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Horn of Africa
Galmudug leaders at loggerheads: President and Vice President clash over anti-al-Shabab operations
Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday September 7, 2023
Dhusamareb (HOL) – Galmudug Regional State Vice President Ali Dahir Eid has accused the regional President, Ahmed Abdi Kariye QoorQoor, of playing a role in the failure of anti-al-Shabab military operations in Galmudug State.
The accusation came after Vice President Eid suspended Galmudug Interior Minister Abdi Mohamed Diriye Wayel, alleging that he undermined the military operations. However, President Ahmed QoorQoor objected to this decision, stating that the Vice President’s action went against the Galmudug constitution and exceeded the powers granted to the Vice President by the constitution.
In an interview with an online channel on Wednesday night, Vice President Ali Dahir Eid claimed that both the minister and the President were united in sabotaging the efforts of President Hassan Sheikh to eradicate al-Shabab from Galmudug State.
“I assure you that Abdi’s suspension is in effect. President QoorQoor and the minister are aligned in undermining the fight against al-Shabaab and the efforts of President Hassan Sheikh,” said the Galmudug Vice President.
Ali Eid emphasized that the war against al-Shabaab should not be politicized, expressing his inability to tolerate the Minister of Internal Affairs focusing on matters unrelated to the fight against al-Shabaab.
This public conflict between Galmudug leaders is the first of its kind since their election to leadership positions after working together for three and a half years.
President Mohamud has been in Dhusamareb for over a month to oversee operations in the Galgadud region. However, the federal army-led military operation suffered a setback following a deadly al-Shabab attack on two military brigades.
Reports suggest that government troops retreated from El Dheer, Masagaway, Gal’ad, and Budbud in the Galgadud region following a deadly al-Shabab attack on soldiers in the village of Cosweyne last week.
The government has yet to confirm the number of casualties from the attack, but it is believed dozens were killed, with more than 160 injured and an unspecified number missing. A purported al-Shabab video shows a captured soldier.
Mohamud on Tuesday announced that his government arrested some of the officers who left the front lines, without specifying the number of officers in detention. But he said they will be brought to the government’s military court.
Source: The Washington Post published on 31 August 2023 an article titled “U.S. Presses Saudi Arabia on Reported Migrant Massacres” by Missy Ryan, Sarah Dadouch, John Hudson, and Karen DeYoung.
The Biden administration is pressing the government of Saudi Arabia to identify the military units along the Yemen/Saudi border alleged by Human Rights Watch to have killed Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers who were trying to enter the country. The United States has trained the maritime division of the Saudi border guards and the kingdom is the single largest customer for foreign military sales.
Source: The New York Times published on 3 September 2023 an article titled “Netanyahu Calls to Expel Unauthorized Immigrants After Eritreans Clash” by Patrick Kingsley and Abdi Latif Dahir.
Tens of thousands of Eritreans have made their way illegally to Israel seeking asylum. Some support the government in Eritrea while others oppose it. Clashes between these two groups broke out last week in Tel Aviv during an event organized by the Eritrean embassy to celebrate 30 years of independence from Ethiopia. Consequently, Israel called for the deportation of all unauthorized immigrants from the country.
World experiencing era of climate migration, Africa in greatest danger, says IOM head
Source: Shiawaves, , Sunday September 3, 2023
The director general-elect of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) called for urgent solutions to address climate change and human mobility challenges because the world has entered “the era of climate migration.”
Amy Pope said in a statement on Friday that urgent solutions are needed to address climate change and human mobility on continental scale.
“African countries are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, experiencing the dire impacts of the climate crisis including drought, flooding, extreme weather temperatures, rising sea levels,” it said, adding that without a climate action plan, up to 105 million people are feared to become internal migrants by 2023 in Africa alone.
Sudan conflict: Air strike on Khartoum kills at least 20
Source: BBC, Monday September 4, 2023
An army air strike on the Sudanese capital has killed at least 20 people, including two children, activists say.
Many of the victims of the attack, in the Kalakla al-Qubba neighbourhood of south-west Khartoum, have been buried in the rubble, they said.
Artillery and rocket fire have been reported in several areas on Sunday.
The army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been fighting for control of Khartoum since April. Hundreds have been killed.
The country’s health ministry says more than 1,100 people have died across the country, but the real numbers are likely to be much higher.
Many civilians have been caught in the crossfire.
Roughly 2.2 million people have been displaced within Sudan and more than half a million are sheltering in neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations.
The conflict began after army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF head Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo fell out over the future of the country.
Several ceasefires have been announced to allow people to escape the fighting but these have not been observed.
The RSF controls much of Khartoum and its twin cities of Omdurman and Bahri.
The army has carried out frequent artillery and air attacks to try and dislodge the paramilitary fighters.
