Showing posts tagged as "Somalia"

Showing posts tagged Somalia

9 Sep
Somalia’s Shebab wounded but dangerous, unpredictable | Agence France-Presse
The US missiles that smashed into Somalia’s Islamist chief this week ended the life of the one of the world’s most wanted men, but not the danger of his Shebab insurgents, analysts warn.
Ahmed Abdi Godane, declared dead by the United States after an air strike earlier this week, was a ruthless kingpin of Al-Qaeda’s main African affiliate.
As he had purged potential rivals, there is no clear leader for the fighters, although the Shebab have survived before: Godane himself took power after the last Shebab chief was also slain in a US missile strike in 2008.
"Removing him will significantly weaken the Shebab, at least in the short term," said Cedric Barnes of the International Crisis Group.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP)
Photo: UN PHOTO/STUART PRICE/flickr

Somalia’s Shebab wounded but dangerous, unpredictable | Agence France-Presse

The US missiles that smashed into Somalia’s Islamist chief this week ended the life of the one of the world’s most wanted men, but not the danger of his Shebab insurgents, analysts warn.

Ahmed Abdi Godane, declared dead by the United States after an air strike earlier this week, was a ruthless kingpin of Al-Qaeda’s main African affiliate.

As he had purged potential rivals, there is no clear leader for the fighters, although the Shebab have survived before: Godane himself took power after the last Shebab chief was also slain in a US missile strike in 2008.

"Removing him will significantly weaken the Shebab, at least in the short term," said Cedric Barnes of the International Crisis Group.

FULL ARTICLE (AFP)

Photo: UN PHOTO/STUART PRICE/flickr

5 Sep
Back to the future: the challenges facing Somalia’s returning diaspora | Samira Shackle
“Whenever you move around, you worry about what will happen to you,” says Abdullahi Nur Osman, who recently moved back to his home country, Somalia. “The security situation is a big worry.”
For the past 20 years, Somalia has been a byword for chaos. In 1991, after the central government fell, the entire economy and political system collapsed. Anarchy and civil war ensued. For years, the capital Mogadishu – once a vibrant seaside resort – has been home to bombed-out facades of buildings. Houses and shopfronts, though painted in bright colours, are pocked with bullet holes.
However, if Somalia’s government is to be believed, the country long known as the world’s most failed state is making tentative steps towards recovery. A permanent federal government has been in power since autumn 2012, and the country is gearing up for democratic elections in 2016. Al Shabab, the hardline Islamist rebel group, no longer controls Mogadishu, although terrorist attacks are frequent. Government buildings are the main focus – recent incidents included an attack on the intelligence headquarters and a major prison, and the president’s residence is often targeted. Foreigners and wealthy citizens face the risk of kidnap by terrorists or armed groups.
FULL ARTICLE (The National - UAE)
Photo: Charles Roffey/flickr

Back to the future: the challenges facing Somalia’s returning diaspora | Samira Shackle

“Whenever you move around, you worry about what will happen to you,” says Abdullahi Nur Osman, who recently moved back to his home country, Somalia. “The security situation is a big worry.”

For the past 20 years, Somalia has been a byword for chaos. In 1991, after the central government fell, the entire economy and political system collapsed. Anarchy and civil war ensued. For years, the capital Mogadishu – once a vibrant seaside resort – has been home to bombed-out facades of buildings. Houses and shopfronts, though painted in bright colours, are pocked with bullet holes.

However, if Somalia’s government is to be believed, the country long known as the world’s most failed state is making tentative steps towards recovery. A permanent federal government has been in power since autumn 2012, and the country is gearing up for democratic elections in 2016. Al Shabab, the hardline Islamist rebel group, no longer controls Mogadishu, although terrorist attacks are frequent. Government buildings are the main focus – recent incidents included an attack on the intelligence headquarters and a major prison, and the president’s residence is often targeted. Foreigners and wealthy citizens face the risk of kidnap by terrorists or armed groups.

