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Horn of Africa


BREAKING: Al-Shabaab changes tactics, attacks residential home in Mogadishu

BREAKING: Al-Shabaab changes tactics, attacks residential home in Mogadishu

Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday February 21, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) – The al-Qaida-linked terror group al-Shabaab carried out a suicide attack and stormed a residential house belonging to a senior military commander in Mogadishu’s Abdiaziz district on Tuesday.

Security forces are currently engaged in a firefight with the militants inside the house, which also houses Ma’awisley militiamen who were recently injured in the ongoing offensive against al-Shabaab in the Hiiraan region.

Police have not released any details on the number of casualties. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is the first time the group has stormed a residential house, as it was previously known for staging attacks on hotels and government offices.

Last month, the militants attacked the compound that housed the Mogadishu mayor’s office and other local government facilities in Mogadishu, killing five civilians and injuring four others.

The latest incident comes as the Somali government continues its military operations in several regions to dislodge al-Shabaab from towns and villages.

This story is developing..

Ethnic Minorities from Northern Ethiopia Afraid to Return from Sudan

Ethnic Minorities from Northern Ethiopia Afraid to Return from Sudan

 Source: The New Humanitarian published on 16 February 2023 an article titled “Ethiopian Minorities Remain Fearful Despite Peace Deal” by Claire Wilmot, London School of Economics.

Minority Kunama, Irob, Qemant, and Agew from northern Ethiopia who became refugees in Sudan are still fearful about returning to their homes.  The article also sheds light on the broader concerns of these small ethnic groups. 

Ethiopia Wants to Shut Down Special UN Human Rights Commission

Ethiopia Wants to Shut Down Special UN Human Rights Commission

 Source: Agence France Presse published on 15 February 2023 an article titled “Ethiopia Warns UN-Backed Probe Could ‘Undermine’ Peace Process.”

The UN-backed  International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia issued a report saying there is evidence all sides in the war with Tigray may be subject to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The government of Ethiopia rejected the report and is trying to stop the commission from continuing its work because it will undermine the AU-led peace process.  

Egypt FM affirms need for binding agreement on Ethiopian dam to UN envoy to Horn of Africa

Egypt FM affirms need for binding agreement on Ethiopian dam to UN envoy to Horn of Africa

Source: ahramonline, Friday February 17, 2023

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry reaffirmed to the UN special envoy to the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh Egypt’s stance on the necessity of reaching a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, which takes into account the interests of all three countries – Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia – and preserves Egypt’s water rights.

Egypt s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in his meeting with the UN Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh on the sidelines of the 42nd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council in Addis Ababa. Photo : Egyptian Foreign Ministry

This came during a meeting on Thursday on  the sidelines of the 42nd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council in Addis Ababa, according to a statement released by the Egyptian foreign ministry.

Security in Somalia

houkry and Tetteh discussed several issues related to security and peace in the Horn of Africa, especially in Somalia, the statement added.

During the meeting, Shoukry noted that the visit of the Somali president to Egypt last July reflected common understandings between the two countries within the framework of Egypt’s firm and historical role in supporting Somalia.

The two officials affirmed the need for international partners to join hands to support efforts to stabilise the situation in Somalia by activating the role of the African Union Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

Support for stability in Sudan

The Egyptian foreign minister and the UN envoy also discussed developments in Sudan.

Shoukry affirmed to Tetteh Cairo’s support to achieving consensus among the Sudanese political forces in order to ensure the success of the transitional period and achieve the aspirations of the Sudanese people in restoring stability. and overcoming current challenges.

From her side, Tetteh praised the Egyptian efforts to support peace and security in Sudan and Somalia expressing her interest to continue consultation and coordination with Egypt in this regard, according to the statement.

African nations turn to currency redesign to tackle graft, inflation

African nations turn to currency redesign to tackle graft, inflation

Source: The Citizen, Friday February 17, 2023

A man holding Somali shilling notes after having exchanged US dollars with a money changer in Mogadishu, 23 October 2013.

Nairobi. African countries are turning to new-generation banknotes to help curb corruption, runaway inflation and money laundering.