Saturday’s strike is one of the heaviest.
Clashes have spread beyond the capital, including to the western Darfur region which has seen an outbreak of ethnic violence.
Across the country, hundreds have been killed and almost three million people have been forced from their homes.
Africa to find climate solutions not be the victims- Ruto
Source: BBC, Rory Gallimore
Monday September 4, 2023
The Africa Climate Summit will tackle African and global climate change issues
African heads of state are gathering in Kenya for the Africa Climate Summit, where they will discuss the continent’s approach to climate change.
The meeting in Nairobi is the first of its kind in Africa. It aims to come up with a common plan to present to other world leaders at a the COP 28 United Nations climate summit later this year.
Over the next three days, delegates at the summit will consider a new funding model to help governments reduce carbon emissions.
Kenyan President William Ruto said Africa should be part of the solution to global warming, rather than a victim.
“For a very long time we have looked at this as a problem. It is time we flipped and looked at it from the other side,” he told delegates at the opening of the meeting.
“There are opportunities, immense opportunities as well. And that is why we are not here to catalogue grievances and list problems, we are here to scrutinise ideas, assess perspectives, so that we can unlock solutions.”
African countries are among the smallest contributors to climate change, but suffer some of its worst effects.
: Growing influence of Brics in East Africa through arms race
Source: TheEastAfrican: Tuesday September 5, 2023
A Russian tank in a firing exercise field. PHOTO | AFP
Countries. Yet, new details show that arms supply is just as much the bloc’s area of specialisation, to eastern African countries.
The Brics arms race, it turns out, is already playing out in eastern Africa as new data indicates that in 2021 and 2022, Uganda and Rwanda were the biggest importers of Russian arms, while Ethiopia and Tanzania sourced their military firepower from China.
This is according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) arms transfer database.
In its August update — dated just before the August 22-24 Brics Summit in South Africa — Sipri, showed that Russia and China dominate supplies while India is the bloc’s and the world’s biggest arms importer. Sipri often research and maps conflicts, arms control and purchases.
The update studied arms transfers for the period 2008 — 2022, to see whether the trend of trading between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — which until the formal admission of six new members constituted the Brics group — is also reflected in arms trade between themselves.
According to Sipri, the Brics is an important economic bloc and trade between its members is growing. Data shows that Russia has remained the top supplier of arms to India in the last 14 years, while the Asian nation was also the number one export market for Russian arms exports.
“However, Russia’s share fell from 78 percent in 2008-12 to 45 percent in 2018-22, while France, Israel and USA all gained ground,” the think tank explains.
According to Sipri, China receives most of its major arms imports from Russia and was ranked the number two market for Russian arms exports in 2008-2022, but the Asian giant is becoming less reliant on arms imports, including from Russia as its domestic arms industry grows rapidly.
While India was the world’s number one importer of major arms from 2008 – 2022, China ranked third while other Brics members imported much smaller volumes, ranking 36th, 55th and 63rd for Brazil, South Africa and Russia respectively, according to Sipri.
In terms of exports, Russia, ranked number two globally after the US, while China was number five, with India, Brazil and South Africa having relatively small domestic arms industries but keen to increase their exports.
In East Africa, Uganda was ranked Russia’s biggest market in 2022, importing weapons worth $48 million out of a total import bill of $55 million, according to Sipri’s trend indicator values. Its other sources were Czechia ($4 million), Israel ($2 million), China ($1 million) and South Africa ($1 million).
In 2021, Rwanda imported arms worth $46 million from Russia, $10 million from turkey and $2 million from the US.
In 2022, Ethiopia imported weapons valued at $35 million from China, while the previous year, its arms were sourced from Turkey ($5 million) and $6 million worth of weapons from unknown sources.
In 2021, Tanzania imported arms worth $29 million from China and also sourced weapons worth $24 million from France.
Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo sourced their arms from South Africa; Kenya and South Sudan are the only countries from region whose military supplies are not sourced from a Brics member during this period.
In 2009, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa formed the bloc to counter western dominance in geopolitics, and to promote peace, security, development and cooperation; the inclusion of new members Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is meant to share these goals wider.
Scholars view the Brics emergence as critical to establishing a new world order to bridge the widening gap between the actual role of emerging markets in the global system and their ability to participate in the decision-making process of global institutions
Somalis with albinism: Pelted with stones and raw eggs
Source: BBC, By Naciima Saed Salah
Tuesday September 5, 2023
Referring to the stigma he faces in Somalia because he has albinism, 25 year-old Elmi Bile Mohamed says: “People tell me I am a cannibal and that I will eat their children. They are terrified of me.”
Mr Mohamed has struggled to find a place to live in the capital, Mogadishu, since leaving his rural home in the central region of Hiraan. His brothers also suffer from the condition.