FULL ARTICLE (The National - UAE)

Photo: Charles Roffey/flickr

4 Sep
U.S. cracks down on Somalia militants with strike on Shabab leader | W.J. HENNIGAN
A U.S. airstrike intended to kill the leader of Somalia’s Al Qaeda-affiliated Shabab group illustrated the Pentagon’s determination to take down militants responsible for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks throughout the Horn of Africa.
The Pentagon on Tuesday did not confirm whether the operation — which took place late Monday — killed Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, 37. But the special-forces strike against a militant encampment in the town of Barawe, south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was seen by U.S. officials as a setback for the Islamic militant group, which has struggled in recent years with leadership disputes, military defeats and questions about its direction.
"We are assessing the results right now," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. "We certainly believe that we hit what we were aiming at."
FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)
Photo: DoD Photo by Glenn Fawcett/flickr

U.S. cracks down on Somalia militants with strike on Shabab leader | W.J. HENNIGAN

A U.S. airstrike intended to kill the leader of Somalia’s Al Qaeda-affiliated Shabab group illustrated the Pentagon’s determination to take down militants responsible for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks throughout the Horn of Africa.

The Pentagon on Tuesday did not confirm whether the operation — which took place late Monday — killed Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, 37. But the special-forces strike against a militant encampment in the town of Barawe, south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was seen by U.S. officials as a setback for the Islamic militant group, which has struggled in recent years with leadership disputes, military defeats and questions about its direction.

"We are assessing the results right now," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. "We certainly believe that we hit what we were aiming at."

FULL ARTICLE (LA Times)

Photo: DoD Photo by Glenn Fawcett/flickr

26 Jun
Somalia: Al-Shabaab – It Will Be a Long War
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.
Read our latest briefing on Somalia here.

Somalia: Al-Shabaab – It Will Be a Long War

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.

Read our latest briefing on Somalia here.

1 May
LINK

Crisis Watch No. 129

Check out this month’s issue of Crisis Watch as an interactive map. Conflict situations deteriorated in Ukraine, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Somalia while conditions improved in Lebanon. A Conflict Risk Alert was issued for Ukraine.

CrisisWatch N°129  |  01 May 2014
The crisis in Ukraine deepened as pro-Russian separatists seized control of over a dozen towns and cities in the east. Several people were killed in clashes with Ukrainian troops as Kyiv failed to reassert control, amid continuing allegations that Russian security forces are assisting separatists – claims that Russia denies. Police in several major regions refused to take orders from the central government. An agreement reached between the U.S., the EU, Russia, and Ukraine to de-escalate the crisis quickly broke down. At the month’s end acting President Olexander Turchynov announced that the government no longer controlled large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. There are increasing fears that violence will spread and that central control over key areas of the country will continue to shrink, further complicating prospects for elections scheduled for 25 May.
In South Sudan peace appears increasingly distant amid fears the conflict is taking on an increasingly ethnic dimension: both the government and SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) continued to accuse each other of violating the current ceasefire, and thus far attempts at talks have secured little progress. The killing of over 200 people during the SPLA-IO’s capture of Bentiu town drew international condemnation and allegations that civilians had been targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, and the UN rapidly threatened sanctions. Scores were also killed mid-month in an attack on an UNMISS base in Jonglei that was sheltering nearly 5,000 displaced civilians. (See our recent report and video series on the conflict.)
Al-Shabaab retaliatory attacks gathered momentum as the joint military operation led by AMISOM and Somalia’s army (SNA) progressed. Al-Shabaab also began to leverage its control over much of rural south-central Somalia to blockade government-controlled towns, a move which will only increase humanitarian needs and further challenge the government’s attempts to stabilise the country.
Violence escalated in northern Nigeria. Over 500 were killed in attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militants during the first half of April, and over 200 schoolgirls abducted in an attack in Borno state. Security concerns were further heightened when a bomb blast struck a bus station on the outskirts of the capital Abuja, killing over 70. (See our recent report on Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency.)
Security forces in Lebanon started implementing a security plan agreed by the country’s main political factions to stem worsening violence, including checkpoints and patrols, arrests, weapons seizures and raids on militiamen. Thus far the plan has been successful, however a security-based approach is unlikely to offer a sustainable solution while socio-economic grievances mount, sectarian divisions deepen, and political representation remains unaddressed. There are also concerns about the fragility of the political truce underpinning the plan, perceptions of an anti-Sunni bias, and reports that members of the political elite have helped protect favoured militia leaders. 
April 2014 TRENDS*
Deteriorated Situations
Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine
Improved Situations
Lebanon
Unchanged Situations
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China (internal), China/Japan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korean Peninsula, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, North Caucasus (Russia), Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe
May 2014 OUTLOOK 
Conflict Risk Alert
Ukraine
—-
READ THE FULL REPORT
*NOTE: CrisisWatch trends are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no “conflict risk alert” is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.

