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Horn of Africa
Ethiopian troops cross Somali border town to join a final offensive against al Shabab
Source: Sunday March 12, 2023
Kismayo (HOL) – Ethiopian military units, accompanied by armored vehicles, have been stationed in Dolow, Gedo region, after crossing the border on Wednesday, according to reports from local residents.
Although there has been no comment from either the Ethiopian or the federal governments on this development, other troops from Djibouti and Kenya are expected to follow suit.
Earlier this month, the national security adviser to Somali President Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed that Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya would send new troops to support Somali forces in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabab.
Sheikh Ali emphasized that these troops would join the soldiers already serving in the African Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) but would not be part of the ATMIS mission.
“Their role is to jointly plan and operate under the command of the Somali security forces,” he said. “They will fight against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces. That is the plan.”
The leaders of the three countries attended a summit hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on February 1 in Mogadishu, where they agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines, according to a communique issued at the time.
The Big Break-up: How Africa is gradually splitting into two continents and giving rise to a new ocean
The Big Break-up: How Africa is gradually splitting into two continents and giving rise to a new ocean
Source: FIRSTPOST, Sunday March 12, 2023
Scientists say Africa is peeling apart into two parts that will eventually lead to the formation of a new ocean. While the process will take millions of years to complete, this will split present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania from the rest of the continent, as per reports
The new ocean, splitting Africa into two continents, will take at least 5 to 10 million years to form. Reuters (Representational Image)
Africa is breaking up or “rifting” into two parts and a new ocean is being born, scientists have said.
As per a research published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters, two major sections of the continent are peeling apart, which could eventually form a new ocean.
Let’s understand the reason behind the split and how long will it take for Africa to break up.
What is rifting?
According to Science Direct, rifting is the tearing apart of a “single tectonic plate into two or more tectonic plates separated by divergent plate boundaries”.
A lowland region called the rift valley erupts where Earth’s tectonic plates move apart, noted National Geographic. These rift valleys can occur on land as well as at the bottom of the ocean.
This phenomenon can be dated at least 138 million years back when South America and Africa were divided into different continents, says IFLScience report.
For the last 30 million years, the Arabian plate has been drifting away from Africa, a process that resulted in the creation of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to NBC News.
Why is Africa is splitting into two?
The splitting up of the continent is linked to East African Rift, a 56 kilometres or 35-mile-long crack that emerged in Ethiopia’s desert in 2005. This will set off the formation of a new sea, as per a report in Economic Times.
The seismic data present in the research shows that the creation of the rift was triggered by similar tectonic processes that are taking place at the bottom of the ocean.
The crack was discovered at the border of three tectonic plates – African Nubian, African Somali, and Arabian – that have already been separating for some time, the Economic Times report added.
Spanning over 3,000km, the East African Rift Valley lies from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south. As per The Conversation, it divides the African plate into two parts: the Somali and Nubian plates.
“This is the only place on Earth where you can study how a continental rift becomes an oceanic rift,” Christopher Moore, a doctorate student at the University of Leeds, said, according to Mashable.
As rifting occurs, material from “deep inside Earth moves to the surface and forms oceanic crust at the ridges”, as per NBC News.
“We can see that oceanic crust is starting to form, because it’s distinctly different from continental crust in its composition and density,” Moore, who has been using satellite radar to monitor volcanic activity in East Africa that is associated with the continent’s breakup, had told NBC News in 2018.
How long before Africa is divided?
Not anytime soon.
It will take millions of years for Africa to be sliced into two unequal parts. The new ocean will take at least 5 million to 10 million years to form which could eventually give the landlocked countries of Uganda and Zambia their own coastlines.
The smaller continent created by the rift will include countries such as present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, as per USA Today.
GPS tracking has revealed the different paces at which the land movements between these tectonic plates are occurring, with the Arabian plate shifting away from Africa at a rate of one inch per year.
“As we get more and more measurements for GPS, we can get a much greater sense of what’s going on,” Ken Macdonald, a marine geophysicist and a professor emeritus at the University of California, said, as per Mashable.
“The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will flood in over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley and become a new ocean, and that part of East Africa will become its own separate small continent.”
Dr Edwin Dindi of the Department of Geology in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Nairobi told All Africa, “The Eastern arm of the Rift Valley is fairly active, this is seen in the many tremors that occur around it”. He added that “it will however take a long time probably millions of years” for the continent to split.
Though the process of rifting is happening for some time, the potential split made the headlines worldwide when a large crack in Kenyan Rift Valley emerged in 2018.
However, The Guardian reported then that the massive split was caused by sudden erosion rather than being evidence of the African continent actively tearing into two.
With inputs from agencies
East Africans ail from too much, too little rain
Source: AP, Saturday March 11, 2023
East Africa, and in particular, parts of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, are experiencing the driest conditions and hottest temperatures since satellite record-keeping began.