“We were continuously insulted and tortured by our community. We were beaten up and mocked for the pale colour of our skin, hair and eyes,” he says.
“I thought I would find a better life in Mogadishu but I was wrong.”
Mr Mohamed searched and searched for a room in a shared house but was rejected at every turn.
He ended up paying $30 (£23) a month to live in a storage shed in Hamar Weyne district, the oldest part of the city.
“People think I am cursed,” he says. “They often throw a mixture of salt water and raw eggs onto my doorstep because they believe this will protect them from me.”
Mr Mohamed eventually found a job as a cleaner in a restaurant earning between $1.40 and $4 (£3) a day.
It didn’t last long.
He was fired after customers stopped going to eat there, saying they feared he would infect them with albinism even though it is not a contagious disease, rather a genetic condition.
“I went from restaurant to restaurant looking for another job but nobody would employ me,” he says. “I ended up begging on the streets, holding up a placard with my phone number on it so people could make donations via mobile payments.”
The money he earns from begging is rarely enough to cover his meals and rent, let alone the sunblock and glasses he needs to protect his sensitive skin and eyes. People with albinism have little or no melanin, the pigment that colours eyes, hair and skin and offers protection from the sun.
“I cannot afford to buy sunglasses,” Mr Mohamed says. “There is so much dust and highly polluting traffic in the market where I beg. My eyes are constantly in agony and my sight is deteriorating rapidly.”
“Sometimes people give me their leftovers to eat. Other times I have nothing.”
Mr Mohamed’s dreams of running away to Mogadishu to earn money to send back to his family, especially his albino brothers, have been shattered.
It is not clear how many people with albinism live in Somalia as there is no data available. The country has been affected by conflict and instability for more than three decades so it is impossible to gather reliable information.
Earlier this year, about 80 families living with albinism in Mogadishu came together to form an association, Somali Albinos, which they hope will raise awareness about their plight and help reduce stigma.
So far, they have been sent 86 bottles of sun cream from Somali women living in the diaspora.
It is recommended that people with albinism wear high-factor sunscreen, protective clothing and sunglasses to reduce exposure to sunlight.
Their lack of melanin means they are at increased risk of getting sunburn and skin cancer. It also leads to eye problems as melanin is involved in the development of the retina, the thin layer of cells at the back of the eye.
“Other Somalis with disabilities have formed organisations which lobby for help from the government and international organisations,” says the group’s chairman, 40 year-old Mohamed Abukar Abdiqadir. “They now have rights. We don’t.”
“I was elected as the leader of our association because I am a hero and I never give up,” says Mr Abdiqadir, who has six children. Like him, they all live with albinism.
He scrapes together a living by selling dried and tinned food from a trolley in Hamar Weyne market. He always wears a hat to protect himself from the harsh sun.
“The reason people hate and fear us is ignorance,” he says.
“The evil and discrimination we face must not stop us from fighting for our rights and feeding our families. If Somalis learn about albinism, they will realise we are people just like them.”
“The people I love the most – my husband and my relatives – shun my children”
Asha Gele Mother of children with albinism.
For now, prejudice against people with albinism is so severe that children with the condition rarely get an education.
“I took my children out of school because they were being stoned every day,” says Asha Gele, whose two sons live with albinism.
“Their delicate skin was badly damaged by the stones people threw at them, so now I keep them inside all day, every day,” she says. “They won’t get an education, they won’t learn how to play with other children, but at least they will be safe.”
The family pays $40 a month to live in a makeshift two-roomed property in north Mogadishu’s Huriwa district. Its walls and roof are constructed from old cloth and broken, rusted sheets of corrugated iron, not enough to stop the sunlight pouring in and burning the children’s skin.
“I used to earn decent money selling vegetables in the market,” Mrs Gele says. “I had to give up my business to stay at home with my children. Now we struggle to survive on the $4 to $6 my husband earns daily as a rickshaw driver.”
Mrs Gele says her marriage is falling apart because her husband blames her for giving birth to children with albinism. He accuses her of bringing bad luck to the family.
“The people I love the most – my husband and my relatives – shun my children. My own brother keeps his distance because he believes they will infect him with albinism,” she says.
“But I will always stand by and defend them no matter what. I will be patient and I will never neglect them. They did not choose to live like this.”
SIPRI Yearbook 2023
Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Stockholm Sweden, Order SIPRI Yearbook 2023
Published in print and online in 2023 by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Click here to download the sample chapter on world nuclear forces (PDF).
Oxford University Press
After 3 years of drought, Greater Horn of Africa to get early, heavy rains, courtesy El Nino
Down To Earth
Source: Down To Earth By Kiran Pandey
Tuesday August 29, 2023
There is also a very high probability of extreme weather-led devastation. Photo: iStock There is also a very high probability of extreme weather-led devastation. Photo: iStock
The Greater Horn of Africa is likely to get heavy rains from October-December 2023, said the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) in its forecast.