CrisisWatch N°129  |  01 May 2014

The crisis in Ukraine deepened as pro-Russian separatists seized control of over a dozen towns and cities in the east. Several people were killed in clashes with Ukrainian troops as Kyiv failed to reassert control, amid continuing allegations that Russian security forces are assisting separatists – claims that Russia denies. Police in several major regions refused to take orders from the central government. An agreement reached between the U.S., the EU, Russia, and Ukraine to de-escalate the crisis quickly broke down. At the month’s end acting President Olexander Turchynov announced that the government no longer controlled large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. There are increasing fears that violence will spread and that central control over key areas of the country will continue to shrink, further complicating prospects for elections scheduled for 25 May.

In South Sudan peace appears increasingly distant amid fears the conflict is taking on an increasingly ethnic dimension: both the government and SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) continued to accuse each other of violating the current ceasefire, and thus far attempts at talks have secured little progress. The killing of over 200 people during the SPLA-IO’s capture of Bentiu town drew international condemnation and allegations that civilians had been targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, and the UN rapidly threatened sanctions. Scores were also killed mid-month in an attack on an UNMISS base in Jonglei that was sheltering nearly 5,000 displaced civilians. (See our recent report and video series on the conflict.)

Al-Shabaab retaliatory attacks gathered momentum as the joint military operation led by AMISOM and Somalia’s army (SNA) progressed. Al-Shabaab also began to leverage its control over much of rural south-central Somalia to blockade government-controlled towns, a move which will only increase humanitarian needs and further challenge the government’s attempts to stabilise the country.

Violence escalated in northern Nigeria. Over 500 were killed in attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militants during the first half of April, and over 200 schoolgirls abducted in an attack in Borno state. Security concerns were further heightened when a bomb blast struck a bus station on the outskirts of the capital Abuja, killing over 70. (See our recent report on Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency.)

Security forces in Lebanon started implementing a security plan agreed by the country’s main political factions to stem worsening violence, including checkpoints and patrols, arrests, weapons seizures and raids on militiamen. Thus far the plan has been successful, however a security-based approach is unlikely to offer a sustainable solution while socio-economic grievances mount, sectarian divisions deepen, and political representation remains unaddressed. There are also concerns about the fragility of the political truce underpinning the plan, perceptions of an anti-Sunni bias, and reports that members of the political elite have helped protect favoured militia leaders. 

April 2014 TRENDS*

Deteriorated Situations

Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine

Improved Situations

Lebanon

Unchanged Situations

Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China (internal), China/Japan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korean Peninsula, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, North Caucasus (Russia), Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe

May 2014 OUTLOOK 

Conflict Risk Alert

Ukraine

—-

READ THE FULL REPORT

*NOTE: CrisisWatch trends are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no “conflict risk alert” is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.

16 Apr

The security sweep – at one point 6,000 police descended on Eastleigh and neighbouring Majengo and Pangani – and mass arrests are particularly poignant for Kenyans of Somali heritage, a significant minority population whose districts were for long years under a state of emergency.

—Cedric Barnes, “Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya”

The security sweep – at one point 6,000 police descended on Eastleigh and neighbouring Majengo and Pangani – and mass arrests are particularly poignant for Kenyans of Somali heritage, a significant minority population whose districts were for long years under a state of emergency.

—Cedric Barnes, “Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya

"In the space of little more than a week, Kenyan Somalis (almost 2 million people), along with half a million refugees and migrants, have found themselves to be in a targeted class."

—Cedric Barnes, “Losing Hearts and Minds in Kenya”, The African Peacebuilding Agenda