Surrounded by miles of dried land and what remains of his famished livestock, Daniel Lepaine is a worried man. Dozens of his goats in Ngong, a town in southern Kenya, have died after three years of harrowing drought in the east and Horn of Africa.
The rest are on the verge of starvation as rain continues to fail. “If this drought persists, I will have no livelihood and nothing for my family,” Lepaine mourned. “We are praying hard for the rains.”
But a few thousand miles south, communities are facing the opposite problem. Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which has already caused 21 deaths and displaced thousands of others in Madagascar and Mozambique, is set to make landfall in Mozambique once more on Friday. The nation is already suffering from Freddy’s first battering last month and severe flooding before that. Meteorologists told The Associated Press the uneven and devastating water distribution across Africa’s east coast states is caused by natural weather systems and exacerbated by human-made climate change with cyclones sucking up water that would otherwise be destined for nations further north. “The trend has always been two contrasting weather systems,” said Evans Mukolwe, the former head of Kenya’s meteorological department. “Intensified cyclones in the southern Africa region translates into drought on the eastern side including Horn of Africa.”
The current drought in the region began in late 2020, when the region’s short rains season failed. Meteorologists traced the lack of rain to the start of La Nina in late summer of the same year, the natural and cyclical weather event that cools sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, with knock-on effects for the African continent and the rest of the world. La Nina, together with El Nino and the neutral condition are called ENSO, which stands for El Nino Southern Oscillation.
These events have the largest natural effects on climate and can dampen or juice up the effects of human-caused climate change.
“There is a connection between the El Nino Southern Oscillation, rainfall patterns and drought in east and southern Africa,” said climate scientist Marjahn Finlayson. La Nina means east Africa “would be primed for drier conditions while southern Africa would be more primed to experience wetter and more humid conditions.”
When it comes to tropical cyclones, ENSO is a large factor in where they form and end up, said Anne-Claire Fontaine, a scientific officer with the World Meteorological Organization’s tropical cyclone program. El Nino favors tropical cyclones forming over the central basin of the Indian Ocean that then move toward the south pole, Fontaine said. “Whereas La Nina favors tropical cyclone formation over the eastern to central part of the basin and zonal tracks running westward to south westward” where it slams into southern Africa.
The damaging La Nina was declared over on Thursday by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which meteorologists say might spell better news ahead for the continent.
“It means that we will be entering an ENSO-neutral period until about June or so,” said Finlayson, when El Nino is then expected to take over — potentially zapping the drought.
“End of La Nina means El Nino rains. But this may not happen immediately. For Africa, El Nino rains are normally expected in the short rains seasons which run from October to December,” said Mukolwe. But there’s still the effect of climate change, which is worsening cyclones and drought by making them longer, more intense and more severe, according to the United Nations’ weather agency. Studies going back to mid-1980s suggest there is a clear link between warmer oceans and the intensity and number of cyclones.
Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events like floods, cyclones, droughts, wildfires and sandstorms because it has less capacity to prepare for natural disasters, according to a U.N. report. The continent only contributes about 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but suffers disproportionately.
Southern Africa is still in the throes of its cyclone season, with heavy flooding killing dozens, destroying homes and uprooting communities. Since 2019, the region has borne the brunt of 20 cyclones. A scientific analysis of the cyclones in the region last year found that climate change made the tropical storms more damaging and intense.
Meanwhile in the east and Horn of Africa, now in its sixth straight dry season, communities are counting huge losses. Authorities say 11 million livestock and iconic wildlife species have died due to the drought, leaving pastoralist families in abject poverty. Over 6,000 wild animals were lost to drought in Kenya alone by mid-February, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service, including elephants, giraffes and wildebeests.
But Finlayson is cautiously optimistic for the east of the continent in the short to medium term.
“Predictions are that we should expect a strong El Nino that will last from June to August,” she said, which would provide better conditions on Africa’s east coast. “It may be likely that we see those effects in the boreal autumn, but we have to wait and see.”
Blinken to travel to Ethiopia, Niger next week
Source: Reuters, Saturday March 11, 2023
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts the 17th annual International Women of Courage Award Ceremony on International Women’s Day at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ethiopia next week, the State Department said on Friday, as concerns linger over the implementation of the peace agreement following the conflict in the Tigray region that left tens of thousands dead and millions uprooted.
The visit, set as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed works to reestablish himself on the world stage following the two-year Tigray war, comes as foreign troops remain within the region and bureaucratic hurdles hamper the humanitarian response.
Blinken will also visit Niger, a key U.S. security partner, during the trip, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. It will be the first-ever visit to Niger by a U.S. secretary of state.
Africa has emerged as a focus for Washington as it aims to position itself as a partner to countries in the region amid competition with China, which has sought to expand its influence by funding infrastructure projects on the continent.
