Somalia

Somalia by Alistair Galloway

The international community continued to collaborate on their efforts to provide aid to Somalia. The German foreign minister made a surprise visit to the capital, in which he pledged a further $76 million USD in aid to help with famine relief. The London Somalia Conference, hosted by the United Kingdom was extremely productive: the participants adopted the New Partnership for Somalia, a framework of mutual accountability aimed at achieving peace, stability, and security in the country. While Somalia and Turkey both asked that the arms embargo be reviewed, British Foreign Minister, Boris Johnson argued against it, claiming that weapons may fall into the wrong hands and further hinder progress. At the conference, Saudi Arabia pledged USD $10 million to combat Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group that has consistently been attempting to undermine the western-backed government. Last month, the Pentagon approved of intensifying air-strikes in Somalia, and Africom Commander met with the president of Somalia this month to discuss collaboration between US Special Forces and the Somali National Army Forces in the fight against terror. Uganda also pledged to double its troops posted under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), while a continent of four experienced Zambian police officers recently joined a team of Individual Police Officers under the Mission. In spite of heightened security response, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for various attacks around the country, including attacks on Ethiopian troops, on a government soldier at the capital, an attack in the Somali parliament, and the kidnapping of aid workers. Furthermore, the Islamic State recently claimed its first attack in Somalia in the town of Bosaso, where a suicide bomber killed at least five people. Internal tensions in the Galgaduud region left six dead, over territorial and resource disputes between two sub-clans in the area. The arrival of the rainy season has provided little relief, disease and malnutrition are still rampant in the country. The World Health Organisation reported at least 200 to 300 reported cases of cholera daily, as well as increasing numbers of measles in the pre-famine conditions. As such, the UNICEF, the WHO, and the Federal Government have collaborated to administer oral vaccinations to children of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who live in camps where such diseases are frequent. 

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

New American president, Donald Trump, recently approved a Pentagon request to increase the aggression of U.S. airstrikes in Southern Somalia in order to more effectively combat the threat posed by militant group, Al-Shabaab. The areas will now be considered areas of active hostilities and war zone targeting rules will apply for 6 months. The USA is also sending in dozens of regular troops to train Somali National Army soldiers. The Somali president has also declared the country a war zone and has replaced intelligence and military officials and offered a 60-day amnesty deadline to Al-Shabaab fighters. In response to this increased aggression, Al-Shabaab has vowed to employ a “doubled response” and escalate terrorist activities even further. The United Arab Emirates has also increased its presence in Somalia by signing a contract to build a new port, as well as a military base in the country. In a visit to Somalia, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister pledged 11,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the country. Turkish Airlines also carried in 65 tonnes of baby formula and medicine for malnourished infants suffering from the drought. The Somali Federal Parliament recently approved the newly elected cabinet, consisting of twenty-seven members. The United Nations representative in Somalia expressed the UN’s desire to work closely with the government, and AMISOM. The African Union hailed Ugandan involvement in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in a medal ceremony which marked the departure of its troops. Al-Shabaab has become increasingly active in Somalia: it kidnapped four World Health Organisation aid workers, and seized the town of El Bur after Ethiopian troops left. Furthermore, it also claimed responsibility of a suicide car bomb near the defence ministry. 13 people were killed in this attack. Kenyan AMISOM troops and Somali National Army troops have also made headway in the fight against Al-Shabaab. A prominent Al-Shabaab official was killed in Kuday, while the KDP claimed to have killed 52 fighters in an attack on a base in Lower Jubba. In recent weeks piracy has become more common once again. An Indian dhow carrying wheat and sugar was hijacked and taken to an undisclosed region. The ship has, since then, been recovered and the 8 abducted crew members have been rescued. Cholera has also been a concern in the country, with cases mounting to 18,000 in the last two years. Al-Shabaab has started an initiative to distribute food and water to regions under their control in order to win public support. Japan, and the EU have also provided millions of dollars in aid to fund reintegration programmes for displaced Somali refugees being repatriated from Kenya. 