14 Feb
Puntland’s Boundary Issues: What Will Abdiweli Gas’s Call for Unity Really Mean? | Cedric Barnes and Zakaria YusufPuntland’s new president, Abdiweli Gas, was a prominent mourner in Mogadishu last week at the graveside of Abdirizak Haji Hussein, a former prime minister of Somalia (1964–67). It was Abdiweli’s first visit to the national capital since his election on 8 January, though he had previously served as a minister (2010-11) and prime minister (2011-2012) in the then Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The twitter account of the newly established Somalia Federal Government (SFG) presidency (@theVillaSomalia) hailed the late Abdirizak as a “lion and patriot of Somalia” and highlighted his contribution to “national unity”. The wording will not be lost on Abdiweli Gas. Not only is he of the same lineage and region as the late Abdirizak, but he also now leads the regional state authority that has done the most to promote federalism in Somalia –which, for many Somalis, has dug the grave for national unity.Abdiweli’s election – by 66 members of parliament selected by councils of clan elders – was peaceful, but he won by the narrowest of margins (33 to 32, with one invalid ballot) and inherits a politically divided and economically weak state. Moreover, as a diaspora politician, originally parachuted into the TFG in Mogadishu, Abdiweli has to prove his commitment to Puntland and beat back any impression that he wants merely to use the Puntland post as a platform to run for Somalia’s presidency. (He already made one failed bid in August 2012.)The new president’s initial pronouncements have been encouraging, focused on the immediate task of getting Puntland government to work – not least in terms of public financial management, a big concern for donors. He has also made public commitments to restart the democratisation process abandoned – probably with justification – at the eleventh hour by his predecessor, Abdirahman Farole, in July 2012. (See our Dec. 2013 report Puntland’s Punted Polls.)Further, he has made it clear that he wants to heal divisions within Puntland that have festered for many years. (See our 2009 report The Trouble with Puntland.) In his first speech to parliament on 4 February he said, “Puntland’s unity is paramount and sacred and can only come when all Puntland land comes back to the hands of the government” and called for a Puntland-wide reconciliation conference. Laudable aims indeed (and reflective of previous Crisis Group recommendations), but they should be viewed with some important caveats.Talk of unity implies the cohesion of the Harti-Darood clan-family, whose local distribution in north-east Somalia is also the basic territorial expression of the Puntland state. Bringing back “all of Puntland to the hands of the government” also means the Harti-Darood-inhabited provinces of Sool, Sanag and Ayn, which the self-declared republic of Somaliland also claims (see map). Since 2004, Somaliland and Puntland armed forces have periodically clashed over these districts; more recently, local militias – associated with the self-declared Khatumo state and based on one sub-clan of the Harti-Darood, the Dhulbahante – have put up resistance to the intrusion of both the Somaliland and Puntland forces.The Dhulbahante clan and Khatumo were critical issues in Puntland’s presidential election; Abdiweli has subsequently appointed two ex-Khatumo leaders as ministers in his new government.It is certain that Somaliland’s own presidential and parliamentary election, scheduled for 2015, will embroil these same borderlands, both as an all-Somaliland issue and in the competition for clan votes. Concessions for oil exploration in these areas, granted by both Somaliland and Puntland governments (and whose authority to do so the SFG firmly rejects), will only increase the tension.Welcome though Abdiweli Gas’s peaceful election is, and as sound as his priorities are for his new, 47-member cabinet, his calls for Puntland’s “paramount and sacred” unity need closer attention. In common with all Somalia’s national politicians – including secessionist Somalilanders – he still needs to appeal to his wider clan constituency to gain political momentum. Abdiweli must realise that challenging Somaliland’s territorial claims is no panacea for Puntland’s internal clan divisions, just as Somaliland must acknowledge that it cannot rule its eastern borderlands with an army perceived as an occupying clan. Marginal though the Somaliland-Puntland dispute may seem, it is in precisely these disputed gaps in Somalia’s governance that wider progress can be lost to violence and an extremist group like Al-Shabaab can find its opening
crisisgroupblogs.org
PHOTO: Reuters/Abdiqani Hassan

Puntland’s Boundary Issues: What Will Abdiweli Gas’s Call for Unity Really Mean? | Cedric Barnes and Zakaria Yusuf

Puntland’s new president, Abdiweli Gas, was a prominent mourner in Mogadishu last week at the graveside of Abdirizak Haji Hussein, a former prime minister of Somalia (1964–67). It was Abdiweli’s first visit to the national capital since his election on 8 January, though he had previously served as a minister (2010-11) and prime minister (2011-2012) in the then Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The twitter account of the newly established Somalia Federal Government (SFG) presidency (@theVillaSomalia) hailed the late Abdirizak as a “lion and patriot of Somalia” and highlighted his contribution to “national unity”. The wording will not be lost on Abdiweli Gas. Not only is he of the same lineage and region as the late Abdirizak, but he also now leads the regional state authority that has done the most to promote federalism in Somalia –which, for many Somalis, has dug the grave for national unity.