The visit to Addis Ababa and Niamey is one of a slew of high-level visits the Biden administration has planned to Africa this year.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee told reporters Blinken is expected to meet with the leadership of the Ethiopian government and Tigrayans while in Ethiopia, where he will discuss the implementation of the ceasefire.
Phee said relations with Ethiopia were not back to normal following the “earth shattering” conflict.
“To put that relationship in a forward trajectory, we will continue to need steps by Ethiopia to help break the cycle of ethnic political violence that has set the country back for so many decades,” Phee said.
ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSES
The Ethiopian government’s two-year conflict with forces in the northern Tigray region ended last November when the two sides signed a deal. Both sides blamed each other for widely documented atrocities, including massacres, rape and detentions without trial.
The war pitted the federal government and its allies against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controlled Tigray.
Allegations of abuses, especially sexual violence, have persisted after the deal was signed, according to half a dozen humanitarians in the region.
Eritrean troops remain in several border areas while militia from neighboring Amhara region still occupy large swaths of territory in contested areas of western and southern Tigray, humanitarians said.
Their presence is seen as a key obstacle to the effective implementation of the deal.
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gizachew Muluneh, spokesperson for the Amhara regional government, said it and the people of Amhara were “always ready to co-operate with peace deal process and activities.”
Scarcity of cash and fuel are also hampering the delivery of food and medical supplies, humanitarians and diplomats said.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cameron Hudson, a U.S. Africa policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Blinken’s trip comes as Ethiopia is lobbying the United States to restore debt relief and financial assistance as Ethiopia also deepens conversations with China.
“I think it’s the right moment to continue the diplomacy. I don’t think it’s the right moment to kind of declare mission accomplished in Ethiopia,” Hudson said.
While in Addis Ababa, Blinken will also meet with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The travel to Niger comes at a critical time for West Africa, where groups linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to carry out routine attacks on civilians and the military despite costly interventions from international forces.
What began as a Mali-based insurgency in 2012 has since ballooned into a regional network of competing Islamist groups that operate across large areas of landlocked Niger, Burkina Faso and beyond.
The violence has killed thousands and displaced millions.
Blinken will meet President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou in Niamey to discuss diplomacy, democracy, development and defense, Price said.
(This story has been corrected to fix Blinken’s travel date in the headline and paragraph 1)
Reporting By Paul Grant; Editing by Doina Chiacu
Somaliland’s Berbera Economic Zone opens with DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone model
Source: Hiiraan Online, Wednesday March 8, 2023
Hargeisa (HOL) – DP World, in partnership with the Government of Somaliland, has launched the Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ), which is set to become a major trade hub in the Horn of Africa alongside the Port of Berbera. Based on the model of DP World’s highly successful Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, the BEZ aims to attract investment and create jobs in Somaliland by offering a business-friendly environment. This includes a new Special Economic Zone Law, Special Economic Zone Companies Law, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, as well as a one-stop shop for all registration and licensing requirements, modern offices, warehousing, and serviced land plots.
“The dynamics of global trade are changing, and there is a growing need for trade infrastructure, such as economic zones, with easy and fast access to international shipping. The integration of Berbera port with the new Economic Zone is a great example of this, making Berbera a world-class trading ecosystem, now and for the future,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.
DP World has already signed an agreement with UAE-based food company IFFCO to develop a 300,000 square feet edible oil packing plant in the BEZ. A dozen more companies operating across various sectors have already registered. The BEZ is 15 km from the Port of Berbera, along the Berbera to Wajaale road, which connects to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. This integrated maritime, logistics and industrial hub will serve the Horn of Africa, a region with more than 140 million people.
The opening of the BEZ follows the inauguration of the new container terminal at the Port of Berbera in June 2021. DP World’s vision for Berbera is to develop it into a trade hub, taking advantage of its strategic location along one of the busiest sea routes in the world and access to the vast hinterland in the region, including Ethiopia.
The BEZ’s Master Plan covers more than 1,200 hectares and will be expanded over time as demand grows. With phase one now open, it offers serviced land plots for the construction of company facilities, 10,000 square meters of pre-built warehouses, build-to-suit facilities, open yard storage, a common user warehouse which DP World will operate to handle customers’ cargo, as well as office space with end-to-end IT services.
The Berbera Port is a cornerstone of the economy. As a result of the expansion, it is expected to facilitate trade equivalent to approximately 27% of Somaliland’s GDP and 75% of regional trade by 2035. The BEZ will make trade easier for businesses in Somaliland and the wider Horn of Africa, benefiting sectors such as exporters, importers, and processors of livestock, agricultural and perishable goods, textiles, and construction materials.
“This is another proud and historic moment for Somaliland and its people. After the inauguration of the container terminal at the Port of Berbera, and now with the economic zone open for business, we are taking a major leap forward in realizing our vision to establish Berbera as an integrated, regional trade gateway, which will be a key driver of economic growth, achieved through increased trade flows, foreign investment, and job creation,” said Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, at the opening event.
“Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”: An Extraordinary Learning Tool for African and European Leaders
“Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”: An Extraordinary Learning Tool for African and European Leaders
Source: SIPRI February 6, 2023
The recently published book “Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”, edited by ACET collaborators Chux Daniels, Benedikt Erforth, and Chloe Teevan, provides a unique set of expert insights and thoughtful perspectives that are immensely useful for African and global policymakers in understanding innovation and digital opportunities for driving economic transformation. It is the first edited collection on the topic of Africa’s economic and digital transformation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its release is well-timed at a moment when the international community re-engages on digital development in a world reframed by geopolitical evolutions, technological advances, and a greater appreciation for innovation and digital opportunities.
At ACET, we believe that economic growth is not enough, as the continent needs economic transformation. We define economic transformation through the framework of growth with DEPTH: Diversification, Exports, Productivity, Technology, and Human wellbeing. While the thirty-seven contributing authors of Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation did not write their submissions with the DEPTH framework in mind, their work does support the framework’s applicability in the digital sphere. The reader can better appreciate the need for diversification in the chapter by El Aynaoui, Jaïdi, and Zaoui on digitalization and industrialization (chapter 7); and the importance of SMEs to digitally transform if they are to reap the benefits of regional trade (exports) within the framework of the AfCFTA as outlined by Fafunwa and Odufuwa (chapter 5).
Productivity is a key theme in Banga’s chapter on African labor markets (chapter 6), where she explores the potential for digital technologies to contribute to productivity gains across agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Technological upgrading is naturally addressed in numerous chapters such as those by Bashir and Daniels on digital skills (chapter 13). The chapters on additional frontier issues are particularly insightful. These include the chapter on the biotech revolution by Pauwels and Tilmes (chapter 4) and the chapter on digital water by Ashraf (chapter 8). These chapters highlight policy issues and opportunities “over the horizon” that policymakers should be thinking about now, particularly regarding regulatory frameworks and incentivizing policy.
Finally, there is a welcome strong emphasis on human well-being throughout the book. The concluding chapters on gender provide a fitting and optimistic closing. The chapter on feminist digital development (chapter 15) by Sladkova and Bashir highlights gaps in partnership approaches between Europe and Africa, while the final chapter on female entrepreneurs (chapter 16) by Beleyi highlights the importance of creating networks and ecosystems for female innovators that are fit for purpose.
The book very helpfully places traditional international development themes in a digital context, while also addressing policy issues that are new to African and European policymakers. For example, the discussion of data protection (chapter 10) by Erforth and Martin-Shields emphasizes that Kenya only enacted a data protection law in 2019, drawing on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR). But as a new regulation, it faces familiar challenges such as public buy-in, uncertain transition frameworks, and a lack of public institutional support for implementation.
Likewise, the chapter on digital sovereignty (chapter 2) by Fritzsche and Spoiala and the chapter on Chinese surveillance in Africa (chapter 3) by Jili are must-reads for policymakers. Since most African governments are highly dependent on non-African actors for connectivity, devices, and services, stakeholders need to be cognizant of, and better understand, the interplay of digital development and digital sovereignty.
As the global economy continues to struggle with food and energy supply challenges, rising interest rates, and increasing trade fragmentation, Africa can benefit from continuing its digital transformation. But this will require a stronger focus by African policymakers, an enhanced role for the African Union, and well-considered global partnerships, including with Europe. The EU is attempting to build digital partnerships through initiatives such as the Global Gateway and the Digital for Development Hub, which should be welcomed, but require informed dialogue.
The editors of “Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation” should be commended for bringing together authors around the themes of politics, policies, and people, which at the same time helps informs frameworks such as ACET’s “Growth with DEPTH”. Its true value is in providing policymakers in Africa, Europe, and beyond with a window to future digital policy issues and helping them understand how to benefit from well-considered partnerships that are also fraught with complexity.
The book can be an extraordinary learning tool for African leaders. It can inform collective positions and a common African voice which are needed for effective Europe-Africa digital partnership. Through its insights African and European leaders can strive for mutually beneficial impact while supporting Africa’s digital and economic transformation
After 30 years of fighting, hunger the last straw for Horn of Africa’s most vulnerable: UNHCR
Source: UN, 1 March 2023
After 30 years of fighting, hunger the last straw for Horn of Africa’s most vulnerable: UNHCR
Survivors of decades of conflict in the Horn of Africa have told the UN how hunger and drought have finally uprooted them from their homes.
To help 3.3 million people who’ve been displaced in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, issued an urgent appeal this week for $137 million.
And although famine was narrowly prevented last year, the humanitarian outlook for 2023 is extremely uncertain, as the agency’s Olga Sarrado tells UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva
Source: The Royal United Services Institute published in February 2023 a study titled “On Shifting Ground: An Appraisal of UK Engagement in Ethiopia” by Simon Rynn.
