Latest News Regarding

Horn of Africa


Somalia, Sweden ink MoU on diplomatic staff training

Somalia, Sweden ink MoU on diplomatic staff training

Source: Hiiraan Online, Monday December 2, 2019

MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somali diplomats will benefit from capacity development and training from the Swedish government’ peace and security agency Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) following a memorandum of understanding between the two countries.

The MoU signed Sunday between Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Isse Awad and Swedish ambassador to Somalia Staffan Tilander will see officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs acquire skills and knowledge from the FBA.

The Ministry of Affairs said in a statement the FBA will conduct training and research programmes in Somalia on peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

The training will be conducted at the Somali Diplomatic Institute which will be opened today by President Mohamed Farmaajo in Mogadishu.

The Director General of FBA Mr. Sven-Eric Söder signed the memorandum to promote a multidimensional strategic partnership between the two friendly countries.

According to information on its website, the FBA offers training and advice and conduct research in order to strengthen peacebuilding and statebuilding, and we grant funds to civil society organizations working with peace and security.

Going climate-neutral: expert-group ewxommendations to help energy-intensivemindustries contribute to the EU’s 2050 target

PRESS RELEASE28 November 2019

Going climate-neutral: expert-group recommendations to help energy-intensivemindustries contribute to the EU’s 2050 target

Source: EU, 28 Novemebr 2019

Today, the Commission publishes recommendations by a group of experts on how to transform the EU’s energy-intensive industries so they help reach EU-wide objectives for a circular and climate-neutral economy by 2050.


What is Driving Ethiopia’s Ethnic Conflicts?

What is Driving Ethiopia’s Ethnic Conflicts?

Source: The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 25 November 2019
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 25 November 2019 a report titled “What Is Driving Ethiopia’s Ethnic Conflicts?” by Semir Yusuf, ISS Addis Ababa.

The author concludes that decades of exclusivist political arrangements have contributed to a steady rise in ethnic consciousness, with the state and ruling party becoming increasingly incoherent. This has increased ethnic disagreement.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) welcomes Somalia’s ratification of the Kampala Convention

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) welcomes Somalia’s ratification of the Kampala Convention

Source: UNHCR, Thursday November 28, 2019

A family displaced within Somalia by drought sits beside a makeshift shelter in Wajaale district, June 2017.  © UNHCR/Mustafa Saeed

Somalia’s ratification of a key convention to protect internally displaced people in Africa is a landmark achievement for the country and the African continent, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said today.

The African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention, was signed on 26 November 2019 by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, “Farmaajo”, after being passed with a near-unanimous vote by parliament last week. Somalia is the 30th African Union Member State to ratify the convention since 2009.

“The ratification of the Kampala Convention cements the Government’s commitment to the millions of highly vulnerable internally displaced people living in Somalia, and to finding solutions for the issue of displacement,” said UNHCR Somalia Representative, Johann Siffointe. “Today, Somalia serves as a regional model for others to follow, and UNHCR is eager to continue supporting the government in implementing its treaty obligations.”

The move is a significant milestone for Somalia, which has the fourth largest population of internally displaced people in the world, estimated at over 2.6 million individuals. In 2019 alone, over 665,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to floods, conflict and drought. Serious protection challenges faced by IDPs include inadequate shelter, poor sanitation, insecurity, threats of evictions and gender-based violence.

The Kampala Convention was adopted in 2009 by Africa’s 55 states. It is the world’s first and only regional legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of IDPs, who often face heightened risks, violations and sexual violence because of their displacement, while they struggle to access their rights and basic protection. They often remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Kenya clears direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi, eases visa restrictions

Kenya clears direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi, eases visa restrictions

Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday November 28, 2019

NAIROBI (HOL) – Kenya has cleared flights from Mogadishu to fly directly into Nairobi but instructed that flights from other parts of Somalia must detour to Wajir for clearance.

A letter from the Kenya’s Foreign Affairs dated November 25 indicates Kenya had fully implemented ‘its part of the issues agreed upon’ by President Mohamed Farmaajo and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta during a meeting mid this month.

Flights from Mogadishu may fly direct to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Aiports both in Nairobi, the letter reads in part. However, flights originating from other aerodromes in Somalia will have to route to via Wajir for security checks.

On visa clearance, Kenya said diplomatic and service passport holders on official engagements will be issued with ‘visas on arrival as long as they have documentary evidence’.

Parliamentarians whose list is already provided will continue to be issued with visas on arrival, the statement adds.