From simple alterations like changing colour schemes to complex modifications incorporating embedded security features, central banks in Nigeria, Somalia, and Central African States have demonetised older series banknotes.

Somalia is the latest country to announce plans to replace its old 1,000-shilling notes, last printed in 1991.

The country’s central bank has set mid-2024 as the deadline to replace the only high-value currency note still in use, to deal with counterfeit bills, excess cash in circulation and inflation.

“The new issuance will combat illicit funds and curb inflation by mopping up excess liquidity,” said Somalia Central Bank Deputy Governor Ali Yasin Wardhere in an interview with Bloomberg.

An influx of fake currency has been linked to high inflation and corruption rates, with many people subsequently forced to revert to US dollars.

The latest Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International ranks Somalia at the bottom (position 180) globally.

Besides Somalia, Nigeria is also currently replacing its currency notes to prevent hoarding, contain inflation and address counterfeiting.

In November 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) unveiled new 1,000, 500, and 200 naira notes to replace some 2.7 trillion naira ($5.85 billion) in cash held outside the country’s banking system.

“So far and since the commencement of this program, we have collected 1.9 trillion naira, leaving us with about 900 billion,” CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele shared in a press release last month.

According to CBN data, currency in circulation in Nigeria had more than doubled from US$3 billion in 2015 to US$7 billion in October 2022.

However, only US$1 billion (500 billion naira) of that could be traced within the banking industry, with some US$5.85 billion (2.7 trillion naira) held ‘permanently’ in people’s homes.

“We also aim to support efforts of security agencies in combating banditry and ransom-taking in Nigeria through this program,” the statement read.

CBN had set February 10 2023, as the deadline for using the old notes, after which they would be rendered illegal.

However, the country’s supreme court on February 8 blocked the central bank’s plan and adjourned the matter until February 15.

“We were successful in obtaining an interim injunction against the February 10 Central Bank of Nigeria deadline for use of the old notes until the determination of the substantive suit,” said Aisha Dikko, the attorney general of the Kaduna state government in northern Nigeria.

The Central African States of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon have also begun using redesigned and upgraded currency notes that began circulating in mid-December 2022.

“From December 15, 2022 the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) puts into circulation its new range of “type 2020” bank notes. More compact, more mordern and better secure,” BEAC posted on its website.

A salient feature in all the five upgraded denominations of the franc (XAF) banknotes (500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000) is the representation of four official languages in Central Africa.French and Arabic features are on the front of the notes, while English and Spanish have been used on the reverse sides. The notes come embedded with solid security threads, a watermark (three eland antelope heads), and different electrotype grades depending on the value of currency notes.

Also included are special features that can be felt by hand by the visually impaired – one line for 500, two for 1,000, three for 2,000 and five for 10,000 notes.

Other notable features include the BEAC headquarters building, a stylized outline of Africa in diamonds and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) logo.

The Central African Monetary Union (UMAC) announced that the current 1992 generation of banknotes would cease to serve as legal tender in the region from March 2023.

In July 2022, Sierra Leone also introduced a new family of banknotes, stripping three zeros off the leone to restore confidence in the inflation-hit national currency.

In 2019, Kenya withdrew its 1,000 shilling notes to crack down on embezzlement and tackle a wave of counterfeiting

Djibouti contributes $1M in cash to Turkish relief efforts for earthquake victims

Djibouti contributes $1M in cash to Turkish relief efforts for earthquake victims

Source AA, Friday February 17, 2023

Djibouti has donated $1 million in cash to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) and will also send a second batch of relief goods to people affected by the devastating twin earthquakes in Türkiye on Thursday night.

An official at the Turkish Embassy in Djibouti told Anadolu over the phone on Thursday that the Djibouti ambassador to Ankara had made the cash donation to AFAD the day before.

According to the official, who did not want to be identified, they are sending 10 generators, six industrial projectors, 113 blankets, 100 pullovers, and 35 thermal garments donated by Djibouti companies on Thursday night.

This is Djibouti’s second in-kind donation to Türkiye. The first, which contained 120 tents, 185 kilograms of clothing, and 75 kilograms of hygiene supplies, was delivered on Tuesday.

He said the Djibouti government and people are fully committed to helping earthquake victims in Türkiye.