The paper looks at UK engagement in Ethiopia from 2015 to the present, concluding that London has made some limited progress on aspects of its foreign policy agenda in the country. But the UK has been constrained by smaller and unpredictable budgets, the unplanned merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, the absence of a detailed strategy for Ethiopia, and weaknesses with leadership. The overriding limiting factor for UK action in Ethiopia in recent years has, however, been a worsening operating context since a change in Ethiopia’s leadership in 2018.
31 jan. 2023 — Global growth is expected to slow from 3.4 percent in 2022, to 2.9 percent in 2023, then rebound to 3.1 percent in 2024. For advanced economies
Source: The Stimson Center published in February 2023 a report titled “Renewable Energy & the United Nations: A Green Spark for Peace in South Sudan” by Eugene Chen, Flora McCrone, and David Mozersky.
The report looks at electricity access (7 percent of South Sudan’s population) in relationship to South Sudan’s conflict, which is exacerbated by an oil economy, and the options to harness renewable energy as a tool for peace and development.
Source: Reuters published on 27 February 2023 an article titled “Exclusive: Ethiopia Seeks to End U.N.-ordered Probe into Tigray War Abuses” by Emma Farge and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber.
Ethiopia has circulated a resolution at the 47-member UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for the Tigray inquiry to end six months early, which would also block publication of its findings and a final debate at the UNHRC.
US increases military support for Somalia against al-Shabab
Source: AP, Thursday March 2, 2023
By OMAR FARUK and CARA ANNA
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, right, sits on a military transport plane as it prepares to depart from Mogadishu, Somalia, Jan. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Cara Anna)
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — The United States is increasing its military assistance to Somalia as the country sees success in battling what the U.S. calls “the largest and most deadly al-Qaida network in the world.”
Sixty-one tons of weapons and ammunition arrived Tuesday in Mogadishu, the U.S. said in a statement of support for a historic Somalia-led military offensive against al-Shabab extremists that has recaptured dozens of communities since August.
In a separate joint statement with other leading security partners Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Britain, the U.S. said they will support Somalia’s efforts to manage weapons and ammunition that could allow the United Nations Security Council to lift its arms embargo on the country.
“A very productive meeting,” Somalia’s national security adviser, Hussein Sheikh-Ali, tweeted after the Washington gathering.
The government of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared “total war” last year on the thousands of al-Shabab extremists who for more than a decade have controlled parts of the country and carried out devastating attacks while exploiting clan divisions and extorting millions of dollars a year in their quest to impose an Islamic state.
The current offensive was sparked in part by local communities and militias driven to the brink by al-Shabab’s harsh taxation policies amid the country’s worst drought on record. Somalia’s government quickly lent support. Now neighbors Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti have agreed to a joint “search and destroy” military campaign.
Somalia is recovering from decades of conflict, and the federal government is eager to shed the country’s history as a failed state and attract investment. Under the current president, the government is cracking down on al-Shabab’s financial network and encouraging religious authorities to reject the extremist group’s propaganda — even enlisting a former deputy al-Shabab leader as Somalia’s current minister for religious affairs.
The U.S. has an estimated 450 military personnel in Somalia after President Joe Biden reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces. The U.S. supports Somali forces and a multinational African Union force with drone strikes, intelligence and training.
The increased support for the Somalia-led offensive comes as the AU force is set to withdraw from the country and hand over security responsibilities to Somalia by the end of 2024.
Source: Qatar to host six-party meeting on Somalia in coming months
Thursday March 2, 2023
Parties at the Washington meeting have agreed to reconvene in Doha “within the next three months for ongoing discussions and to take stock of progress.”
Qatar has renewed its commitment to peace in Somalia during a six-party meeting held in the United States to tackle counterterrorism in the African country, confirming a follow -up meeting in Doha in the coming months.
In a statement, the US State Department said the meeting on Tuesday dealt with “Somalia’s security, state-building, development, and humanitarian priorities.”
The participants at the meeting included Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
“They discussed how to better support Somalia’s fight against Al-Shabaab and prepare for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia drawdown, and agreed to strengthen coordination of international security assistance,” the State Department statement read.
Translating to ‘The Youth’ in Arabic, Al Shabaab first emerged as the extremist youth wing of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, which ruled Mogadishu in 2006 before Ethiopian forces drove them out.
Qatar condemns attack in Somalia as death toll rises to 100
Al-Shabaab holds connections to other militant groups in Africa, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is based in the Sahara desert.
The group seeks to overthrow the central government of Somalia and install its own system of governance based on a strict application of Islamic law, also known as sharia.
In October, the US military claimed to have killed Abdullahi Nadir, a group leader of the militant Al-Shabaab.
