Showing posts tagged as "somalia"

Showing posts tagged somalia

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

7 Nov
Zakaria Yusuf, our Somalia analyst, spoke to the BBC’s Somali service about the need to increase AMISOM troop levels in Somalia. Listen to the full interview (in Somali) here.
Zakaria argues that it is important to increase the AMISOM troop level and their resources, including their military capability, in order to stabilize Somalia.
Zakaria contends that the Westgate attack has necessitated the sudden need to increase AMISOM troop levels, although the matter was being deliberated even before Westgate.
Zakaria says that as much as it is necessary to increase AMISOM troop levels, it is equally important to equip and raise the status of the Somali National Army (SNA), as it can lead the process of stabilizing the country.
Lastly, Zakaria thinks that the solution is not in increasing AMISOM troops alone, but rather reconciliation and talks among Somalis.
INTERVIEW (soundcloud.com, in Somali)

Zakaria Yusuf, our Somalia analyst, spoke to the BBC’s Somali service about the need to increase AMISOM troop levels in Somalia. Listen to the full interview (in Somali) here.

Zakaria argues that it is important to increase the AMISOM troop level and their resources, including their military capability, in order to stabilize Somalia.

Zakaria contends that the Westgate attack has necessitated the sudden need to increase AMISOM troop levels, although the matter was being deliberated even before Westgate.

Zakaria says that as much as it is necessary to increase AMISOM troop levels, it is equally important to equip and raise the status of the Somali National Army (SNA), as it can lead the process of stabilizing the country.

Lastly, Zakaria thinks that the solution is not in increasing AMISOM troops alone, but rather reconciliation and talks among Somalis.

INTERVIEW (soundcloud.com, in Somali)

15 Oct
What next for Al-Shabaab? | Global Public Square
Do the two U.S. raids in Africa this month signal a shift from drone attacks?
It’s not possible to tell at this point. The two raids underscore one limitation of drones: they cannot be used in urban settings where the possibility of killing civilians is very high. This would not only violate international humanitarian law, but would be counter-productive, since it would turn the population against the United States and its allies and possibly radicalize others into joining jihadi groups like Al-Shabaab.
FULL ARTICLE (CNN)
Photo: expertinfanty/Flickr

What next for Al-Shabaab? | Global Public Square

Do the two U.S. raids in Africa this month signal a shift from drone attacks?

It’s not possible to tell at this point. The two raids underscore one limitation of drones: they cannot be used in urban settings where the possibility of killing civilians is very high. This would not only violate international humanitarian law, but would be counter-productive, since it would turn the population against the United States and its allies and possibly radicalize others into joining jihadi groups like Al-Shabaab.

FULL ARTICLE (CNN)

Photo: expertinfanty/Flickr

11 Oct

Security and Governance in Somalia: EJ Hogendoorn’s Testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 9 October 2013

EJ Hogendoorn, Crisis Group’s Deputy Africa Program Director, testified at Wednesday’s U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on security and governance in Somalia. The full text of EJ’s testimony is available here. The question and answer portion of the hearing begins at 7:33.

9 Oct
‘Imperfect Intelligence’ Said to Hinder U.S. Raid on Militant in Somalia | Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt
The reinforcements have already started arriving, armed extremists posted along the coastline and the rest of town, guarding against any more attacks on their stronghold, witnesses say. People suspected of spying for the enemy have been rounded up and arrested, residents say, adding to a sense that the worst is far from over.
Since American Special Forces were forced to retreat during a raid on a coastal Somali town on Saturday, the Shabab militant group has tried to use the clash as a morale jolt and propaganda tool, posting pictures of abandoned American equipment and boasting that its fighters beat back the same Navy SEALs featured in movies and video games — the same unit that got Osama bin Laden.
FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)
Photo: AU/UN IST/Flickr

‘Imperfect Intelligence’ Said to Hinder U.S. Raid on Militant in Somalia | Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt

The reinforcements have already started arriving, armed extremists posted along the coastline and the rest of town, guarding against any more attacks on their stronghold, witnesses say. People suspected of spying for the enemy have been rounded up and arrested, residents say, adding to a sense that the worst is far from over.

Since American Special Forces were forced to retreat during a raid on a coastal Somali town on Saturday, the Shabab militant group has tried to use the clash as a morale jolt and propaganda tool, posting pictures of abandoned American equipment and boasting that its fighters beat back the same Navy SEALs featured in movies and video games — the same unit that got Osama bin Laden.

FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)

Photo: AU/UN IST/Flickr

8 Oct

Much has already been written about the latest Al-Shabaab attack in Nairobi. It is however important to note that it had long been expected, and it was certainly not the first, only the most destructive, with consequently the most media attention. Since Kenyan troops went into Somalia, militia groups have launched some 50 attacks into northeastern Kenya, and a number of grenade attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi. Almost all seem to have been aimed at creating a backlash against Kenyan Somalis and Muslims, deepening sectarian divisions and driving those populations to provide more support to radical Islamist groups.

—EJ Hogendoorn, testifying today at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Somalia. Read EJ’s full comments here (PDF).
Photo: UN/Flickr

Much has already been written about the latest Al-Shabaab attack in Nairobi. It is however important to note that it had long been expected, and it was certainly not the first, only the most destructive, with consequently the most media attention. Since Kenyan troops went into Somalia, militia groups have launched some 50 attacks into northeastern Kenya, and a number of grenade attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi. Almost all seem to have been aimed at creating a backlash against Kenyan Somalis and Muslims, deepening sectarian divisions and driving those populations to provide more support to radical Islamist groups.

—EJ Hogendoorn, testifying today at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Somalia. Read EJ’s full comments here (PDF).

Photo: UN/Flickr


"Al-Shabaab is down but not out."

—EJ Hogendoorn at today’s Senate hearing on Somalia. Read EJ’s full testimony here (PDF).
Photo: UN/Flickr

"Al-Shabaab is down but not out."

—EJ Hogendoorn at today’s Senate hearing on Somalia. Read EJ’s full testimony here (PDF).

Photo: UN/Flickr