The forecast was released at the 65th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF65) held by ICPAC in collaboration with the region’s National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.
ICPAC attributes the wetter-than-usual conditions across most parts of the Greater Horn of Africa to El-Nino. The Greater Horn of Africa region includes Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
“The devastating drought associated with the three-year La Niña event may be replaced by a deluge because of the new El Nino event, which typically means wetter-than-usual conditions in East Africa,” said Wilfran Moufouma Okia, head of regional climate prediction services at WMO in his statement.
“Another climate phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole is developing over the Indian Ocean and may strengthen the El Nino impacts,” he said.
ICPAC, the climate centre accredited by the World Meteorological Organization, provides climate services to 11 East African countries.
Southern Ethiopia, eastern Kenya and southern Somalia are very likely to experience wetter-than-usual rainfall, according to the forecast.
In contrast, drier-than-usual conditions have been forecast for the isolated areas of southwestern Uganda and southwestern South Sudan.
Below-average rainfall has been forecast until end of the season for Eritrea, central and northern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Western Kenya, significant areas of South Sudan and Sudan, and Northern Uganda.
October to December, the vital rainfall season, especially in the equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, contributed 20-70 per cent of the annual total rainfall.
But the season may occur early in parts of the region, where elevated rainfall is anticipated. These are eastern Kenya, southern Somalia and eastern Tanzania.
In contrast, the rainfall may be average or even delayed over parts of northern Somalia, western Kenya, Uganda, southern South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and north-western Tanzania, according to the seasonal outlook by ICPAC.
El Nino is likely to increase the possibilities of hotter temperatures in many parts of the world, including Africa, according to the WMO.
The ICPAC forecast also showed that the average surface temperature in almost all parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and parts of coastal Tanzania is likely to be higher-than-usual.
Blessing or curse?
After experiencing heavy rainfall across much of the region from March to May 2023, increased precipitation from October to December 2023 may contribute to flooding, alerted ICPAC Director Guleid Artan.
The heavy rains, after three dry years and devastating drought, seems to be a blessing and good news for farmers and the agriculture sector.
But, the heavy rainfall can quickly become a curse, warned Artan in his statement. “Desert locusts are already proliferating to alarming levels in parts of the region.”
There is also a very high probability of extreme weather-led devastation, as faced by the region during the last El Nino in 2015-16.
For instance, the El Nino was behind the devastating summer rains in Ethiopia during May 2016, acknowledged the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Artan, on behalf of ICPAC, advised the governments and disaster management agencies to be prepared to tackle incidences like torrential rains-led landslides and flash floods, and take all necessary measures to save lives and livelihoods
Source: Somalia International Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) appeal that ongoing destructive inhuman war in Sudan which has resulted huge destruction, mass killings of the people, displacement and refugees of the Sudan people, hunger, and violation of the fundamental rights of the Sudanese people must stop immediately.
Source: The New York Times published on 23 August 2023 an article titled “China Tries to Increase Its Clout in Africa Amid Rivalry With the U.S.” by David Pierson and Lynsey Chutel.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sees himself as the leader of the developing world in China’s effort to offer an alternative to the US-led global order. Africa is an emerging battleground for global influence.
Source: Aljazeera published on 26 August 2023 an article titled “Charismatic Leader Is Gone but Wagner Will Survive in Africa, Analysts Say” by Ope Adetayo.
African governments that have been receiving the services of the mercenary Wagner Group fully expect the relationship will continue in spite of the death of its leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his top lieutenant.
Outcry in Somalia over government decision to ban TikTok, Telegram
Source: Aljazeera, By Bashir Mohamed Caato
Monday August 28, 2023
Abdulahi Ahmed uses his mobile phone to watch a video on social media app TikTok, outside his home in Waberi district of Mogadishu, Somalia August 21, 2023 [Feisal Omar/Reuters]
On Sunday, Somali authorities issued an order banning access to several giant social media platforms including the video platform TikTok, messaging app Telegram, and the online betting 1xBet.
In a letter addressed to the Telecom companies, Somalia’s minister of communications and technology directed the country’s internet service providers to block access to the three platforms, citing security and moral conduct.
The directive gave internet service providers until midnight on August 24 to comply.
“You are being directed to shut the above-mentioned applications, which terrorists and immoral groups use to spread horrific content and misinformation to the public, “the statement read.
In a country where 60 percent of the population is below the age of 25 according to the World Bank, the government’s decision has sparked anger among the young content creators who have taken to social media to express discontent.
“I strongly disagree with the government’s move … the ministry can address the concerns they have raised by taking actions against the individual users instead of collective punishment,” Mursal Ahmed, a popular Somali TikTok with more than two million followers told Al Jazeera.