But diplomatic and service passport holder not on official engagements will be required to apply for visas before commencing their journey to Kenya. The same applies for ordinary passport holders.

Kenya had suspended direct lights to Nairobi in March and imposed strict visa restrictions on Somalis in March following a diplomatic fall-out between the two countries.

Somalia: Extending UN arms ban hinders war on terror

Somalia: Extending UN arms ban hinders war on terror

Source: AA Agency, Nour Gelle Gedi
Thursday November 28, 2019

Al-Shabab fighters conduct a military exercise in northern Mogadishu, Somalia, on Aug. 23, 2010. Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP file
Al-Shabab fighters conduct a military exercise in northern Mogadishu, Somalia, on Aug. 23, 2010. Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP file

MOGADISHU – A Somali senior official warned that a UN Security Council resolution earlier this month to extend an arms embargo on the country would prolong the survival of terrorist organizations in the Horn of Africa region.The extension of arms embargo on Mogadishu would support the two terrorist organizations of al-Shabaab and

Daesh/ISIS in Somalia and “undermine the war against them [terrorists],” despite governmental and African efforts to defeat them, National Security Adviser Abdisaid Mohamed Ali told Anadolu Agency.

On Nov. 15, the UN Security Council passed a resolution extending more than a decade-long arms embargo on Somalia by one year, saying the move was aimed at preventing al-Shabaab from acquiring arms, chemicals and bomb-making components.

While Russia, China and Equatorial Guinea were against the extension of the arms embargo, Somalia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Abukar Osman has also criticized the arms embargo, telling local media that it is outdated and “falls short of taking into account Somalia’s positive new reality on the ground”.

“Everyday, the operations of al-Shabaab terrorist movement has been killing our heroes of the security forces, because of their [security forces’] lack of military capabilities,” said Ali.

The embargo, he added, “is not compatible with [the rights of] an internationally recognized state”.

“Since Somalia is a legitimate state, it has the right to import arms to strengthen the capabilities of its military forces to defend its people, security and borders, but unfortunately the Security Council resolution prevented that, which enables terrorists to continue in their activities, threatening the Horn of Africa,” he noted.

The extension of the embargo, he continued, not only affects the capabilities of the security forces, but also economically and socially depletes Somalia, posing additional burdens on the Somali society — which has been looking forward to restoring stability since the collapse of the central government in 1991″.

Arab, African efforts to lift arms embargo on Somalia

The Somali official added that there have been governmental efforts to convince the Security Council to lift the arms embargo to enable the government to perform its duty in defending its people and land.He also referred to Arab and African demands to lift the embargo, including that of the Arab League, African Union, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“The Somali government will keep its efforts in cooperation with its friends in the international community in order to activate the file of lifting the embargo once again,” he added.

Kenya, al-Shabaab movement

Although the al-Shabaab rebel movement has been carrying out armed attacks against the Somali forces as well as the African peacekeepers, the Somali government refuses to include the group on the international list of terrorist organizations.

On Aug. 28, the UN Security Council also rejected a draft resolution submitted by Kenya, Somalia’s neighbor, to include the organization on the list.

Ali described the draft resolution proposed by Nairobi a “punishment to Somalia at all levels”.

“Al-Shabaab is a terrorist organization, where the Security Council has already passed resolution 751 to militarily and economically fight against it, and this is enough to eradicate its roots,” he said.

But he added that the project to include al-Shabaab in the international list of terrorism is a “hostile step against Somalia behind which Kenya stands”.

“Kenya has sought to pass the project not to defeat terrorism, but because it has hidden agendas against Somalia, and wants to punish the Somali people, under the pretext of fighting against the terrorist movement,” he said.

If Kenya was serious in this matter, it should have consulted with Somalia, he added.

Somalia sought hindering this project to include the al-Shabaab movement on the international terror list, considering that, it would put the Somali traders at risk, possibly blacklisting them or reducing the investment flows in the country, he added.

Drying up financial sources of al-Shabaab movement

On whether the drying up of the financial sources of al-Shabaab movement requires international cooperation, Ali said: “The al-Shabaab movement is financed from two important sources, one internal and the other external”.

“The government should dry up internal [financial] sources in accordance with local laws,” he added.

He noted that “security operations launched by government forces against areas under al-Shabaab’s control come as part of the government’s efforts to dry up the sources of the movement’s income.”

The organization loses a source o

Water War between Egypt and Ethiopia?

Water War between Egypt and Ethiopia?