At least 36,187 people were killed by the two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye last week, the AFAD said on Thursday.

The Feb. 6 magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, and Elazig.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in the space of less than 10 hours.

UN raises alarm over surge in migration from Horn of Africa

UN raises alarm over surge in migration from Horn of Africa

Source: africanews, Friday February 17, 2023

Distressed migrants in Obock, Djibouti, are taken to IOM’s Migration Response Centre for more care. © IOM/Alexander Bee

The number of women and children migrating from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries through Yemen has significantly increased and is a cause of concern, according to the head of the International Organization for Migration.

The treacherous journey from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti through Yemen, called the Eastern Migration Route, has seen a 64% increase in the past year of people seeking better livelihoods, with larger numbers of women with children and children traveling alone, IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino told The Associated Press.

Climate change is a driver of the increased migration, he said.

In the past, women and children would often opt out of the dangerous journey through the desert mostly made on foot. Previously men would leave their families behind and make the trek in the hope of finding jobs and sending money back home.

“The pressure is mounting” as the numbers of migrants rise, said Vitorino who was in Kenya for the launch of a $84 million appeal to support more than 1 million migrants using the route through Yemen.

The desperate migrants are vulnerable to criminal gangs along the route and need protection against rape, violence, traffickers and smugglers, he said.

Some of the migrants are unaware of the dangers including the war in Yemen and the U.N.’s migration organization needs to improve awareness of the perils, he said. For migrants who still choose to take the journey, the organization should offer basic healthcare and other services and in some cases return them to their countries of origin, he said.

“Last year, we have returned voluntarily to Ethiopia 2,700 migrants and upon arrival we provided post-arrival assistance to support them to move back to their regions of origin,” Vitorino said.

Also rising is the migration of people from West Africa through Libya to Europe and the plight of those migrants, particularly those detained in Libya, is a global concern, he said.

“We know where the official detention centers are and we have access to them, not permanent, never alone, but under surveillance of security guards. But we have access to provide assistance,” said Vitorino.

But the U.N. organization does not have access to the unofficial detentions centers, which are particularly worrying, he said. Abuses have been widely reported in both official and unofficial detention centers. Libya’s political instability makes it difficult to have the political cooperation needed to dismantle the unofficial detention centers, he said.

The IOM is striving to get more migrants into voluntary return programs in order to reduce those in detention, he said. It’s difficult because the number of migrants who want to return is much higher than available flights from Libya, he said.

Vitorino said he hopes the factors that lead to increased migration, like climate change and conflict, can be addressed to reduce the number of people moving away from their homes.

He stressed the need for migrants to pursue legal migration routes, adding that although the process is complicated and cumbersome, it cannot be compared to the life-threatening conditions along illegal routes.

By Africanews with AP

Somalia’s debt to IFAD is cleared

Somalia’s debt to IFAD is cleared

Source: telesur, Tuesday February 14, 2023

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Alvaro Lario

In recent years, this African country has suffered five severe droughts that have fully impacted the ability to produce food.

On Tuesday, Donal Brown, the assistant vice president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), announced that Somalia’s external debt with this institution had been cleared thanks to the actions promoted by Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Sweden.

The decision to forgive the debt will allow IFAD to reinvest in improving living conditions in rural areas and foster “resilience and a more prosperous future” for the country’s population, IFAD President Alvaro Lario said during a press conference held jointly with Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Debt cancellation “represents an opportunity to achieve greater food security for Somalia, investing very selectively in priority areas,” he added.

In recent years, Somalia has suffered five severe droughts that have fully impacted the ability to produce food in one of the poorest countries in the world.

In 2011 alone, some 250,000 Somalis died of hunger, which is more deaths than those caused by the armed conflicts that the country has suffered throughout its history, Sheikh recalled.

Added to the natural catastrophes is the dominance of jihadist groups over large areas of Somalia, which further limits agricultural activity and the movement of food within the country itself.

Today, despite the fact that the Mogadishu government has recaptured some of the areas that fell into the hands of armed groups, half of the country’s population remains on the brink of starvation.