He said the decision came as a surprise to quite a number of them who make ends meet from TikTok revenue and now have to think of alternatives.
“I signed up to TikTok in 2018 and my livelihood depends on it since there are no job opportunities in the country. I make a minimum of $2,000 a month from advertising local business products, and that is what I use to manage my livelihood and if that is cut off, I will literally remain jobless,” the 26-year-old Mursal added.
‘Explicit’ and ‘extremist’ content
The attempt to ban TikTok is not new and is not unique to Somalia.
Last October, the Somali government reportedly deactivated more than 40 platforms including Facebook, Twitter accounts and websites which it said were “terrorist accounts”.
Days before Mogadishu announced the move to shut down Chinese-owned TikTok, the parliament in neighbouring Kenya received a petition urging to prohibit the same platform.
The government cited security and moral conduct as reasons for the ban. In recent years, explicit content including sexual content was widely posted on Telegram groups has made sections of Somalia, a deeply conservative Muslim-majority country, question online safety, especially for unsupervised youths.
Also, activities of al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked armed group active in the country for years, have been posted by unknown users on TikTok and Telegram even as the Somali military has continued an offensive against the group.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, TikTok spokesperson Ragdah Alazab said the social platform has launched a safety campaign in collaboration with Somalia’s National Communications Authority in June and is hopeful about reaching a compromise soon.
“As we stand firmly against violent extremism, we have permanently removed and continue to remove the reported accounts and content depicting hateful and violent extremist behaviour,” Alazab said. “There is no place on our platform for those dedicated to spreading beliefs or propaganda that encourage violence or hate.”
“We have been in regular communication with the authorities in Somalia and we are hopeful to reach a conclusion.”
Ahmed is waiting for the outcome of that conclusion too.
“Unlike other countries, Somalia isn’t eligible for TikTok content creator fund and I was expecting the government to sit down with TikTok management and discuss it with the concern we had, but unfortunately, they seem to be ending the talents of many youths without providing an alternative,” he said.
Effect on local business
Over the years, thousands of Somalis, mainly youths have been signing up for TikTok for entertaining content and gaming.
Considering the country’s unemployment rate, which now stands at more than 35 percent, some even initiated business on social media sites and post digital marketing for their products on the platforms to access their potential customers.
Now, they are worried about what the future holds for their business.
“I shifted my entire beauty product business from physical location to TikTok marketing since its zero cost and easy access to a ready market, and the reason being is I have huge followers on TikTok which I use to digitally market my products.” Ikran Abdullahi, Mogadishu-based beauty product entrepreneur with nearly half a million followers on TikTok told Al Jazeera by phone.
“I make about $500 profit from the product I sell on TikTok every week and that is how I manage my livelihood and the decision by the government is likely to affect a promising future for many youths who have initiated their own business ideas and talent.”
The 24-year old who is upset with the decision by the government said if the government decision is implemented, she would be forced to rent a store and would likely lose hundreds of customers who have been placing their orders online.
‘Decision without due process’
In recent years, the short-form video platform – TikTok – has been gaining popularity in Somalia with senior government officials including defence minister Abdulkadir Mohamed and some members of parliament becoming influencers on it.
Some of them are worried about the decision, too.
“Any attempt to shut down any platform should have been initiated by the legislative and not the executive, and the government cannot just one day make the decision without due process and thus makes the decision by the minister ineffective,” Abdirahman Abdishakur, a Somali federal lawmaker and TikToker opposed to the decision by the government, told Al Jazeera.
“The government should come up with a policy to regulate any content shared across the social platforms that is deemed harmful and inappropriate morally,” said Abdishakur, who has 51,000 followers on the site. “They should also have a collaboration with social media companies, which I understand is possible, instead of banning.”
He added that the platforms, especially TikTok, are a welcome source of income for many content creators in Somalia since the unemployment rate remains high.
“It’s also a platform where we engage the youths and read from their mood, especially on national issues that need to be addressed,” he said.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
Darfur residents trapped and used as human shields – MSF
Source: BBC, Friday August 25, 2023
Markets and residential areas in the city of Nyala in the Sudan’s Darfur region have turned into battlegrounds in the last few days, staff working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) say.
“We have also been told that armed fighters have stormed homes and hidden inside, effectively using civilians as human shields and leaving them with no protected spaces,” MSF said in a statement.
MSF staff are being forced to bury their neighbours, family and friends during a surge in fighting in Nyala, the main city in South Darfur state, where tens of thousands of residents are trapped, the medial charity says.
On Wednesday, shelling caused the death of 27 people, mostly women and children, who were caught in the crossfire while hiding under a bridge, it said.