Source: Foreign Policy published on 15 November 2019
Foreign Policy published on 15 November 2019 a commentary titled “River of the Dammed” by Imad K. Harb, Arab Center in Washington.

The author argues there is a possibility of war between Egypt and Ethiopia over allocation of water as Ethiopia fills the reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. His principal solution for avoiding war is for Ethiopia to capitulate to Egypt’s position on the main point of contention. In other words, Ethiopia should guarantee irrespective of annual rainfall that 40 billion cubic meters of water flows down the Blue Nile each year. Not much of a compromise here!

Ending Wars in Sudan

Ending Wars in Sudan

Source: The Institute for Security Studies published on 19 November 2019

The Institute for Security Studies published on 19 November 2019 a report titled “Negotiations to End All Wars in Sudan.”

The report argues that the most immediate challenge to ensuring peace in Sudan is the lack of trust among major stakeholders, who do not believe their counterparts are negotiating in good faith. African Union mediators should undertake confidence-building measures that address the immediate challenge the peace process is facing, namely the lack of trust among the conflicting parties.


How Somaliland Combats Al-Shabaab

How Somaliland Combats Al-Shabaab

Source: The November 2019 issue of CTC Sentinel
The November 2019 issue of CTC Sentinel contains an article titled “How Somaliland Combats al-Shabaab” by Michael Horton, Jamestown Foundation.

Al-Shabaab has largely failed to establish itself in Somaliland. The government has denied al-Shabaab the operational space it requires through the implementation of a virtuous circle that builds on local buy-in and uses human intellignece as a force multiplier. At the same time, Somaliland faces a formidible foe that is increasingly active along its border with Puntland where this virtuous circle is under increasing strain.

Ethiopia’s Sidama vote overwhelmingly for independence

Ethiopia’s Sidama vote overwhelmingly for independence

Source: DW, Sunday November 24, 2019

Ethiopia’s Sidama people have voted in favor of autonomous rule by a huge margin. The result may inspire other groups to push for autonomy in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

Residents of Ethiopia’s Sidama zone voted in favor of a new federal region, with about 98.5% choosing autonomous rule, the country’s electoral board said on Saturday. Voter turnout was 99.8%.

The official preliminary results of a referendum held on Wednesday were released by the deputy head of the National Electoral Board, Wubshet Ayele, in the regional capital, Hawassa, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Addis Ababa.

“The November 20 polls was peaceful and didn’t have major logistical challenges, although in some places there were larger than projected queues of voters,” Ayele said.By creating their own federal region, Sidamas people — Ethiopia’s fifth most numerous ethnicity — hope to regain control of land resources, political representation as well as to reaffirm their cultural identity.

Long road to independence

Ethiopia’s Sidama zone, home to about 4 million residents, is part of the country’s Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), home to over 40 ethnic groups.

For decades the Sidama people have been longing to break free form the SNNPR and gain regional independence, a right enshrined in the constitution. But years of autocratic rule have failed to fulfill this provision.

Rapid change

Saturday’s result paves the way for Sidama to become Ethiopia’s 10th state, but it also could act as inspiration for other ethnic groups keen to carve out their own region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the move was an “expression of the democratization path Ethiopia has set out on.”

Ethiopia, once one of Africa’s most repressive nations, has been undergoing rapid changes since Abiy was appointed last year, promising to forge a more open society.

Last month, Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize for his political reforms and for making peace with Eritrea.

Somaliland parliament extends term for sixth time

Somaliland parliament extends term for sixth time

Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday November 24, 2019

MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somaliland House of Elders Saturday approved another term extension for itself and the Lower House adding to six the number of times the elections have been postponed since the current parliament was elected in 2005.

The vote which came amid political instability in the break-away region following tussles over the composition of the national electoral body (SNEC) added the Upper House (Guurti) three years and the House of Representatives (Lower House) two more years.The elections which have been postponed since 2010 were to be held in March 2019 but Somaliland National Electoral Commission (SNEC) announced it would postpone the exercise to a later date. It had cited pressure from the opposition and inadequate preparations.

The opposition party Waddani protested last week what it termed as attempts by the ruling party Kulmiye to appoint cronies to SNEC sending protestors to the streets.

In Saturday’s vote 70 out of the 71 Senators present voted to extend the life of parliament effectively postponing the elections to 2022.

From 2010 when the term of the current parliament lapsed, the House of Elders has utilized its powers to extend the elections a number of times despite local and international pressure.

The Constitutional Court ruled against extensions in 2015 but more extensions were to come in 2017 and 2018.