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

The United States of America plans to pursue deeper military involvement in Somalia to fight the threat of Al- Shabaab in the region. The country plans to provide greater assistance to national forces, as well as launch more air strikes on the terrorist group’s camps. It has also sponsored military exercises for the Somali National Army to better equip it to deal with security threats, especially after troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) start withdrawing from next year. AMISOM troops have also taken measures to proliferate action against Al-Shabaab. A recent attack by AU troops and local forces killed 57 militants, while Kenyan military jets carried out overnight strikes on Al-Shabaab camps in the Gedo region of the country. However, Al-Shabaab still remains one of the greatest political threats in the country as it has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack near the presidential palace. The group does not support Western involvement in Somalia, and has warned of further attacks. At least 7 people have been killed in car bomb blasts near the president’s residence. The leaders of several African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia met with the Somali president to discuss refugee repatriation. The Dadaab camp in Kenya is the largest refugee camp in the region and is home to thousands of Somali refugees. Kenyatta, the president of Kenya stated that refugee camps cannot be a permanent home and stated that the country will remain firm on their decision to close the camp and return Somalis to Somalia. Somalia is also victim to internal political instability: the Galmudug state is looking to elect a new president for the state government after President Guled resigned, citing health reasons. The Puntland army has also protested against the Financial Minister, claiming that they have not been paid their salaries in over eight months. The president of Somalia has declared a national emergency in the face of worsening drought conditions. The World Health Organisation estimates that 6.2 million Somalis, over half of the country’s population are in need of urgent humanitarian aid. The famine has also caused an outbreak of cholera, with over 13,000 cases in this year alone. The government is looking to implement a vaccination campaign to prevent and treat the threat. Local and international agencies have written a joint letter to the United Nations imploring it to ask member states to assist Somalia through its economic and political difficulties. Although aid has been provided, far more is required to avoid a famine such as the one Somalia experienced in 2011. 

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs launched a plan worth $864 million in aid and humanitarian response to the citizens of Somalia. The aid is aimed at alleviating famine warning signals for approximately 3.9 million Somalis in the face of worsening drought conditions. Peter de Clercq, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia, called upon the international community to provide speedy responses in humanitarian aid. A delegation from the European Union visited Somalia to assess the conditions under which African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) troops operate. They were notified of a need for additional weaponry to continue fighting the Al Shabaab threat. The Burundian Chief of Defence Forces, in his visit to Mogadishu, paid tribute to the Burundian troops serving under the African Union Mission and acknowledged their role in bringing about political security in Somalia. The British Secretary of State for International Development also visited Somalia and re-affirmed the United Kingdom’s commitment to Somali peace and security, and promised an additional $12 million in humanitarian aid to tackle drought conditions. Al-Shabaab continues to pose a constant threat in Somalia. Recently the group attacked a Kenyan military base in Somalia, claiming to have killed more than 50 soldiers. This claim was, however, refuted by a Kenyan military spokesperson. Al-Shabaab also took responsibility for a suicide bombing carried out at a major African Union base in the capital, which killed at least three Somali officials and damaged the nearby Hotel Peace. After several delays, Somalia is set to carry out its presidential election in February. In January, Somalia elected its speakers for the Upper House and the House of the People. Economically, Somalia is currently facing a drought severe to be trending for famine in 2017. Extreme drought in the Shabelle region has dried up the river in certain parts and has made agricultural activity difficult to carry out. There has also been an increase in cholera outbreaks, which has been cause for concern for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health. Currently, several organisations are monitoring and treating cholera patients. The WHO plans to administer the cholera vaccine orally in the upcoming months to prevent further spread of the disease.

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

The United States (US) took responsibility for the deaths of Somali allied local militia, killed by US air strikes. The Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, consisting mainly of Somali refugees, is soon to be closed. The United Nations Peacebuilding Fund allocated $3 million to a repatriation project in order to integrate refugees back into Somali communities. The new federal government was sworn in; however, the presidential election has been delayed for a fourth time. After disagreements and conflict regarding the nullification of seats, the election is now set to take place in January 2017. Burundi threatened to withdraw approximately 5,000 soldiers from its peacekeeping forces in AMISOM after failing to receive payment from the European Union (EU). The African Union investigated two separate cases where civilians were killed by African Union troops. The African Union also condemned an attack on civilians in Mogadishu when a vehicle detonated near the entrance of the seaport. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for this attack, as well as the assassination of a senior official in Puntland. The deputy commander of the presidential commander was also killed, although no group has yet taken responsibility for this attack. With troops being withdrawn from the AMISOM mission, AMISOM plans for the Somalia Police Force to be fully operational and standing on its own by 2017. As of now, their troops lack resources and numbers. The newly elected federal government rejected the proposed budget for the new year as it failed to make allocations for the salaries of MPs and other officials. The government aimed to review any spending that is inconsistent with revenue generated. The Somali President appealed to the international community for a speedy response to the problems of drought and famine in Somalia. A National Drought Committee has been appointed to deal with the crisis. The Swedish government donated $2.2 million to drought response, which will be used towards food, water, and medical supplies.