Elsewhere in South Darfur state, Kas Hospital was now controlled by armed groups, “leaving civilians with little to no options for medical care”, the charity said.
A civil war erupted in Sudan in mid-April between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the army as the two former allies battle for control of the country.
Darfur, the birthplace of the RSF that grew out of the Janjaweed militia accused of widespread atrocities two decades ago, has seen the worst of the violence.
What’s next for security in Somalia after the AU mission ends?
Source: Aljazeera, By Bashir Mohamed Caato
Saturday August 26, 2023
African Union (AU) soldiers stand with their armoured vehicles near a checkpoint on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 [File: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP Photo]
It was June 28.
In a dusty military compound in Somalia’s coastal town of Adale, soldiers from the African Union peacekeeping force and the Somali National Army gathered in a makeshift building.
The AU commander gave signed documents to his Somali counterpart, marking the handing over of the military base, approximately 150km from Mogadishu, to the Somali Army.
Since the beginning of June, similar ceremonies have been taking place at military bases across Somalia. These ceremonies come as the African Union (AU) is winding down its peacekeeping mission in the country, leading to concerns about what will happen when AU soldiers finally depart at the end of 2024.
Established in 2007, the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), previously known as the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), gradually drew an estimated 22,000 troops from Uganda, Burundi and neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
The AU peacekeeping forces aimed to assist Somalia’s federal government in its war against al-Shabab.
When peacekeepers were first deployed, the al-Qaeda-linked armed group controlled nearly all territories in south-central Somalia.
Working with Somali security forces, the AU soldiers pushed the fighters into rural areas, and as it stands, al-Shabab mainly controls only those.
However, the combined efforts to defeat the group over the years have killed thousands of civilians and now, as the phasing out of ATMIS begins, there has been a debate about its success – or lack thereof.
“Though we appreciate AU force’s efforts, back then when they were deployed, we were hopeful that they would bring stability across the country since civilians, especially the women and children, have mostly suffered the conflict, but unfortunately, nothing much has changed,” said Batulo Ahmed, the chair of Somali Women Association.
According to a report compiled by ACLED, an independent data collection group, more than 4,000 civilians have been killed in al-Shabab attacks since 2008, and many more were injured, while four million people were internally displaced due to the conflict.
In April this year, the head of the AU mission in Somalia, Mohamed El-Amine Souef, confirmed that about 3,500 troops, mainly from Uganda and Burundi, were killed and more than 5,000 were injured since the mission started.
Professor Paul Williams, director of security policy studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Washington, told Al Jazeera that “ATMIS faced many challenges but achieved the key strategic elements of its mandate”.
“Namely, protecting the transitional federal government, expelling al-Shabab forces from Mogadishu in 2011, and securing the process that established the country’s federal government and federal member states across south-central Somalia,” he said.
Al-Shabab, one of Africa’s deadliest armed groups, has recently been avoiding active combat with the joint forces but instead adopted night combat tactics and increased its use of suicide bombing. The group also maintains limited but effective administrative control over local populations in south-central Somalia.
According to Omar Mahmood, a researcher at the International Crisis Group focusing on Somalia, ATMIS has had mixed success.
“The mission’s main tasks were to essentially defeat al-Shabab and support the political process. We can say they have liberated major towns but struggled to secure rural areas,” Mahmood told Al Jazeera.
Somalia’s defence minister did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment. But the country’s national security adviser, Hussein Maalim, who is involved in the transition process, in July this year told state media that Mogadishu is optimistic about changing the guard.
“We have revived the national security architecture which dictates a unified national army, we are hoping to start a new offensive against al-Shabab soon and towards the end of the year, we are expecting the UN Security Council to partially lift the arms embargo,” Maalim said. “Since the transition process was initiated, we have recruited more than the required military personnel.”
However, not everyone is as confident.
Over three decades, the Horn of Africa nation has been lacking a professional army due to prolonged conflict, and there is a widespread belief that it is a long way from having a truly effective national force.
“Somalia’s national army are in no position to take over responsibilities in the foreseeable future, the main reason being the lack of an agreed national security architecture, and when there is consensus, we lack a unified national army, as the regular army is now mostly clan militias,” Mohamed Mubarak, chairman of the Hiraal Institute, a Mogadishu-based security think tank, told Al Jazeera.
“Somalia needs a professional military, ability to pay for it by itself, and political stability,” Mubarak added.
However, the winding down of the mission has created uncertainty about whether Somalia can build an effective country-wide security presence, and its limited resources are also a key factor.
Mubarak believes Mogadishu will be unable to fund its forces in the foreseeable future and will continue to rely on external support, even after the ATMIS drawdown.
‘Resources to sustain their presence’
A January 2023 report by the Heritage Institute, a Mogadishu-based think tank, revealed that more than two-thirds of the Somali government’s $950m annual budget comes from external donors, which poses a question of readiness and whether Mogadishu can afford its own national security.
