Latest News Regarding
Horn of Africa
Somaliland Says UAE Can Launch Attacks From New Base
Abdul Aziz Osman Source: VOA, Saturday May 27, 2017
A top official said Friday that forces from the United Arab Emirates could soon be flying fighter jets from a new base in the breakaway republic of Somaliland. Somaliland Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire said the UAE could use the base in the town of Berbera for any purpose, including “training, surveillance and military operations.” Berbera is about 250 kilometers south of Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition that includes UAE troops is fighting Houthi rebels. The base is still under construction, but UAE Navy ships have docked at Berbera’s deep-water port. Shire, interviewed by VOA’s Somali service in Washington, defended Somaliland’s naval and air base deal with the UAE, which the parliament approved in February.
“We don’t believe the use of the facility will add to the uncertainty and the conflict in the region, he said. “UAE has already a base in Assab, Eritrea, which is operational, and the use of the base in Berbera is not going to add anything new to the conflict.” Clarification sought The deal has generated controversy in Somalia, which considers Somaliland to be part of its territory. The Somali parliament has asked Somalia’s president to clarify the government’s stance on the deal. Dozens of lawmakers have voiced support for a motion opposing the UAE base. The Somaliland foreign minister said his government sees the deal as an “economic transaction.” “The agreement is [for] UAE to use Berbera airport and port as a military facility, and in exchange, the UAE will be building roads, a new airport, and funding health, education and water energy,” he said. Previously, Somaliland signed a multimillion-dollar, 30-year deal with DP World, a Dubai company, to upgrade and manage the Berbera port. Ethiopia gets access to the port under the deal. Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991, but no nation has so far recognized it as an independent state.
On Africa Day, UN chief says world must move from ‘managing crises to preventing them’
Source: UN News Center, 25 May 2017
25 May 2017 – ‘Africa Day’ 2017 comes at an important moment in the continent’s endeavours towards peace, inclusive economic growth and sustainable development United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, urging humanity to listen and learn with the people of Africa.
“All of humanity will benefit by listening, learning and working with the people of Africa. It starts with prevention. Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. We need to break the cycle of responding too late and too little,” said Mr. Guterres in his message commemorating Africa Day.
The UN chief pointed out that most of today’s conflicts are internal, triggered by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalization, disrespect for human rights and sectarian divides. Often, they are inflamed by violent extremism or provide the fuel for it.
But prevention goes far beyond focusing solely on conflict.
“The best means of prevention and the surest path to durable peace is inclusive and sustainable development. It is critical to continue building more effective and accountable institutions to address governance challenges, advance the rule of law and promote civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,” he stressed.
As the international community has entered the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice, Mr. Guterres highlighted that Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063.
“For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned,” he said.
We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people
Mr. Guterres referred to last month’s first-ever UN–African Union annual conference as “a unique opportunity to strengthen our partnership and establish a higher platform of cooperation,” saying: “Our work is based on four driving principles: mutual respect, solidarity, complementarity and interdependence.
Mr. Guterres said that the UN partnership with Africa is also rooted in a deep sense of gratitude.
“Africa provides the majority of United Nations peacekeepers around the world. African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees. Africa includes some of the world’s fastest-growing economies,” he elaborated.
Turning to youth, he noted “We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people. More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age. Making the most of this tremendous asset means more investment in education, training, decent work and engaging young people in shaping their future.”
The UN chief also stressed: “We must also do our utmost to empower women so they can play a full role in sustainable development and sustainable peace. I am pleased that the African Union has consistently placed a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
He also reaffirmed his commitment as a partner, friend and committed advocate for changing the narrative about this diverse and vital continent.
“Crises represent at best a partial view. But, from a higher platform of cooperation, we can see the whole picture – one that recognizes the enormous potential and remarkable success stories throughout the African continent,” concluded the Secretary-General.
Mattis on Somalia are
Source: VOA, Wednesday May 24, 2017
There is renewed hope for the peace process in Somalia, said U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis following a recent British-sponsored conference on Somalia in London.