Italy, the former colonial power that controlled Somalia until World War II, previously helped clear other debts for the country. In 2020, for instance, Italy offered a loan to the African country to settle its debts with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), and the African Development Bank (ADB).

Ukraine to train African diplomats amid Russia invasion

Ukraine to train African diplomats amid Russia invasion

Sourc: BBC, Wednesday February 15, 2023

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba visited several African states last year

Ukraine has launched a training course for diplomats from African countries, as part of an effort to strengthen relations with the continent, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said.

The Foreign Ministry said on its website on 14 February that a “comprehensive” four-day online training course would be delivered at the Hennadiy Udovenko Diplomatic Academy.

According to the ministry, the agreement was reached during the first-ever tour of a Ukrainian foreign minister to African countries in October 2022.

“During my tour, our African partners showed considerable interest in studying Ukrainian diplomatic experience,” Mr Kuleba said.

He added that since Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine had proven to be an “undisputed international leader” in public diplomacy.

He further said the course developed by the ministry was a” continuation of the renaissance of relations between Ukraine and African countries, and will also be our practical contribution to strengthening the stability of the African continent”.

More than 200 diplomats from Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Senegal “will have a unique opportunity to learn from the experience of practising Ukrainian diplomats, leading international relations scientists and experts of think tanks” during the course named “Security and Diplomacy in Wartime. Ukrainian experience”, the foreign ministry said.

Ukraine has been trying to win support in Africa where Russia has a much stronger foothold.

Over 1 million migrants in need of assistance in the Horn of Africa: IOM appeals for USD 84 million

Over 1 million migrants in need of assistance in the Horn of Africa: IOM appeals for USD 84 million

Source: UN, IOM Wednesday February 15, 2023

Migrants traversing Djibouti brave the harsh desert terrain often without adequate food and water, during their journeys along the perilous Eastern Route. Photo: IOM 2022

Geneva/Nairobi – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and 47 other partners are appealing today (14/02) for USD 84 million to provide humanitarian and development assistance to over 1 million migrants and the communities hosting them, many of whom are vulnerable, and in need of urgent help along the Eastern Route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen.  

The appeal, made through the multi-agency Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen framework, will address the dire humanitarian needs as well as protection risks and vulnerabilities that migrants in the region face and scale up the delivery of lifesaving and resilience-building initiatives as well as pursue the implementation of long-term sustainable solutions for migrants and host communities.

The Eastern Route is one of the busiest, most complex, and dangerous migratory routes in the world. In 2022 overall, the number of migrants who entered Djibouti almost doubled compared to the previous year. In the same year, 89 migrant deaths or disappearances were recorded along the route due to hazardous transportation, illness, harsh environmental conditions, drowning at sea, and violence. Many more deaths and disappearances go unreported.

Every year, thousands of migrants leave their countries in the Horn of Africa and move along the Eastern route towards Gulf countries. In their migration, most migrants make the dangerous crossing of the Red Sea through Bossaso in Somalia, and Djibouti’s coastal town of Obock to Yemen and further by land to Gulf countries.

“The Eastern Route is an underserved crisis easily forgotten amidst other global crises, and we must accord the migrants the support and dignity they deserve,” said IOM Director General, António Vitorino. “The Regional Migrant Response Plan was conceptualized to address the vast and complex challenges on this route and to do so in a coherent and coordinated manner.”  

Mobility in the Horn of Africa, through Yemen and to the Gulf States, continues to be triggered by interconnected crises, including persistent insecurity and conflict, harsh climatic conditions, and public health emergencies, in addition to socioeconomic drivers and more traditional seasonal factors.

Funding through this appeal will address the most immediate and critical humanitarian and protection needs of migrants in vulnerable situations; support their voluntary return to their home countries in a safe and dignified manner and ensure that they reintegrate back into their communities successfully.  

“The plan provides a flexible mechanism for all stakeholders to respond to evolving migration trends, and broader humanitarian and development challenges affecting migrants, host communities and the respective governments,” added the IOM Director General.

Funding through this appeal will further help stakeholders’ efforts towards addressing the drivers of irregular migration; strengthen the capacity of governments in the region on migration management; ensure coordination of efforts, and enhance inter-state and inter-regional collaboration to address the national and regional dimensions of the migration linking the Horn of Africa and Yemen. 

