] won’t claim responsibility because of the massive civilian deaths, but this was definitely [their] operation.
We cannot be complacent about what’s happening in Somalia. It’s a clear signal that al-Shabaab is not down and out; indeed it is escalating the war.
The 11 May 2017 London Conference on Somalia will discuss boosting humanitarian aid and security reforms that will increase the army’s numbers to 18,000. But the government must tackle corruption and restart national reconciliation if it wants to build effectively on recent progress toward ending the 25-year conflict.
Somalia has a genuine opportunity to promote needed political and security reforms following the election of a new president and renewed international interest. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union to seize the momentum by achieving consensus with its international partners on realistic goals ahead of the upcoming London Conference on Somalia in May.
Despite suffering significant blows in Syria and Iraq, jihadist movements across the Middle East, North Africa and Lake Chad regions continue to pose significant challenges. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to prioritise conflict prevention at the heart of their counter-terrorism policy and continue investment in vulnerable states.
For the first time in three decades, four countries, driven by war, verge on famine. Over coming weeks, Crisis Group will publish special briefings on Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. Each conflict requires tailored response; all need increased aid and efforts to end the violence.