UN Security Council urges compromise to actualize 2020/21 universal vote in Somalia

UN Security Council urges compromise to actualize 2020/21 universal vote in Somalia

Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday November 26, 2019

NEW YORK (HOL) – The UN Security Council Monday called for concerted efforts to realise universal elections next year in Somalia.

Noting a one person-one-vote would be a ‘historic step’ in Somalia’s recovery, the 15 member UN body noted stakeholders to move in swiftly to finalise the preparation of the exercise which includes agreements on electoral model and passage of the elections law.
“The members of the Security Council noted that finalizing the election model would require a compromise and called on all key actors and institutions in Somalia to set aside their differences and engage constructively in discussions,” the Council said in a statement.

The sentiments follow a similar call by National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) chairperson Halima Ibrahim who called for allocation of resources and commitment by the political class.

“NIEC is requesting the Somali leaders treat the election (one person one vote) 2020/2021 as a constitutional obligation, and a national priority and provide the necessary political and financial support for NIEC to execute its mission of conducting one person one vote election in 2020,” Ibrahim said in her address to the Security Council Friday.

Parliament is yet to pass the Elections Law which is instrumental in providing the legal framework for the polls set for a year’s time. The Parliamentary adhoc committee on elections submitted its report to the speaker Sunday following public consultations on the electoral model.

Welcoming the National Independent Election Commission’s preparation for the elections, the Council also reiterated the need to create a safe and secure environment for elections.

Ex-presidents and MPs briefly barred from leaving Mogadishu for Beletweyne

Ex-presidents and MPs briefly barred from leaving Mogadishu for Beletweyne

Source: Hiiraan Online, Source: Hiiraan ÖSunday November 10, 2019

MOGADISHU (HOL) – Former Presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed were held back from traveling to Beletweyne for a couple of hours in Mogadishu Sunday.

The leaders and MPs allied to the newly formed Forum for National Parties who were scheduled to travel to Beletweyne to deliver humanitarian supplies at about 9am left the airport two hours later.MPs who spoke to the media said the opposition group was barred from travelling since Prime Minister Hassan Khaire was also scheduled to head to the floods ravaged town in central Somalia.

The Prime Minister was in Bardale town in Bay region Saturday where he met with families displaced by the current floods.

Former President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was blocked in September 22 from traveling to Kismayu to attend then inauguration of Jubbaland president Ahmed Madobe.

Relations between the opposition groups and the government has been rocky in recent months amid accusations by the opposition against the federal government of suppressing freedom of expression and movement.

Ethiopia: Moving beyond Ethnic Politics

Ethiopia: Moving beyond Ethnic Politics

Source: Foreign Policy posted on 8 November 2019
Foreign Policy posted on 8 November 2019 a commentary titled “Ethiopia Will Explode If It Doesn’t Move Beyond Ethnic-based Politics” by Addisu Lashitew, Brookings Institution.

The author argues that in order to keep the country together, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed needs to convince various ethnic groups that he and his new party represent all Ethiopians.

US calls for dialogue in resolving political disputes in Somalia

US calls for dialogue in resolving political disputes in Somalia

Source: Hiiraan, Thursday November 7, 2019

MOGADISHU (HOL) – The US has called for dialogue in resolving political disputes in Somalia in apparent reference to the developments in Puntland which saw the state parliament speaker kicked out in a vote Thursday.

A statement from the US embassy in Somalia noted there was need to resolve political difference in a peaceful manner.“The United States calls on the Federal Government of Somalia, all Federal Member States, and citizens of Somalia to work towards political reconciliation, cooperation, and unity through peaceful dialogue,” the statement read in part.

Noting that Somalia had made ‘impressive progress in key area’, the US ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto said he encouraged ‘all actors to come together and remain focused on working with Somalia’s international partners to bring peace, stability, and prosperity to Somalia.’

Though he did not make reference to the developments in Puntland Wednesday and today, the remarks pointed to concerns over what happened in Puntland.

Speaker Abdihakim Dhoobo Daared was ousted out in a vote Thursday by MPs in Puntland state parliament. Majority of the MPs-49 out of 53 voted in favour of the impeachment motion.

Trump ‘to open Ethiopia’s controversial dam’

Trump ‘to open Ethiopia’s controversial dam’

Source: BBC, Saturday November 9, 2019

Water flows through Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia on September 26, 2019. PHOTO | REUTERS 

US President Donald Trump has told ministers from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan that he will “cut the ribbon” at the inauguration of the controversial Grand Renaissance Dam when it is completed, an Ethiopian minister says.

Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s minister for water and irrigation, said Mr Trump made the comments during US-mediated talks aimed at solving a diplomatic row between the three countries over the sharing of the River Nile’s waters.

During the meeting, the three sides agreed to hold further talks in the US, and to reach a final settlement by 15 January.

Speaking to reporters (in Amharic) on Thursday, Mr Sileshi said:”President Trump sat with six people [two from each country] and tried to understand the situation. At the end of the discussion, he said he’d want to cut the ribbon with us on the inauguration.”
“But he stressed that we should avoid differences and work in cooperation. He’s given direction to the treasury secretary to lead discussions for smooth, quick and careful completion of the project.”

A joint statement issued on behalf of the three countries by the US Treasury Department did not mention any plans by the US president to open the dam.

The $4bn dam, the structure of which is expected to be finished next year, is at the heart of Ethiopia’s manufacturing and industrial dreams.

When fully operational, it is expected to be able to generate a massive 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

But Egypt fears the project will allow Ethiopia to control the flow of Africa’s longest river.

Somalia’s hopes of IGAD post dashed as Ethiopian becomes Executive Secretary

Somalia’s hopes of IGAD post dashed as Ethiopian becomes Executive Secretary

Source: Hiiraan Online, Saturday November 9, 2019

MOGADISHU (HOL) – Former Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu ascended to the helm of leadership at the regional bloc IGAD Thursday effectively sealing off hopes of long alienated members top on the list-Somalia.

Ethiopian Prime Minister who is the current chairman of the eight-member bloc appointed Dr. Gebeyehu late last month to take over from Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, a Kenyan who had hitherto been in the post since 2008.Maalim was appointed in June 2008 and later reappointed for another two four year term in 2012.
Somalia is the only member which has never held the position of Executive Secretary since the regional bloc was formed in 1986 and later reformed in 1996.

Both Somali and Djibouti had been eyeing the position of the Executive Secretary and chairman but reports indicated Kenya and Ethiopia which are also major financial contributors to the regional bloc planned to swap the positions.

Ethiopia has held the position of chairman since 2010 when then Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki handed over to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who later bequeathed his successor Desalegn Hailemariam. Current Premier Ahmed Abiy is the holder of the same position.

The ordinary heads of state summit will formally endorse Dr. Gebeyeh’s appointment. The same summit will also decide on who will take over the chairmanship of the regional bloc.

Should the supposed pact between Kenya and Ethiopia prevail, then most likely President Uhuru Kenyatta will become the new chair of the bloc.

There have been calls for reforms in the regional bloc to make it more robust and democratic in its functioning to allow chances for the rest of the members who include Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. Sudan held the position of Executive Secretary between 2000 and 2008.

Preventing Another Collapse in South-Sudan

Preventing Another Collapse in South-Sudan

Source: The International Crisis Group published on 4 November 2019
The International Crisis Group published on 4 November 2019 a paper titled “Deja Vu: Preventing Another Collapse in South Sudan.”

South Sudan is heading toward a crisis as it nears a 12 November deadline to form a government. President Salva Kiir is threatening to leave opposition leader and former vice president Riek Machar, who is demanding a delay to the new government, out of a new cabinet. Even if the two leaders agree to share power, disputes over security arrangements and state boundaries would poison the new administration, potentially leading to its collapse.

Is Kenya Fighting Al-Shabaab Terror with Terror?

Is Kenya Fighting Al-Shabaab Terror with Terror?

Source: The Washington Post published on 3 November 2019
The Washington Post published on 3 November 2019 an article titled “In Kenya’s Battle against Al-Shabaab, Locals Say the Military Is Fighting Terror with Terror” by Max Bearak.

Kenyan Somalis who live in northeastern Kenya near the border with Somalia claim that the Kenyan Defense Forces are using terrorist tactics to defeat the terrorist organization, al-Shabaab.

Architecture for a New Regional Order in the Red Sea

Architecture for a New Regional Order in the Red Sea

Source: Brookings published in November 2019
Brookings published in November 2019 a study titled “Toward a Red Sea Forum: The Gulf, the Horn of Africa, and Architecture for a New Regional Order” by Zach Vertin.

Freedom of navigation is at stake in the Red Sea as is the protection of maritime trade and control of a major strategic chokepoint, Bab el-Mandeb, at the south end. The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden represent the western flank of an emering theater of competition among global powers in the Indian Ocean. This paper surveys the changing Red Sea context and offers the rationale for a trans-regional governance framework.