Secretary Mattis told reporters that he had a productive meeting with Somali President Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed. The United States, he said, has a role to play in Somalia, and in helping that nation defeat al-Shabaab, a vicious terror group. The United Nations, the African Union and the European Union joined with Arab, African and European nations to discuss the way forward.
Mattis said Somalia has an economic and a governmental program to put it back on its feet, and that international support is crucial to the process.
“So, we were working on how the future looks and what nations could commit what to what and get the framework right,” Mattis said. “It includes on the security side both a continued maturation of their security forces in the defenses against al-Shabaab, but it also includes a reconciliation program designed to pull the fence-sitters and the middle-of-the-roaders away from al-Shabaab. It’s very well put together.”
The holistic approach to the situation in Somalia is the one that has a chance of succeeding, Mattis said.
“There is certainly an attitude of renewed hope based on the election of what appears to be a very good leader in terms of understanding the need for military security, but as well economic efforts, and certainly reconciliation is going to have to mark this way forward, as well,” he said.
Mattis praised the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, saying the African Union Mission in Somalia troops have done a good job in a difficult position.
“For years, AMISOM and the Somali soldiers have fought against a pretty tough enemy that has sworn allegiance. . .to al-Qaida,” Secretary Mattis said. “It’s an enemy that’s got to be fought and the people have to be defended.” The United States is committed to doing its part.
African Economic Outlook 2017
Source: The Africa Development Bank, Posted: 23 May 2017 10:40 AM PDT
This annual massive study reports that in 2016, Africa’s economic growth slowed to 2.2 percent from 3.4 percent in 2015 due to low commodity prices, weak global recovery and adverse weather conditions, which impacted agricultural production in some regions. Africa’s economic growth is expected to rebound to 3.4 percent in 2017 and 4.3 percent in 2018.
Although economic headwinds experienced in the last two years appear to have altered the “Africa rising narrative,” the African Development Bank believes the continent remains resilient, with non-resource dependent economies sustaining higher growth for a much longer period. With dynamic private sectors, entrepreneurial spirit and vast resources, Africa has the potential to grow even faster and more inclusively.
Fragile States Index: East Africa and the Horn
Source: Fund for Peace, Posted: 23 May 2017 09:18 AM PDT
Ethiopian Selected as Head of World Health Organization
Source: New York Times, Posted: 23 May 2017 04:41 PM PDT
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia has been elected as the new director general of the World Health Organization. The first African to head the agency, Dr. Tedros was previously minister of foreign affairs and minister of health in Ethiopia.
Eritrea Denies Targeting Ethiopia Dam as Egyptian Ties Deepenhare
Source: Blooberg, Monday May 22, 2017
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki denied his country’s deepening relations with Egypt signify plans to disrupt neighboring Ethiopia’s construction of Africa’s biggest hydropower dam.
“The claim by the Ethiopian regime that the relation between Eritrea and Egypt is targeting the millennium dam is unfounded,” the Ministry of Information said on its website, citing a May 21 interview with Isaias in the capital, Asmara.
Egypt’s government has claimed Ethiopia’s construction of the hydropower dam on the main tributary of the Nile River contravenes colonial-era treaties that grant it the right to the bulk of the river’s water. Ethiopian officials reject the accords as obsolete and unjust. The plant, being built at a cost of $6.4 billion, is scheduled for completion next year and will produce as much as 6,450 megawatts of power.
Isaias traveled to Cairo in November to meet Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, when the two discussed deepening relations, the Cairo-based Daily News Egypt newspaper reported.
Ethiopia’s government has said forces receiving support from Egypt and Eritrea are trying to destabilize the country. In October,
Communications Minister Getachew Reda said the banned Oromo Liberation Front received financing and training from Egypt. In March, Ethiopian security forces killed 13 members of a rebel group that the government said had crossed into the country from Eritrea.
Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of armed struggle. The two countries fought again in 1998-2000 over the disputed territory of Badme on their border in a conflict that left at least 50,000 people dead.
Surveillance and State Control in Ethiopia
Source: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Posted: 18 May 2017 04:55 PM PDT
The author argues that the closing of civic space in Ethiopia has the following key features:
–Harsh restrictions on foreign funding for civil society organizations working on a wide range of politically related issues.