Parties at the Washington meeting agreed to reconvene in Doha “within the next three months for ongoing discussions and to take stock of progress.”
The parties said they are committed to supporting Mogadishu’s “efforts to meet the benchmarks on weapons and ammunition management” to enable the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to fully lift the arms controls on Somalia’s government.
During the height of the conflict in Somalia in 1992, the UNSC established an arms embargo on the country that was since amended to provide exemptions.
Currently, the embargo is set to last until 17 November this year.
Representatives at the Washington meeting also voiced backing for political reconciliation in Somalia as well as steps to finalise the constitution.
“The partners encourage and support Somalia’s National Consultative Council (NCC) process in promoting political reconciliation and to delineate the roles and responsibilities of levels of government in Somalia, including by finalising the constitution,” the statement read.
Officials also tapped into the ongoing conflict between forces from Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland and Dhulbahante militia in the Somali city of Lascaanood.
“The partners expressed concern about the ongoing conflict in and around Lascanood and called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire, de-escalate, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue,” the joint communique read.
Meanwhile, the worsening drought in Somalia has been a key issue of concern and has driven out thousands to neighbouring areas.
“They welcomed support along with international actors to meet the immediate needs of the Somali people, while also strengthening Somalia’s ability to withstand future climate shocks,” the parties said.
Last year, the UN said that more than 755,000 people have been internally displaced in Somalia because of the country’s severe drought, raising the total to one million since January 2021.
The dry season is the worst in 40 years, with more fears over a rise in famine and displacement.
In April last year, Qatar announced plans to invest $1.5 million as part of an emergency response and “resilience-building” in Somalia
Somalia’s neighbors to send additional troops to fight Al-Shabab
Source: VOA, Harun Maruf
Thursday March 2, 2023
FILE – Security patrol the streets during fighting between al-Shabab extremists and soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 21, 2023. Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya have agreed to send additional troops to support Somali forces against al-Shabab, a Somali official said March 1, 2023.
WASHINGTON — The three neighboring countries of Somalia are to send new troops to support Somali forces against al-Shabab in the next phase of military operations, the national security adviser for the Somali president said.
In an interview with VOA’s Somali Service on Wednesday, Hussein Sheikh-Ali said Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya will be sending troops in addition to the soldiers they already have serving as part of the African Transitional Mission in Somalia, or ATMIS. He said the new troops will not be part of the ATMIS mission.
“It is their plan to be coming inside Somalia within eight weeks,” he said.
Ali declined to give specific number of the incoming troops, citing “operational purposes.”
“Their role is to jointly plan and jointly operate under the command of the Somali security forces,” he said. “So, they will be fighting against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces. That is the plan.”
The leaders of the three countries attended a summit hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on February 1 in Mogadishu. In a communique at the time, they said they have agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines.
“The time-sensitive campaign will prevent any future infiltrating elements into the wider region,” the communique read.
Asked why the military operations against al-Shabab have paused recently, Ali said the government is concluding the first phase of the operations.
“It is a calm before the storm,” he said. “We are preparing the second phase … and with the support of the extra non-ATMIS forces from our neighboring countries joining the fight, it is a planning time, that’s why it looks it is quiet.”
He said the objective of the second phase is to be able to take over “every village and town” that al-Shabab is now controlling.
Matt Bryden, a Horn of Africa regional security expert, said the intervention of additional, non-ATMIS forces “could certainly accelerate efforts to degrade and defeat” al-Shabab.
But, he added, “Since the FGS [Federal Government of Somalia] and partners have telegraphed their intentions, al-Shabab is likely to disperse its fighters and avoid direct military engagements as far as possible.”
Bryden warned that the success of the second phase offensive will hinge on two key considerations.
“First, planning,” he said. “Counterinsurgency operations should be intelligence-led, with clearly defined objectives such as dismantling specific al-Shabab bases and neutralizing high-value jihadist leaders.”
The second factor is the availability of holding forces to secure newly recovered territory after the clearing forces have passed through, he said.
“Recent FGS operations against al-Shabab in central Somalia have highlighted the absence of capable holding forces,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Somali government has received a boost in its quest to have the decades-old weapons embargo lifted.
This week, representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — five countries that provide security assistance to Somalia — met in Washington, D.C., with Somali officials.
In a statement, the countries said they are committed to supporting Somalia’s effort to meet benchmarks on weapons and ammunition management with a view to “fully lift” the arms embargo by the United Nations.
Ali, who attended the meeting, said that to have the backing of the five countries was “significant.”
“It was the first time that two Security Council members have openly came up supporting Somalia in lifting arms embargo,” he said.
“And it’s a very promising five important countries with us to help achieve all the benchmarks that is required for Somalia to achieve before November this year, but also to lobby for Somalia politically within the Security Council.”