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

The militant group Al-Shabaab is a major threat to security and political stability in Somalia. With upcoming elections within the next month, Al-Shabaab has increased its attacks across the country to incite political upheaval. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has implemented measures to normalise conditions in the country, but has asserted that Somalia is not yet ready to have a “one person, one vote” election yet. This year’s election will be one of indirect voting through the electoral colleges of the different regions. Mr Hubert Price was instated as the Head of the United Nations (UN) Support Office in Somalia. Ethiopian troops in Hiraan, Halgan and Bakool regions have withdrawn from the AMISOM mission, citing lack of finances as the reason. Kenya has announced the closure of Dadaab and has accelerated the repatriation of Somali refugees, resulting in unhygienic living conditions for displaced persons. The USA and the UK have maintained an active presence in the political restructuring of Somalia. A report by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea has identified problems of resource mismanagement, corruption and lack of cooperation by the Federal Government as some of the key issues in the state. Forecasted low-rainfall indicates low agricultural production rates for the second consecutive season.

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Somalia by Lewis McKinnon

After a prolonged period of consideration, the president's cabinet finally set an electoral date in August, where both the country's leader and his party will seek re-election for a second four-year term. Both domestic and external observers attach great significance to the format and outcome of upcoming elections, which will effectively demonstrate the extent of Somali democracy. An overwhelming number of the country's youth continued to suffer from malnutrition, and the absence of necessary infrastructure or supplies makes the alleviation of this problem an almost impossible task. The arrival of the Islamic State (IS), which conducted its first attack in the country at the end of the month, also does not help the Somalia’s security conditions, and the government is seeking new partners, such as Russia, to tackle the ever-increasing problem of terrorism. Mogadishu attempted to normalise its relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the hope of soon becoming eligible for continuous financial assistance. The World Bank gave Somalia a positive report on its progress in 2015, and this is likely to further bolster the country's chances of establishing closer ties with international financial institutions. 

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

Somalia cut ties with Tehran on the basis of Iran's interference in the country's internal matters. On the domestic front, the political situation took a downhill turn as regional leaders failed to agree on an electoral model, which complicates the prospects of smooth transition of power in the upcoming presidential elections. Meanwhile, Al-Shabab continued to undermine the country's internal stability by staging attacks on armed civilians, as well as attacking Kenyan troops on the country's largest military base in Somalia. With balance of military power not favouring official Somali forces, the government plans to expand its military cooperation with foreign countries to improve the capabilities of its army. Leaders of the breakaway region recently conveyed their increased hopes of international recognition, while commending the work of the republic's permanent United Nations representative's diplomatic performance. Such heightened hopes have turned the major figures even more suspicious of Somalia's strategies to destabilise the region and obstruct its pathway to recognised sovereignty. Inside the Somaliland, leaders are promoting new civil initiatives that support the development of independent republic, such as the expansion of region-wide debates about Somaliland's foreign policy and the introduction of biometric voter registration. However, politics of 'party security' still remain the key theme, especially demonstrated through the ruling elites' decision to back away from increasing import tax after wide-scale demonstrations threatened their chances in the upcoming elections.

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

National and regional leaders have finally agreed on the electoral format, which increases the prospects of smooth transition of power in a country that has already experienced extensive periods of civil division and strife. International community also appears to be giving an affirmative assessment to the ongoing developments - a sentiment that was most noticeable in the recent statement made by the United Nations (UN) official, which declared Somalia no longer a failed state and now a country with promising outlook. However, security situation is still fragile and Somali army is not yet fully equipped to deal with the militant Islamist group of al-Shabab. On this account, Italian army chief paid a visit to the country's top army officials and promised greater assistance in the build of Somali defense forces. According to the governor of Hiraan region, upgrade of the country's defense capabilities represents a key necessity without which no future progress can be safeguarded from the troubles of 'radicals' and 'zealots'.

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

With country preparing for elections in September 2016, authorities are engaged in extensive consultations to decide on the final electoral format. Meanwhile, Prime Minister has reacted to recent domestic criticism and has cut down on his over-sized cabinet. Foreign relations with neighboring Kenya might deteriorate in the near future, due to the Somali parliament's recent voting in favor of Kenyan troops withdrawal from the country. Militant group of Al-Shabab is engaged in a propaganda war with the Islamic State, which is trying to take over the hearts and minds of Somali extremists. Added to that, radical Somali group's logistical capacity may potentially decline due to the government's recent initiative to crack down on illegal charcoal exports, which represents one of the major sources of Al-Shabab's revenues. Economically, Somalia was advised by the World Bank to maintain existing peace, which has the potential to lead to substantial economic growth in the next few years. Even though elections are almost two years away, inter-party political intrigue and bold promises have started to occur. Justice and Welfare Party lost one of its strongest candidates, who voiced his opposition to the party's alleged subservience to the ruling KUMLIYE faction. Presidential and Vice Presidential hopefuls have promised the electorate to advance the country's international profile if elected, while also prioritizing economic development and the tackling of problems related to crime and climate change. Despite such promises, free journalism and freedom of expression remain limited due to the inclusive nature of the Penal Code, which human rights organizations and their supporters consider as inherently undemocratic and reflective of the leaders' true intentions.

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