–Violent repression of civic mobilization in the name of counterterrorism and anti-extremism.
–Efforts to bring all independent civil society groups–including development and humanitarian actors–in line with the government’s national development policy.
Egypt and Sudan’s Escalating Border Dispute
Source: Foreign Affairs, Posted: 16 May 2017 12:52 PM PDT
The author argues that Sudan’s position over the disputed Sudan-Egyptian border’s Halaib Triangle has improved because of Sudan’s improved relations with Saudi Arabia and the United States. The dispute dates back to 1899 and periodically appears as a problem in Egyptian-Sudanese relations.
Somalia Needs More Action, Less Lip Service
Source: The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Posted: 18 May 2017 04:56 AM PDT
Following the London Conference on Somalia, the authors argue that implementation of decisions also requires international cooperation and buy-in from all partners. They say that countries pursue independent security interests in Somalia, such as the United States’ focus on counterterrorism or Kenya’s desire for a buffer region along its border, and may not always put their own interests aside in the spirit of increased cooperation.
As Somalia combats insecurity, drought worsens ‘more rapidly than projected’ – UN officialare
Source: UN News Center, Thursday May 18, 2017
A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in Somalia. UN Photo/Manuel Elias
The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is worsening, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council, calling for more than $800 million in aid to offset the impact of a severe drought in a country that is already battling insecurity and poverty.
“The humanitarian crisis has deteriorated more rapidly than was originally projected,” the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, told the Council in New York.
He said that people are dying and need protection, particularly women and children, as drought conditions force them to migrate from rural areas to town, and as sexual violence increases in displacement camps.
“The scaled up response by humanitarian agencies has averted a famine in the country thus far, but the crisis is unlikely to abate any time soon. The needs for humanitarian assistance are increasing faster than the pace of response,” said Mr. Zenenga, who is also the deputy of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia or UNSOM.
At least $669 million has been received or pledged for the effort, leaving a gap of $831 million in the revised 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan.
More than six million people are affected, of whom only about three million have been reached with food rations.
In the longer-term, the country’s structural problems must be addressed and resilience built, so the country can withstand extreme climatic conditions, the senior UN official said.
Peacebuilding and State-building
Aside from the humanitarian needs, Somalia faces continued insecurity, predominantly from Al Shabaab.
In today’s address, Mr. Zenenga applauded the Security Council-mandated African Union troops, known as AMISOM, which have provided “the backbone of security in Somalia over the past 10 years.”
He called on donor countries to assist with “predictable funding,” ideally through assessed contributions, to support the troops.
The call echoes that of the Special Representative, Michael Keating, who took part last week in the London Conference on Somalia.
As a result of the Conference, the international community reached a security agreement and defined a so-called New Partnership for the country, which sets out a framework to meet the Government’s priority political, security and economic recovery plan. A follow-up meeting is planned for October.
These efforts build towards universal elections which are scheduled for 2020, what Mr. Zenenga called “a defining litmus test of the progress made towards a properly functioning State.”
This past February, the Parliament elected Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to be the new President since direct elections could not be held safely in the country. In 2020, Somalia aims to hold direct elections.
Ahead of that vote, building up the country’s security and police force, so that it can start taking over responsibility from AMISOM, is a top priority
South Sudan: UN, partners seek $1.4 billion for ‘world’s fastest growing refugee crisis’
Source: UN News Center, 15 May 2017
15 May 2017 – The United Nations refugees and food relief agencies today urged donors to step up support for people fleeing crisis-hit South Sudan as the $1.4 billion response plan remains 86 per cent unfunded.
“Bitter conflict and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in South Sudan are driving people from their homes in record numbers,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, in a news release jointly issued by his office (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The situation in South Sudan continues to worsen, with a combination of conflict, drought and famine leading to further displacement and a rapid exodus of people fleeing one of the world’s most severe crises.
South Sudan has now become the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis with more than 1.8 million refugees, including one million children, having sought safety in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, the news release said.
“The suffering of the South Sudanese people is just unimaginable,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “Aid workers often cannot reach the most vulnerable hungry people. Many are dying from hunger and disease, many more have fled their homeland for safety abroad.”
