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.
U.S. President Joe Biden promised to end the “forever wars” launched after the 9/11 attacks. In Somalia, however, his administration has reinvigorated a flawed military-first approach to battling Islamist militants. Washington should complement those efforts with others aimed at stabilisation and political reconciliation.
Al-Shabaab continued to launch major attacks amid stalled govt offensive, political tensions turned deadly in Puntland state and spiked in Gedo and Hiraan regions, while AU began troops drawdown.
Al-Shabaab conducted series of major attacks. As govt’s anti-Al-Shabaab offensive remained stalled, militants 7 June launched assault on outpost of Ethiopian forces in Dolow town, Jubaland state (south); 9 June laid seven-hour siege to Pearl Beach hotel in capital Mogadishu, killing at least nine; twin bombs 21 June killed multiple trainees in army recruitment centre in Bardhere city, Jubaland; and 25 June fired mortars at Halane base housing AU and UN personnel in Mogadishu, causing no casualties.
Violence left at least two dozen dead in Puntland state. As opposition groups continued to accuse Puntland President Said Deni of seeking to extend his term, gunmen loyal to opposition 20 June tried to disrupt parliamentary debate on changes to electoral system in state capital Garowe; clashes with security forces left at least 26 people dead. Traditional elders next day helped negotiate pause in fighting.
Political tensions spiked in Hiraan and Gedo regions. Hirshabelle state President Ali Guudlaawe 17 June replaced Hiraan regional governor Ali Jeyte, prompting immediate protests from Jeyte’s supporters, notably among his Hawadle clan, in regional capital Beledweyne. Jeyte 18 June said Hiraan is “severing ties” with Hirshabelle administration, and around 24 June proclaimed himself president of “new” Hiraan state, rejected talks with federal govt, and banned all flights into and out of Hiraan. Meanwhile, in bid to replace Gedo regional officials close to former federal President Farmajo, Jubaland state President Ahmed Madobe 7 June named Abdullahi Abdi Jama as new Gedo governor. Local elites however opposed move, with officials in Garbaharey city 13 June denying permission for plane carrying Abdi Jama to land until 27 June.
African Union (AU) mission began drawdown of troops. AU mission (ATMIS), due to exit Somalia by December 2024, 30 June completed first stage of withdrawal with 2,000 of almost 20,000 total troops leaving and several bases transferred to Somali army.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"Sending in more U.S. troops and honing in on a small number of senior Al Shabab leadership is narrow in its aims and by definition cannot end the broader military fight ...
The CrisisWatch Digest Somalia offers a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's Somalia expert, about the Somali army’s latest offensive, together with clan militias, against Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency and challenges as the battle moves from central Somalia to Al-Shabaab’s southern strongholds.
In this video, Omar Mahmood discusses the Somali government’s recent gains in its war with the Islamist insurgency Al-Shabaab, mainly in central Somalia.
In conjunction with clan militias, the national army has dislodged the Islamist insurgency Al-Shabaab from swathes of central Somalia, marking a breakthrough in the fifteen-year war. As its campaign proceeds, Mogadishu should take steps to strengthen its hold on the territory it has retaken.
This week on The Horn, Alan speaks with Omar Mahmood, Crisis Group's senior analyst for Eastern Africa, about the government offensive backed by local clans that is making gains against Al-Shabaab in central Somalia, and what comes next.
Somaliland is going through considerable political turmoil. The government and opposition disagree over the sequencing of two forthcoming high-stakes elections, and both sides are digging in. International partners should push the two sides to reach consensus, while standing by to mediate if talks fail.
In this video, Crisis Group staff speak about the complex relationship between climate change and violent conflict in Somalia.
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