Experts say the timetable set by the UN Security Council is too ambitious since Somalia’s forces are unlikely to be fully autonomous by then, nor is it likely that al-Shabab will be defeated militarily.
“The Somali security sector has certainly progressed over the years, but it remains an open question if they can fully take over locations vacated by AU forces and have the resources to sustain their presence, including logistically,” Mahmood said, adding that Somali security forces are still developing as they simultaneously fight al-Shabab and seek to hold territory.
“Transitioning from external to Somali forces before the latter are fully ready could result in ground lost to the group.”
The United States, which trained the Danab Brigade, an elite Somali special operations unit which has been carrying out drone attacks, is also believed to have played a vital role in defeating the group.
“The US support to Somalia isn’t linked to the AU mission since Washington is supporting the federal government itself. Even if ATMIS ends, the US still has a partner on the ground, and it will continue to support it,” Mahmood said.
In recent months, al-Shabab has intensified its attacks on Somali and AU troops, with its most recent raid killing more than 50 Ugandan soldiers after its fighters stormed the AU base in Bulamarer, 130km (80 miles) southwest of the capital.
Rights groups, too, said they are concerned about the transition and any resolution of human rights abuses during the peacekeeping mission.
Despite there being no accurate figures showing the number of civilians killed by ATMIS, dozens of people are believed to have been killed by the AU forces. Rights group Amnesty International also says the troops have committed various human rights violations as they responded to al-Shabab’s attacks in south-central Somalia.
“The mission leadership said they have carried out investigations and even promised to act, but unfortunately now that they’re expected to leave, there is no justice or compensation for the victims’ families,” Abdullahi Hassan, an Amnesty International Somalia and Sudan researcher, told Al Jazeera.
Hassan says concerns are growing on whether the security situation could worsen for civilians under the new troops.
“The transition process seems to be focusing on the military aspect and doesn’t accommodate civilian protection, especially in providing training programmes for the Somali forces on international humanitarian law, and vetting the Somali security force leadership to avoid giving responsibilities to those believed to have committed human rights violations.”
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
Somali army captures Elbur district, a major Al-Shabaab base in central Somalia
Source: VOA, Abdulaziz Osman
Saturday August 26, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Somali government said its army captured a major al-Shabab base in central Somalia, marking a significant victory in its military offensive against the al-Qaida linked group.
On Friday, Somalia’s army, alongside security forces from the country’s central Galmudug region, entered the historic district of Elbur, about 400 kilometers (249 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, shortly after al-Shabab militants hastily fled the district.
General Ibrahim Sheikh Muhyadin, the chief of Somalia’s army, told VOA that the allied forces are currently engaged in operations to secure the district and dismantle explosive devices planted by the terrorist group.
“Despite their attempts to fight back, they were unable to resist us and eventually fled,” Muhyadin told VOA.
‘The country will find peace’
Elbur, located in the central Somali region of Galgaduud, has been a stronghold for al-Shabab for nearly a decade and its capture represents a significant blow to the group.
“The capture means to us that al-Shabab was defeated, and the country will find peace,” Muhyadin said.
Meanwhile, the Somali government said at least 32 al-Shabab militants were killed Friday in the Lower Shabelle region during two operations conducted by government forces in collaboration with international partners, according to state media.
Fighters capture military base
In a separate development, local fighters in the Sool region, 786 kilometers (488 miles) northeast of Mogadishu, said they have captured an important military base from Somaliland, the breakaway republic of Somalia.
Fighters loyal to SSC-Khatumo said that they seized the Gojacade base — on the outskirts of Las Anod town — the scene of fighting between Somaliland forces and SSC fighters for several months.
SSC-Khatumo spokesperson told VOA that there are casualties on both sides, claiming the fighters captured weapons and dozens of soldiers as prisoners.
In a statement, Somaliland said its army withdrew from their positions in the eastern part of the Sool region for “strategic military purposes and is in the phase of reorganizing and preparing to counter the enemy.” Somaliland added that some of its forces are missing after encountering difficulties in reaching their intended destinations.
The fighting in Las Anod has displaced thousands of people as regional tensions have been high for several months. The town has been under Somaliland control, but currently, the Las-Anod local leaders say they want to rejoin the federal government of Somalia.
Abdulkadir Abdulle and Abdikarim Olol contributed to this report.
Somalia receives Bell 412 Helicopters for Counter-Insurgency Fight against Al-Shabaab
Source: Fagen Wasanni
By Candice Clark
Sunday August 27, 2023
Somalia has recently acquired two Bell 412 helicopters to support their efforts in combating the Al-Shabaab militant group. It is anticipated that an additional three helicopters of the same model will be delivered in the near future.