Humanitarian agencies are seeking $1.4 billion to provide life-saving aid to South Sudanese refugees in the six neighbouring countries until the end of 2017, according to an updated response plan presented in Geneva today. But the plan so far remains only 14 per cent funded.
The current rate of people fleeing South Sudan exceeds the humanitarian community’s already pessimistic estimates. For example, the number of people fleeing to Sudan in March surpassed the expected figure for the entire year. Uganda is also seeing higher than expected arrivals and at this rate is likely to soon host over one million South Sudanese refugees.
“Our funding situation forced us to cut food rations for many refugees in Uganda,” Mr. Beasley said.
With acute underfunding, humanitarian agencies are struggling to provide food, water, nutrition support, shelter and health services to refugees.
Communities hosting refugees are among the world’s poorest and are under immense pressure.
“Helping refugees is not just about providing emergency aid,” said UNHCR’s Grandi. “It also means supporting governments and communities in neighbouring countries to shore up services and economies in the areas receiving them.”
Somalia: Fighting Al-Shabab requires ‘carrot and stick’: U.N. officialare
Source: Newsweek, Tuesday May 16, 2017
By Conor Gaffey
A member of Somalia’s security forces patrols at the scene of a suicide car bomb, claimed by Al-Shabab, in Mogadishu, Somalia, on August 30, 2016. Al-Shabab has been waging war on Somalia’s federal government for a decade. MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP/Getty
Defeating Al-Shabab militants in Somalia requires a “carrot and stick” approach that could eventually include political negotiations with the Islamist militants, the U.N.’s top official in the country tells Newsweek.
Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, elected in February, has declared a state of war against the Al-Qaeda affiliate. The president offered a 60-day amnesty to disaffected members of the group in April and has pledged to eradicate it within two years.
Al-Shabab emerged from the Islamic Courts Union that was ousted from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, by Ethiopian forces in 2006. The militants have carried out major attacks in Somalia and neighboring countries, such as Kenya, and regularly carry out suicide bombings in the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing civilians, government officials and soldiers.
Michael Keating, the Special Representative of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Somalia, tells Newsweek that while the offer of an amnesty was a good start, it would not be sufficient to placate the militant group.
“I don’t think an amnesty on its own is going to work. It’s a signal more than a strategy, saying ‘We do not consider you all to be dyed in the wool ideological enemies,’” says Keating, speaking on the sidelines of a major international conference on Somalia in London Thursday.
“The amnesty is part of that carrot approach, but you also need the stick approach, particularly if they’re using violence to advance their political objectives.”
So far, Al-Shabab has shown no signs of letting up its attacks. The militants dismissed Farmajo’s declaration of war and offer of amnesty as an effort “just to please the West.” At the London conference, which was chaired by the U.K. and brought together representatives of over 40 partners to pledge support for Somalia, British Prime Minister Theresa May noted that Al-Shabab had tripled the number of attacks it carried out in Mogadishu, without giving a specific timeframe.
Experts believe that Al-Shabab consists of different elements, including moderates and vulnerable youths who have been radicalized by the group, as well as a hard core with transnational jihadi objectives. The group’s former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane— killed by a U.S. strike in 2014 —pledged allegiance on its behalf to Al-Qaeda.
Previous Somali governments have attempted to reach out to the militants. Former Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was in power from 2012 until Farmajo’s election victory in February, told Newsweek in April that lower-ranking militants had benefited from an amnesty programme ran by his administration, but that negotiations with high-level Al-Shabab fighters were not possible due to the fact that many are regarded as international terrorists by the United States and other bodies.
“At a certain point, there is typically a political negotiation with the hard core with the hope of, at a minimum, dismantling the integrity of the insurgency. But I don’t think we are anywhere near there yet,” says Keating.
The battle against Al-Shabab is currently being led by a 22,000-strong African Union force (AMISOM), which has succeeded in pushing back the militants from most of Somalia’s urban hubs since its deployment a decade ago. But Al-Shabab still maintains a presence, if not control, over many rural parts of southern Somalia, and regularly launches attacks on AMISOM bases.