A Negative Assessment of Sudan’s Framework Agreement

A Negative Assessment of Sudan’s Framework Agreement

Source:  The Arab Center Washington, D.C. posted on 23 January 2023 a commentary titled “Sudan’s Political Process and Hopes for a Civilian Government” by Kholood Khair.  

Sudan’s Framework Agreement to relaunch a transition to civilian government is dependent on support from the international community.  Sudan’s military rulers made few concessions and civilians will likely acquire only bureaucratic and not political power.  The author predicts the agreement “will likely lead to a weak and barely legitimate Potemkin village of a government that is unable to deliver real change.

Somalia: An Analysis of the Offensive against Al-Shabaab

Somalia: An Analysis of the Offensive against Al-Shabaab

Source:  CTC Sentinel published in January 2023 an analysis titled “Can Somalia’s New Offensive Defeat Al-Shabaab” by Stig Jarle Hansen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.  

Somali government and regional forces have defeated al-Shabaab forces before only to see them reemerge as strong actors.  The key is to erode al-Shabaab’s ability to infiltrate government-controlled areas and its ability to govern, tax, and implement “justice” in these areas. 

Defence ministers, army chiefs of Horn of Africa countries meet in Mogadishu

Defence ministers, army chiefs of Horn of Africa countries meet in Mogadishu

Source: Hiiraan, Tuesday January 31, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) – Defence ministers and army commanders of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti met in Mogadishu on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the summit for Heads of State from frontline countries.

At a press conference in Mogadishu, the Somali minister of information Daud Aweys stated that the meeting would focus on developing a unified strategy and cooperation among the region’s frontline states.

“Somalia hosts Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defence Forces from Frontline States (Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia) to discuss and adopt a common position on regional security and the fight against Al Shabab,” stated the Information Minister.

“This meeting is significant because the current security situation in Somalia affects not only Somalia but also neighboring countries. This meeting will make it easier to eliminate the Khawarij collectively,” he added.

The ministers and army chief will prepare agendas for the head of states summit on Wednesday, which is expected to focus on the fight against al Shabab.

Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed in Sudan on first visit since 2021 coup

Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed in Sudan on first visit since 2021 coup

Abiy last visited Sudan in August 2020, during the transitional government of former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (R) walks alongside Sudanese Army Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burha
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (right) walks alongside Sudanese army General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (left) at Khartoum International Airport during a welcome ceremony on January 26, 2023 [Ashraf Shazly/AP]

Source: Aljazeera, Published On 26 Jan 202326 Jan 2023

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has visited Sudan for meetings with military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his first trip to the neighbouring country since a 2021 military coup there.

Relations between the two Horn of Africa countries have been fraught with tensions in recent years, including over a border dispute and refugees from the two-year conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.

Why Somalia has air traffic control for the first time since the 1990s

Why Somalia has air traffic control for the first time since the 1990s
Friday January 27, 2023

Source: By Ryan Erik King

The country’s airspace was deemed uncontrolled after the start of the Somali Civil War in 1991.

Turkish Airlines’ inaugural flight to Mogadishu in 2012 Photo: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP (Getty Images)

Air traffic control is a critical element of commercial air travel. Every day, there are thousands of metal tubes flying through the air at over 500 miles per hour. These flights need to be managed closely so that each airliner can depart and arrive safely at its destination. It is difficult to imagine anywhere in the world without the ability to monitor its own airspace properly. Yet, Somalia hasn’t had that capability for the past 30 years. Until Thursday.

The International Air Transport Association, the global airline trade association, confirmed that Somalia’s airspace had been reclassified as Class A. Class A airspace starts at 18,000 feet and extends up to 60,000 feet, a space primarily intended for large passenger and cargo planes. Somali airspace lost this classification in 1991, primarily due to the start of the Somali Civil War.

The establishment of the current federal government and the declared end of the civil war in 2012 also meant the return of organized civil aviation to Somalia. Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu even hosted the swear-in ceremony for members of the new parliament. Turkish Airlines, the only international carrier serving Somalia, began flights to the airport that same year.