The U.N. weapons embargo was imposed in 1992 at the height of the civil war in Somalia. In 2013, the U.N. slightly eased the embargo allowing the government to buy light weapons.
Bryden, who previously served as the coordinator for the United Nations Monitoring for Somalia, said lifting the embargo would not alter Somali government access to military hardware.
“Because it is already exempt from many aspects of the embargo or is simply required to notify the U.N. Security Council of arms imports,” he said.
“But since the FGS does not directly control any of Somalia’s land borders or its major ports, other than Mogadishu, lifting the embargo would potentially make it easier for non-state actors, as well as Somalia’s federal member states, to obtain arms and ammunition with no fear of consequences.”
Some might say that this is already the case, but it is hard to see how lifting the arms embargo would improve this situation, Bryden added.
This week, the United States delivered the second shipment of weapons to Somalia this year. The 61 tons of AK-47, heavy machine guns, and ammunition arrived off two U.S. Airforce C-17 aircraft at Mogadishu airport.
On January 8, the U.S. announced the donation of $9 million of heavy weapons, equipment including support and construction vehicles, explosive ordinance disposal kits, medical supplies, and maintenance equipment for vehicles and weapons, according to the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM.
South Sudan’s president calls on refugees to return home
Source: AP, By DENG MACHOLtoday
File – After walking for days, a refugee family arrives in Yida, South Sudan, Feb. 20, 2018. South Sudan’s president on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, urged the country’s more than 2 million refugees to return home in his first meeting with displaced people since civil war erupted almost a decade ago. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick, file)
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan’s president has urged the country’s more than 2 million refugees to return home in his first meeting with displaced people since civil war erupted almost a decade ago.
President Salva Kiir’s appeal on Wednesday came as the country prepares to hold its first elections since gaining independence from Sudan in 2011. South Sudan’s delayed elections are set to take place in December 2024.
South Sudan is still recovering from the five-year civil war that erupted in late 2013, killed hundreds of thousands of people and ended with a peace agreement in 2018. For a while, fleeing South Sudanese formed the world’s largest refugee camp in neighboring Uganda.
The president’s meeting came two weeks after the visiting Pope Francis met with displaced South Sudanese in the capital, Juba, and appealed for lasting peace.
“With peace implementation moving towards the final phase where elections will end the transitional period, repatriating our people from the camps in neighboring countries should top our agenda,” Kiir said.
Horn of Africa drought trends said worse than in 2011 famine
Source: AP, Thursday February 23, 2023
By Cara Anna
Saito Ene Ruka, right, who said he has lost 100 cows due to drought, and his neighbour Kesoi Ole Tingoe, left, who said she lost 40 cows, walk past animal carcasses at Ilangeruani village, near Lake Magadi, in Kenya, on Nov. 9, 2022. Trends in a historic Horn of Africa drought are now worse than they were during a the 2011 drought in which at least a quarter-million people died, a climate center said Wednesday. The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center said below-normal rainfall is expected in the rainy season over the next three months. BRIAN INGANGA, FILE / AP PHOTO
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Trends in a historic Horn of Africa drought are now worse than they were during the 2011 drought in which at least a quarter-million people died, a climate center said Wednesday.
The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center said below-normal rainfall is expected in the rainy season over the next three months.
“This could be the sixth failed consecutive rainfall season” in the region that includes Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the center said
The drought, the longest on record in Somalia, has lasted almost three years, and tens of thousands of people are said to have died. More than 1 million people have been displaced in Somalia alone, according to the United Nations.
Last month, the U.N. resident coordinator in Somalia warned that excess deaths in Somalia will “almost certainly” surpass those of the famine declared in the country in 2011.
Close to 23 million people are thought to be highly food insecure in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, according to a food security working group chaired by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
Already, 11 million livestock that are essential to many families’ health and wealth have died, Wednesday’s statement said. Many people affected across the region are pastoralists or farmers who have watched crops wither and water sources run dry.
The war in Ukraine has affected the humanitarian response as traditional donors in Europe divert funding to the crisis closer to home. The head of IGAD, Workneh Gebeyehu, urged governments and partners to act “before it’s too late.”
The IGAD climate center is a designated regional climate center by the World Meteorological Organization.
UAE, Somalia leaders discuss ways to bolster bilateral ties at IDEX
Source: WAM, Thursday February 23, 2023
Sheikh Mohamed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud hold talks on the sidelines of IDEX 2023 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on Wednesday. WAM
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Wednesday met Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.
The two leaders discussed ongoing relations between the two nations and areas for further cooperation, especially with regard to enhancing development and stability in Somalia.
The meeting took place at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2023), which is being held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
Sheikh Mohamed welcomed the visit of the Somali president and reaffirmed the UAE’s keenness to support efforts aimed at ensuring peace and prosperity for Somalia and its people.
Following the meeting, the UAE President toured a number of pavilions of national and international companies participating at IDEX and was briefed on some of the latest innovations and technology in the defence industry.