AMISOM is due to begin withdrawing from Somalia in 2018; one of the key priorities of Farmajo’s administration is therefore to prepare the Somali security forces to take over AMISOM’s responsibilities as it draws down. The security pact agreed at the London conference laid out the structure of Somali’s armed forces—the Somali National Army is to number at least 18,000, with a further 32,000 police officers—and reiterated international support for security development.
Several countries, including the United States and United Kingdom, are training different components of the Somali security forces. The London conference recognized the need for a unified approach to the issue. “To defeat terrorist organizations, Somalia’s security forces need to train under a common doctrine; be better equipped, better housed, and better coordinated; and be regularly paid with clear status and responsibilities,” said the conference communique.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo (L), British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (C) and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (R) attend the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London, on May 11. President Farmajo has pledged to defeat Al-Shabab in two years. Hannah McKay/Reuters
Keating says that, as well as bolstering security, the Somali government must tackle the “deficits” that give Al-Shabab “oxygen.” “Those deficits include absence of rule of law, absence of basic services, soldiers and police not being paid and therefore being corrupt and delegitimizing the government,” he says.
He adds that alternatives must be offered to those who do renounce ties to Al-Shabab and take up amnesty. “That’s the issue, how do you make it attractive for people to permanently leave Al-Shabab, knowing that if you leave they are really unforgiving—you can’t go back, they will kill you—so leaving Al-Shabab is a big step,” he says.
The election of President Farmajo has been greeted with optimism by the international community. The electoral process, though hampered by allegations of widespread corruption, was “definitely more inclusive and more legitimate” than any process for the last few decades in Somalia, says Keating.
But as well as the near-perpetual insecurity caused by Al-Shabab, the nascent administration is also facing the looming threat of famine. A devastating drought has left more than half of the population in need of food and threatened to escalate into a full-blown famine. At the London conference, U.N. Secretary-General Guterres called for an additional $900 million in aid to the country by the end of the year. “Somalia now hangs in the balance between peril and potential,” said Guterres.
Keating says that while the political situation in Somalia is improving, the plight of much of the population remains dire. “Before one gets too romantic or starry-eyed about Somalia’s future, you’ve got to look at the reality now, which is actually worse today than a year ago for the majority of the population,” he says.
Monday May 15, 2017
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia on May 18, 1991. It had been part of Somalia for 31 years and after decades of suffering and massacre at the hands of the central government of Somalia, says the foreign minister, they decided they had enough and embarked on a struggle for independence
The Republic of Somaliland is not formally recognized by the United Nations or any country in the world, though they maintain good relations with a number of countries, especially neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.
Unlike Somalia, Somaliland is peaceful and stable and a functioning government is in charge. The country has an elected parliament and president.
The economy of this Muslim country’s economy largely relies on its millions of livestock, but they are vulnerable to drought. In the past year alone millions of sheep and goat have died from the drought and their owners forced to move from the countryside to the bigger cities.
Some foreign aid agencies have stepped in to help, but the Somaliland government wants to help the country and for that it needs international recognition which will enable them to sign trade deals, borrow money and engage in diplomacy on a global scale.
How American Special Operators Gradually Returned to Somalia hare
Source: Atlantic, Monday May 15, 2017
American UN soldiers patrol in southern Mogadishu, Somalia, in October of 1993.
The death of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken and the wounding of two more U.S. troops in Somalia this month marked the first deadly engagement for American forces in the country since the Battle of Mogadishu of October 1993.
The two events differ in notable respects, not least in their magnitude—the battle of October 3-4, 1993, resulted in 18 Americans killed and 79 wounded. But both operations reflect the adverse conditions that U.S. special-operations forces, and the United States more broadly, face in the world’s most dysfunctional states.
Back in the summer of 1993, warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid bedeviled an international coalition that was trying to restore order and build democracy in the midst of a vicious civil war in Somalia. A ruthless clan leader known for firing artillery into civilian neighborhoods and starving opposing clans into submission, Aidid had made himself the chief obstacle to the nation-building project.
The Clinton administration had removed a large U.S. Marine force months earlier and transferred authority over the remaining international troops to the United Nations. Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s UN ambassador, declared at the time, “[W]e will embark on an unprecedented enterprise aimed at nothing less than the restoration of an entire country as a proud, functioning and viable member of the community of nations.”