The training of pilots, technicians, and Special Forces personnel on this specific aircraft has taken place in Turkey, possibly due to the strong military partnership between Turkey and Somalia.
advertisementsTurkey maintains a military base in Somalia where its troops actively train Somali soldiers in the fight against Al-Shabaab. It is believed that Turkey also played a role in training Somali pilots.
Initially, there were speculations that the helicopters were acquired from Turkey. However, further analysis suggests that this is unlikely, as the Bell 412 model is exclusively used by the Turkish Coast Guard and tailored for their specific operations. From a historical perspective, Somalia’s ties with Italy indicate that the helicopters may have originated from Italy. Earlier this year, Somalia received two ex-Italian AgustaBell AB412 helicopters. Nonetheless, it remains unclear if these specific AB412 helicopters went through modifications for deployment in the Somalia Air Force. Limited photographic evidence showcases two AB412/Bell 412 helicopters sporting a two-tone camouflage scheme in a desert environment, indicating possible modifications for combat operations.
The introduction of these helicopters is essential in strengthening Somalia’s counter-insurgency capabilities. The mobility and versatility of the Bell 412 helicopters will aid in combatting Al-Shabaab’s insurgency efforts effectively. With ongoing training and the expected arrival of additional helicopters, Somalia is positioning itself to intensify its fight against the militant group.
– Source: Somalia Receives Bell 412 Helicopters for Counter-Insurgency Fight against Al-Shabaab (Scramble Magazine)
Qatar Charity opens health centre to benefit 20,000 people in Somalia
Source: Gulf Times, Sunday August 27, 2023
Qatar Charity inaugurated a health centre within the Madina Hospital in Banaadir, a region in Somalia. The inaugural ceremony of the health centre was attended by several dignitaries from the Somali government, led by the Somali minister of health, as well as members of the Qatari embassy in Mogadishu. The health centre is expected to benefit 20,000 people.
The 350-square-metre centre encompasses several departments, including a maternity ward, doctor’s clinics, an emergency department, a vaccination room, a laboratory, a pharmacy, and administrative offices. Additionally, it includes designated spaces for health awareness and education to increase awareness about diseases and preventive health.
Among the services provided by the centre are first aid for emergency cases and maternal, child, and reproductive health services, in addition to providing nutritional services and vaccinations for children. The centre also offers laboratory diagnostic services. It seeks to achieve comprehensive health coverage for mothers and children, contributing to sustainable development and community well-being.
During the inauguration ceremony of the health centre, Dr Mohamed Abdirahman Jama, the director-general of the Madina Hospital in Banaadir, spoke about the importance of this project and its anticipated impact on healthcare services provided to the community.
“We feel a great sense of pride in collaborating with Qatar Charity on this project, which reflects a shared humanitarian commitment to improving the health situation and providing healthcare to the community,” said Dr Mohamed Abdirahman Jama.
He noted that this health centre comes as a part of the ongoing efforts to expand and improve healthcare services, and it will provide specialised medical services, including treatment and diagnosis using the latest available medical technologies and methods.
He thanked the Qatari donors and Qatar Charity for their generous support, expressing his hope that this project would serve as a starting point for further collaboration and partnerships in the field of healthcare to achieve better health and well-being for communities.
The Somali Minister of Health Ali Haji Warsame, expressed his satisfaction with such projects that support governmental efforts to improve healthcare services. He commended the pioneering efforts of Qatar Charity in promoting health awareness within the Somali community. He also expressed deep gratitude towards Qatar and Qatar Charity for this humanitarian initiative, which is expected to significantly contribute to improving the health and humanitarian situation in Somalia and have a positive impact on the lives of the Somali people.
KSrelief continues humanitarian work in Yemen, Somalia and Lebanon
Source: Arab News, Sunday August 27, 2023
The program is part of the 2023 Food Security Enhancement Project. (SPA)
RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) launched projects in Yemen, Somalia and Lebanon.
In Mogadishu, Somalia, the kidney dialysis center at Banadir Hospital continued providing its medical services with the support of KSrelief.
advertisementsThe center catered to 83 patients in July and scheduled 190 dialysis sessions.
In Lebanon, KSrelief implemented the fourth phase of the Al-Amal Charitable Bakery project in Akkar and Al-Minieh.
About 25,000 packages of bread were distributed daily to Syrian and Palestinian refugee families in the community.
The program is part of the 2023 Food Security Enhancement Project and aims to achieve food security for people in need.
In Yemen, KSrelief launched a project to distribute food to displaced people in Mukalla.
The project aimed to distribute 3,668 food packages, benefiting 25,676 individuals from districts of Hajar, Thamud, Ramah and Al-Abr.
Every two months, the initiative will help sustain food security for over 200,000 people.