Somali airspace had Class G status starting in 1992, deeming the airspace as effectively uncontrolled. The area was managed from another country, a center in Nairobi, Kenya. The Somali government transferred the airspace’s management to Mogadishu in 2018, and significant navigation and communication infrastructure upgrades were made in 2022. According to Simple Flying, these improvements made reclassification possible.

Somalia sits at an important point on the global, sitting between Europe, West Africa, India and Southeast Asia. The same fact has given the UAE hub status with its flag carriers, Emirates and Etihad. Now, the country in the Horn of Africa can make connections to improve its standing in the global economy

Egypt signs ICT MoUs with Somalia and Palestine

Egypt signs ICT MoUs with Somalia and Palestine

Source: African Wireless communications, Friday January 27, 2023

Amr Talaat, Egyptian Minister of Communication and Information Technology. Photo/ Telecom Review Africa

Amr Talaat, Egyptian Minister of Communication and Information Technology, has signed separate memorandums of understanding with his Palestinian counterpart, Ishaq Sidr, and his Somali counterpart, Jama Hassan Khalif, to promote cooperation between Egypt and each of the two countries in the information and communication technology (ICT) and postal sectors.

The MoU with the Palestinian government covers technical cooperation in policy formulation and implementation in both sectors, while enriching the legal frameworks governing mutual cooperation.

The MoU with Somalia aims to support fruitful and close bilateral cooperation through the exchange of experiences in the field of information and communication technologies based on a common interest. Somalia will benefit from specialized training programs on the latest technologies in the field of communications, such as data analysis, artificial intelligence, information security, fibre optics, integrated systems, and cybersecurity.

Somalia’s Islamic scholars declare jihad against Al Shabaab following conference

Somalia’s Islamic scholars declare jihad against Al Shabaab following conference

Source: Hiiraan Online, Friday January 27, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) – Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre made the closing remarks at a conference for religious scholars in Mogadishu on Thursday.

The three-day conference concluded with the clerics agreeing that Al Shabaab, the militant group waging a deadly insurgency against the Somali government for over a decade, do not have any religious legitimacy and has labelled them as Khawarij.

The religious scholars roundly condemned Al Shabaab as the “enemies of Islam and the Somali people,” according to a press release, and declared that fighting them was a “righteous jihad.”

Daesh – or ISIS  – was also denounced as a deviant ‘Khawarij’ sect.

“The Conference of Somali Scholars unanimously tells the Somali community that Al-Shabaab and Daesh are Khawarij criminals whose blood is lawful to spill (hadur), and we all have a duty to fight them; Anyone who fights or dies in the war against the Khawarij is a martyr who is expected to be among the people that our Messenger, may his mercy and peace be upon him, said that will be in Paradise.”

Somali government forces and local anti-Shabaab clan militias launched a military campaign to remove Al Shabaab from central Somalia in the Summer of 2022. The operations have increased pressure on al Shabaab by capturing district capitals that al Shabaab has used for logistics and finances. 

Somali military officials have begun mobilizing for the second phase of the offensive, targeting the militants in the southwest, where the group controls several towns and villages.

The scholars also decreed that it is prohibited to interact with the ‘Khawarij sect’ in any form, including transacting in business, offering charity, and seeking justice from their court.

“The conference proves to the Somali nation that the war against the Khawarij is a jihad to defend the major pillars of the Islamic Sharia: religion, life, property, intelligence, and the dignity of humanity,” said the statement.

The Islamic convention was aimed at shoring up cooperation between Somalia’s government and the religious community.

President Mohamud hosted a dinner for the scholars on Thursday evening after the conference.

President Mohamud thanked the religious community for unanimously condemning Al Shabaa and other extremist groups.


Senior Islamic State leader in Somalia killed in U.S. special operations raid

Senior Islamic State leader in Somalia killed in U.S. special operations raid

Source: New York times, Friday January 27, 2023

By Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper

WASHINGTON — U.S. Special Operations commandos killed a senior leader of the Islamic State militant group in an early-morning helicopter raid in a remote area of northern Somalia on Thursday, U.S. officials said.

The Pentagon identified the leader as Bilal al-Sudani. U.S. officials said he was operating in Somalia but that his influence as one of the terrorist group’s top financial operatives extended across Africa, into Europe and even to the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan that carried out the August 2021 bombing at Kabul’s international airport that killed 13 American service members.