When the marines had occupied Mogadishu, their relentless patrolling of city streets had kept Aidid and other warlords in check. Once they left, the Asian, European, and African peacekeepers under UN command did not maintain such a visible presence. Sensing weakness, the clan militias began resisting foreign efforts to monitor their weapons caches and limit their activities.
In August 1993, the killing of four U.S. soldiers by a bomb traced to Aidid convinced Clinton that the status quo had become untenable. Clinton was unwilling to send additional conventional forces to Somalia, owing to reservations among congressmen in his own party, some of whom were already calling for the removal of all U.S. forces from a situation they were certain would devolve into another Vietnam.
But Clinton was open to sending special-operations forces, since their units were smaller and designed to maintain a low profile. Some in the special-operations community argued that their units could oust Aidid, demonstrating their ability to achieve strategic results without the participation of conventional forces.
Clinton decided to send the Army’s most elite unit, Delta Force, to Somalia, along with a Ranger company and a detachment from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
The operation of October 3, 1993, began auspiciously enough. Storming a three-story house in Mogadishu, the Delta operators rounded up several high-value targets without firing a shot. But then a rocket-propelled grenade felled one of the American Black Hawk helicopters flying nearby, forcing some of the U.S. ground troops to move toward its crash site.
Caught in the middle of the city with no Somali security forces to assist, the Delta operators and Rangers came under attack on all sides from Aidid’s militiamen. By intermingling with women and children, the militiamen reduced their vulnerability to American fire, wary as the latter were of harming civilians. Most of the American units were able to hold out until the arrival of reinforcements early the next day, but only at heavy loss of life and limb.
The high-casualty toll and the images of dead Americans dragged through Mogadishu’s streets drove Clinton to call off the hunt for Aidid. On October 13, 1993, he announced that U.S. forces would leave Somalia no later than March 31, 1994. In the announcement, he avoided mention of the botched raid, and instead attributed the decision to plans for transition of the mission to the United Nations. U.S. troops would not leave immediately, he stated, because “were American forces to leave now we would send a message to terrorists and other potential adversaries around the world that they can change our policies by killing our people.”
Yet ending the hunt for Aidid and setting a withdrawal date for U.S. forces were changes to America’s policies, ones that future terrorists like Osama bin Laden would cite as evidence of the value of killing Americans.
Somalia returned to the attention of the U.S. national-security community after 9/11, as the result of a decision by bin Laden to dispatch lieutenants to the country. On the run in Pakistan, bin Laden was sprinkling his faithful across Muslim lands to reduce his movement’s vulnerability and diversify its recruiting base.
The lack of a viable central government and the presence of Sunni Muslims made Somalia an ideal place to recruit followers, plan terrorist strikes, and hide from the Americans.
In 2006, a Somali-Islamic extremist group known as the Council of Islamic Courts took control of Mogadishu, driving out the feeble provisional government.
The Council’s fighters swept into central and southern Somalia and seemed on the verge of consolidating control of the whole country. Neighboring Ethiopia, however, became so alarmed at the prospect of an extremist state on its borders that it unleashed its army. The Ethiopians handily defeated the Council, seizing Mogadishu in just a few days.
For U.S. special-operations forces, Ethiopia’s occupation of Somalia was a windfall. Arriving in Mogadishu together with the Ethiopian forces, American special operators set up shop alongside them. While the Ethiopians secured roads and swatted down lowly insurgents, the Americans nabbed al-Qaeda leaders.
But after the Ethiopians reinstated the provisional government, it remained incapable of governing effectively or organizing large security forces. Al-Shabab, an ascendant offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, waged a vigorous, effective guerrilla war on the Ethiopian occupation forces, inflicting heavy casualties. To ease the burden on the Ethiopians, the UN Security Council decided in 2007 to deploy 8,000 African Union troops to Somalia for what would come to be known as African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
In early 2009, Ethiopia negotiated a peace agreement with the Islamists and withdrew its forces. The Ethiopians had scarcely crossed the border when the Somali Islamists breached the peace agreement. UN-trained Somali security forces were supposed to protect the transitional government, but they quickly crumbled once the Ethiopian buttresses had been removed. Extremist forces took control of Mogadishu and most of Somalia’s other territory. Radicals from around the world flocked to Somalia to join in the fun.