During the tour, President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed was accompanied by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Sheikh Mohamed Bin Hamad Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Advisor for Special Affairs in the Presidential Court; and Staff Lt. General Engineer Issa Saif Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces.
Security council members urge Somalia to take action on women’s safety amidst political instability
Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday February 23, 2023
“We are deeply alarmed by the increases in sexual and gender-based violence”
Mogadishu (HOL) – Representatives from Malta, Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Japan, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom made a bold commitment on Wednesday to prioritize Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) principles.
The ten nations joined forces to put the WPS agenda at the forefront during their terms on the Security Council. This commitment comes as the council met to discuss the dire situation in Somalia, where Al-Shabaab wreaks havoc amidst a backdrop of drought and political instability. The group noted that 80% of the country’s displaced population is women and children, and they face increased violence and inequality risks
The joint statement urged Somalia to take action to create a safe environment for women and girls and a more gender-inclusive humanitarian response. They also call for sexual and gender-based violence prevention to be integrated into Somalia’s drought response and famine prevention plan.
The Security Council members are deeply concerned about the surge in sexual and gender-based violence in Somalia and are calling for swift action against all perpetrators. They also emphasize the importance of women’s participation in formal decision-making forums and political processes to achieve lasting peace and stability.
Despite some encouraging signs, such as the election of Sadiya Yasin Haji Samatar as the first woman to hold the post of First Deputy Speaker, women in political positions still face harassment and violence. The representatives are urging women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and representation in all areas of society.
The signatories welcome the launch of the Somalia Action Plan to implement the Somali Women’s Charter, the National Action Plan on Security Council Resolution 1325, and the Ministry of Defence’s human rights policy. They are encouraging the Federal Government of Somalia to ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and strengthen the legislative framework to protect women and girls against sexual and gender-based violence.
US embassy delegation meets with Somaliland officials on Las Anod violence and elections.
Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday February 23, 2023
Hargeisa (HOL) – A delegation from the US Embassy in Mogadishu, led by Chargé d’Affaires Tim Trenkle, arrived in Hargeisa on Thursday to meet with Somaliland government officials, civil society representatives, and youth leaders.
Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi received the delegation, and meetings were held to discuss security, prosperity, and democracy in the region.
The Chargé d’Affaires reiterated the United States and international community’s call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire in Las Anod and condemned the tragic loss of life and violence.
The delegation also discussed efforts toward a consensus-based electoral process and the timely conduct of elections.
They also met with diverse political, civil society, and youth leaders to discuss shared priorities, including democratic participation and inclusion.
Members of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network and alumni of the YALI Regional Leadership Center shared how the initiative contributes to youth and community development in Somaliland.
On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that clashes between security forces and clan leaders in Las Anod, in northern Somalia, have left 150 people dead and over 600 others wounded since February 6.
Jurg Eglin, head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia, called for quick and unimpeded humanitarian access to victims of violence which started on February 6.
Somalia’s FM says fighting terrorism is common objective of Ethiopia, Somalia
Source: Ethiopian News Agency, Tuesday February 21,
Addis Ababa (ENA) February 19/2023 The fight against terrorism is one of the common objectives of Ethiopia and Somalia, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Somalia, Abshir Omar said.
Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abshir Omar, who is in Addis Ababa for the 36th African Union Summit, told ENA that Ethiopia and Somalia have common objective in the fight against terrorists.
“Effective fighting with terrorists is a common objection for Ethiopia and Somalia. We are both on the same line and of that front and that is a common enemy for our both countries, both for the people in Ethiopia and Somalia.”
He recalled the two heads of states have met in Mogadishu recently, together with the other front line states to discuss on ways to work together in fighting terrorism which is a threat to all of the neighboring countries as the terrorists are not confined to only Somalia because they have the ability to cross national borders.
In that regard, the leaders from the front line states, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, have to agree on a common front to defeat that enemy, the minister added.
Noting the relation between Ethiopia and Somalia is solid he said, “I can describe the relations that exists between Ethiopia and Somalia is the best relation that the governments, of the two countries can have now. It is in best stage and level ever before.”
“We have quite a number of common factors that are keeping us together. We all have and working together to achieve those mutual factors which are beneficial to our people,” Omar explained.
The minister said Ethiopia and Somalia have been working in partnership in multifaceted areas noting that the two countries also share various historical and cultural values.
The countries are working with commitment to further intensify the existing political, economic and social cooperation, he added.
He also mentioned the efforts being exerted by the government of Ethiopia to help Somalia in the fight against terrorism and bring peace in the country.
Moreover, the minister stressed the need to further strengthen integration between the two countries, which is vital for the mutual benefit of both countries.
Recall the leaders of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia met in the Somali capital to discuss on the ongoing fight against al-Shabab militants earlier this month.