Abdiweli’s election – by 66 members of parliament selected by councils of clan elders – was peaceful, but he won by the narrowest of margins (33 to 32, with one invalid ballot) and inherits a politically divided and economically weak state. Moreover, as a diaspora politician, originally parachuted into the TFG in Mogadishu, Abdiweli has to prove his commitment to Puntland and beat back any impression that he wants merely to use the Puntland post as a platform to run for Somalia’s presidency. (He already made one failed bid in August 2012.)

The new president’s initial pronouncements have been encouraging, focused on the immediate task of getting Puntland government to work – not least in terms of public financial management, a big concern for donors. He has also made public commitments to restart the democratisation process abandoned – probably with justification – at the eleventh hour by his predecessor, Abdirahman Farole, in July 2012. (See our Dec. 2013 report Puntland’s Punted Polls.)

Further, he has made it clear that he wants to heal divisions within Puntland that have festered for many years. (See our 2009 report The Trouble with Puntland.) In his first speech to parliament on 4 February he said, “Puntland’s unity is paramount and sacred and can only come when all Puntland land comes back to the hands of the government” and called for a Puntland-wide reconciliation conference. Laudable aims indeed (and reflective of previous Crisis Group recommendations), but they should be viewed with some important caveats.

Talk of unity implies the cohesion of the Harti-Darood clan-family, whose local distribution in north-east Somalia is also the basic territorial expression of the Puntland state. Bringing back “all of Puntland to the hands of the government” also means the Harti-Darood-inhabited provinces of Sool, Sanag and Ayn, which the self-declared republic of Somaliland also claims (see map). Since 2004, Somaliland and Puntland armed forces have periodically clashed over these districts; more recently, local militias – associated with the self-declared Khatumo state and based on one sub-clan of the Harti-Darood, the Dhulbahante – have put up resistance to the intrusion of both the Somaliland and Puntland forces.The Dhulbahante clan and Khatumo were critical issues in Puntland’s presidential election; Abdiweli has subsequently appointed two ex-Khatumo leaders as ministers in his new government.

It is certain that Somaliland’s own presidential and parliamentary election, scheduled for 2015, will embroil these same borderlands, both as an all-Somaliland issue and in the competition for clan votes. Concessions for oil exploration in these areas, granted by both Somaliland and Puntland governments (and whose authority to do so the SFG firmly rejects), will only increase the tension.

Welcome though Abdiweli Gas’s peaceful election is, and as sound as his priorities are for his new, 47-member cabinet, his calls for Puntland’s “paramount and sacred” unity need closer attention. In common with all Somalia’s national politicians – including secessionist Somalilanders – he still needs to appeal to his wider clan constituency to gain political momentum. Abdiweli must realise that challenging Somaliland’s territorial claims is no panacea for Puntland’s internal clan divisions, just as Somaliland must acknowledge that it cannot rule its eastern borderlands with an army perceived as an occupying clan. Marginal though the Somaliland-Puntland dispute may seem, it is in precisely these disputed gaps in Somalia’s governance that wider progress can be lost to violence and an extremist group like Al-Shabaab can find its opening

crisisgroupblogs.org

PHOTO: Reuters/Abdiqani Hassan

21 Nov
Despite Setbacks, al-Shabab Still a Potent Threat | Harun Maruf and Dan Joseph
A year ago, Somalia’s government and African Union troops were on the move against al-Shabab, taking over town after town.  The al-Qaida-linked militants were in clear retreat, and violent in-fighting among top leaders was shaking the group.
Since then, the tables have turned and al-Shabab appears resurgent with renewed attacks inside and outside Somalia, most notably the assault on an upscale Kenyan shopping mall in September that killed more than 60 civilians.
Analysts say the Islamist militant group should never be underestimated.
FULL ARTICLE (VOA News)
Photo: Albany Associates/Flickr

Despite Setbacks, al-Shabab Still a Potent Threat | Harun Maruf and Dan Joseph

A year ago, Somalia’s government and African Union troops were on the move against al-Shabab, taking over town after town.  The al-Qaida-linked militants were in clear retreat, and violent in-fighting among top leaders was shaking the group.

Since then, the tables have turned and al-Shabab appears resurgent with renewed attacks inside and outside Somalia, most notably the assault on an upscale Kenyan shopping mall in September that killed more than 60 civilians.

Analysts say the Islamist militant group should never be underestimated.

FULL ARTICLE (VOA News)

Photo: Albany Associates/Flickr