According to the FBI, at least 30 Americans joined al-Shabab by 2011, three of whom had carried out suicide attacks against African Union forces. Abdisalan Hussein Ali, a 22-year-old American of Somali extraction who had briefly studied chemistry at the University of Minnesota before disappearing in 2008, recorded a message to inspire future jihadists prior to blowing himself up. “Don’t just sit around, you know, and be, you know, a couch potato and just like, just chill all day,” he said. “Today jihad is what is most important. It’s not important that you become a doctor, or some sort of engineer.”
The withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia and the rise of al-Shabab greatly reduced U.S. opportunities to hunt down extremists on Somali territory.
President Obama was unwilling to establish a military footprint in the country, so intelligence collection had to take place at a distance. Operational forces had to fly in from elsewhere, reducing their stealth advantage. U.S. special operations forces conducted only occasional strikes against terrorist suspects in Somalia.
Like the Islamic Courts Union before them, al-Shabab poked Somalia’s neighbors too hard and in so doing spoiled its own chances of consolidating control. In July 2010, al-Shabab suicide bombers blew themselves up in a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala, for the purpose of inducing the Ugandans to withdraw their AMISOM troop contingent from Somalia.
The blasts killed more than 70 people and injured more than 80. Rather than cowering, the Ugandans took the fight to al-Shabab, sending more troops to Somalia, increasing the size of AMISOM to 20,000. In August 2010, the Ugandans spearheaded an offensive that ousted al-Shabab from Mogadishu.
At this juncture, the U.S. military advocated the insertion of its own personnel into Somalia to train and advise both Somali and African Union forces. The White House turned down the recommendation. With AMISOM lacking enough troops to extend central authority beyond the country’s main urban centers, al-Shabab was able to hang on to much of the countryside.
Al-Shabab lashed out again at its hostile neighbors on September 21, 2013, with the storming the Westgate Mall in Kenya. During the three-day siege, the attackers killed 67 people, including 18 foreigners, and wounded another 200.
The Obama administration downplayed the attack in public, but a number of U.S. officials privately voiced great concerns about al-Shabab’s rising power. Some recommended strikes to kill al-Shabab’s leadership. The ability of al-Shabab leaders to mingle with the population, however, discouraged the use of drone strikes, as did the growing international revulsion at drone warfare.
Problems arising from the intermingling of civilians with the enemy also stood in the way of precision-strike missions by U.S. special operations forces.
The most valuable targets, moreover, were located in territory held by the enemy, which would afford it greater opportunities to detect and resist raiding forces. In spite of those obstacles, Obama authorized a raid to nab the al-Shabab commander Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, whom U.S. intelligence had located in Baraawe, a Somali city of 200,000 residents. At two in the morning on October 5, 2013, a speedboat deposited 20 U.S. Navy SEALs at one of Baraawe’s beaches.
When they reached the house where Abdulkadir was believed to be located, a sentry saw them and opened fire with his AK-47. The eruption of gunfire awoke other militants in nearby compounds, who ran toward the sound of the guns, their own assault rifles in hand. The enemy fighters kept the SEALs sufficiently busy to allow Abdulkadir to slip away. With the hostile forces multiplying, the SEAL commander soon ordered his men to withdraw.
Two months later, the White House finally decided to send a small number of troops to Somalia. But the Obama administration’s desire to avoid entanglement limited the deployment to just three U.S. advisers. Such a pittance could help with the occasional raid, but could do nothing to build a viable government and security forces.
Establishing the writ of the central Somalian government across the entire country is the best solution, but today it remains far easier said than done. While the Trump administration’s recent deployment of U.S. troops to Somalia suggests that it is more committed to that endeavor than its predecessor, the most important actors are the Somalis, and it is not clear that the current generation of Somalis will ever be up to the task. In the meantime, the United States will have to rely on risky raids if it wishes to eliminate extremist leaders in areas dominated by Al-Shabab.