In a statement Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said al-Sudani “was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan.”

Biden administration officials said no civilians were injured or killed in the raid. They also said none of the U.S. troops involved were hurt, although one was bitten by a dog they had brought with them.

During a call with reporters Thursday afternoon, a senior administration official described al-Sudani as “a key operative and facilitator for ISIS’ global network.” The official said the operative was killed along with 10 other Sudanese Islamic State associates.

The raid took place in a remote mountainous cave complex in the Puntland region of northern Somalia, months after U.S. spy networks detected al-Sudani’s hidden headquarters and monitored the location to study his movements.

The senior administration official said that the Special Operations troops had been prepared to capture al-Sudani but that the response from his associates when American troops arrived at their cave complex “resulted in his death.”

Nonetheless, based on previous raids, the commandos almost certainly scooped up laptop computers and hard drives, cellphones and other information from al-Sudani’s hideout that could provide tips for future counterterrorism operations.

The fact that the Pentagon sent commandos to kill or capture al-Sudani — a decision that required President Joe Biden’s approval this week — rather than using a less-risky drone operation indicated his significance.

One senior administration official said there was no one else in the Islamic State group’s global constellation of operatives who rivaled al-Sudani in his ability to receive and distribute illicit funds — as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars at any given time — to far-flung Islamic State affiliates on at least three continents through a network of clandestine contacts he built over more than a decade.

In another sign of al-Sudani’s importance, the military built a mock-up of his mountainous cave complex to allow commandos to rehearse their secret mission — just as Navy SEAL Team 6 forces did before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 in Pakistan.

U.S. officials did not reveal which Special Operations unit carried out Thursday’s raid, but SEAL Team 6 has historically conducted the most sensitive counterterrorism missions in Somalia.

Biden redeployed about 450 U.S. troops to Somalia last year, reversing former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal in January 2021. But those forces only provide training to Somali forces and do not conduct counterterrorism operations, Pentagon officials said.

Somalia is better known as a harbor for al-Shabab, the terrorist group linked to al-Qaida, than for the Islamic State. But Islamic State attacks have increased across Africa.

The raid represents the latest in a string of setbacks this year for the Islamic State group and its core leadership in Iraq and Syria, the most serious since the end of the jihadis’ so-called caliphate nearly four years ago. In late November, the militant group announced that its overall leader, whose identity has remained shrouded in mystery, had been killed in battle in Syria less than nine months after taking charge of the terrorist organization.

Outside the Middle East, the group has experienced mixed success. Its branch in Afghanistan is locked in a stalemate with the Taliban government. But Islamic State fighters have struck highly symbolic targets in Afghanistan, including Russian and Chinese interests.

Islamic State fighters, along with al-Qaida cells, are gaining strength in West Africa, with the violence now threatening countries including Ghana, Togo and Benin.

At its peak, the Islamic State group ruled a self-proclaimed caliphate the size of Britain that spanned the border between Syria and Iraq and boasted tens of thousands of fighters from around the globe. Its extremist vision of eternal combat between its forces and anyone who opposed them inspired deadly attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Berlin, Baghdad and other major cities.

But an international coalition led by the United States worked with local forces in Iraq and Syria to fight it, finally pushing it from its last patch of territory in eastern Syria in March 2019.

Somali forces end al Shabab siege at Mogadishu’s Municipality headquarters

Somali forces end al Shabab siege at Mogadishu’s Municipality headquarters

Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday January 22, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) – Somali security forces ended a battle to regain control of the Banadir administration headquarters seized by al Shabab militants on Sunday.

Police spokesman Sadik Doodishe said at a press conference inside the headquarters that at least 11 people, including six attackers, were killed during the siege.  

Al-Shabab militants, which said it was behind the attack, had been holed up in one of the rooms in the buildings.

The spokesman added that security forces shot all the attackers dead, and government forces rescued several people during the attack.

Somalia’s Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

The mayor’s office is located in the local government headquarters building in a well-guarded area of Mogadishu.

Al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings and gun assaults on targets in Mogadishu and across the country.