That is not to say that such raids are unwarranted. Somalia has harbored extremists who pose direct threats to the United States and its allies, not to mention the fledgling Somalian government. But the anticipated reward of an operation must be very high when the risk of American casualties is so severe, and when the long-term consequences are ephemeral.
The Future of the AU Mission in Somalia
Source: The Institute for Security Studies, Posted: 11 May 2017 06:32 AM PDT
The focus is on the future of the African Union and the AMISOM mission in Somalia. Will AMISOM add troops over the short term before it decides to pull out of Somalia?
DP World Celebrates New Concession at Somali Port
Source: theMARITIME EXECUTIVE, Friday May 12, 2017
On May 11, executives with DP World held a ceremony with President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo of Somaliland to celebrate the start of DP’s 30-year concession at the port of Berbera.
DP will invest up to $442 million in two phases to build a multipurpose port at Berbera, including a 400 yard quay, a 60-acre yard extension and a new free zone.
“This is part of our vision to act as an enabler of trade and to facilitate growth by helping African countries develop their infrastructure that connects them to global markets,” said DP World Group Chairman & CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem. “These are exciting times for our industry and for Africa, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to be an integral part of Somaliland’s development.”
Since it took over management from the government of Somaliland in March, DP World says that it has retained all 713 permanent employees and begun training and staff development to prepare them for roles in a modern port.
President Silanyo emphasized that the project is a symbol of Somaliland’s diplomatic relationships as much as a development initiative. “This DP World investment . . . will strengthen the relationship between the Republic of Somaliland and the UAE which existed for many centuries in the past,” he said in a statement.
Somaliland is self-governing and is widely recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia, but it seeks diplomatic recognition as an independent nation with peer-level ties to other states. In February, President Silanyo signed an agreement giving the UAE military a base in Berbera, just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. In exchange, the Emirates will provide training and equipment to Somaliland’s forces.
DP World contributes to drought relief
On Thursday, DP World said that it is working closely with the local government in Berbera to provide water to the community. The port operator has already given 1.2 million gallons of water to 15,000 local families, and it says that it is working on long-term solutions to the area’s water scarcity.
Somaliland, like neighboring territories in Somalia, is in the grips of a severe and prolonged drought. The United Nations warns that millions of people face starvation as the water shortage kills off the livestock herds that Somalis rely on for sustenance.
In April, Somaliland Vice President Abdirahman Abdullahi Seylici told media that the government would suspend its development projects in order to save its funds for drought and famine relief. “When there is fear that a lot of people might die due to the worsening drought, we decided to suspend building developmental projects . . . we decided to divert money to emergency, live-saving and drought-response efforts,” Seylici told VOA.
Intergroup Conflicts along the Ethiopia-Kenya Border
Source: The African Journal, Posted: 09 May 2017 12:59 PM PDT
The paper argues that inter-group conflicts in Africa, including the recurrent conflicts on the margins of the Ethiopian state along the Ethiopia-Kenya border are caused by a complex interplay of factors and involvement of actors. The conflicts should not be reduced to ethnicity and resource scarcity. The paper looks at the interaction of three ethnic groups: Borana, Gabra, and Garri.
Prospects for London Conference on Somalia
Source: The International Crisis Group (ICG), Posted: 10 May 2017 08:16 AM PDT
The London Conference on Somalia takes place on 11 May. The ICG concludes that if Somalia’s new government fails to fulfil hopes of better governance, less corruption, more work on reconciliation and addressing conflicts among federal states, it should come as no surprise were London to host another conference with similar aims in 2023.
The Africa Competitiveness Report 2017
Source: The world Economic Forum, Posted: 08 May 2017 06:05 PM PDT
The report highlights areas requiring policy action and investment to ensure that Africa lays a solid foundation for sustained inclusive growth. It discusses the barriers and challenges to putting Africa’s economies onto a solid footing and helping them to achieve sustainable, broad-based growth, taking into account rapid demographic changes. The strong economic performance of a number of African countries demonstrates Africa’s resilience and brings optimism about Africa’s future growth prospects. The report includes detailed discussions of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, but not any other country in the Horn of Africa.