Latest News Regarding
Horn of Africa
Spanish, French fleets blacklisted from Indian Ocean for illegal fishing
Source: TheEastAfrican, By ANTHONY KITIMO
Wednesday June 15, 2022
A fisherman in Lamu County, Kenya, displays the much sought-after Tuna fish. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Spanish and French vessels found fishing illegally in the Indian Ocean have been blacklisted after a key watchdog found them repeat offenders.
The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) says the vessels were found to have been illegally fishing in the exclusive economic zones of Somalia, Mauritius, India and Mozambique; without the respective permission of these countries. A situational report by IOTC, released during the 26th Session in Seychelles says: “Fleets such as these cause irreversible damage to our ocean, threatening marine life and the people who depend on it around the world.
“This was recognised by nations at the IOTC meeting this week, where the several member countries urged the Commission to blacklist the fleet. They catch more yellowfin tuna than any other gear in the Indian Ocean – with 97 percent of the yellowfin tuna caught around dFADs in the Indian Ocean by purse seiners being juveniles,” the statement said.
Kenya and South Africa’s aggressive hunt against drifting fish aggregating devices (dFADs), such as trawlers, contributed to the decision. Conservationists are increasingly contesting the use of such fishing techniques as the vessels catch more juvenile fish that could contribute to the dissipation of species.
IOTC, an intergovernmental organisation mandated to guard highly migratory tuna and tuna-like fisheries resources in the Indian Ocean has also been promoting the use of appropriate fishing techniques. The Commission did not name the number of vessels banned but did suggest all those carrying flags from the two countries will no longer be permitted to fish in the zone.
The Indian Ocean is the second-largest tuna fishery in the world.
Source: The Conversation published on 29 May 2022 a commentary titled “US Will Soon Redeploy Troops in Somalia: The Mission and Key Goals” by Paul D. Williams, George Washington University.
The US goal in Somalia is to stabilize the country, contain and weaken al-Shabaab, and build an effective set of State institutions. The recent decision by the Biden administration to return about 450 US soldiers to Somalia is intended to support that goal.
110th ILO World of Work conference discusses labour during multiple global crises
Source: hiiraan.comMonday June 13, 2022
Geneva (HOL) – The 110th International Labour Conference (ILC) concluded this weekend in Geneva, Switzerland.
The ILC is the highest decision-making body of the International Labour Organization and is held annually to advance the core mandate of the organization.
More than 4,000 delegates representing governments, workers’ and employers’ Organizations from 177 ILO Member States attended the 110th ILC.
advertisementsThis year’s theme was tackling multiple global crises and promoting human-centred recovery and resilience.
Omar Faruk Osman Nur, the General Secretary of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions, delivered to the delegates in the historic Palais des Nations where he discussed Somalia’s unique set of challenges which have impacted its economic, social and political development.
“In 2019, the World Bank found that almost 9 out of 10 Somali households were deprived of at least one basic human need – money, electricity, education, water, and sanitation. Children under the age of 14 years represent nearly half of the Somali population, and 73% of these children are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty. Because of decades of devastating conflict, civic institutions remain weak; peace and security remain fragile amid the pervasive threats of terrorism attacks, and media freedom is still some way off track.”
Osman also explained how the COVID pandemic disrupted the labour market.
“In Somalia, one year into the crisis, employment had contracted by 37%, with medium-size, large, and older firms shedding most of the jobs.”
Over half of the working-age population aged 15–64 (55%) are primarily employed in the informal economy. Only 43% of Somali women are actively engaged in the labour market compared with 67% of men. Osman added that workers have no formal and government-led social protection programme.
Osman revealed the results of a study conducted by FESTU with technical assistance from the ILO that found that most workers were concerned about their employers’ lack of consideration for the health dangers posed by COVD-19. They surveyed 1927 workers, 448 of whom were women.
Omar Faruk Osman Nur, the General Secretary of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions
“FESTU found that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were reducing working hours and wages with little or no consultation with employees and/or union representatives. COVID–19 also leads to an overrepresentation of women in the informal economy or in precarious jobs, which directly impacts the health and wellbeing of household members.”
Osman said that international labour rights have begun to take form in Somalia through legislation and policy.
He called on the federal government and member states to adopt and implement Somalia’s Decent Work Country Programme, which emphasizes decent employment, workers’ rights, social protection and social dialogue.
The Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, said the 110th International Labour Conference closes with a “remarkable harvest of achievements.”
The Director-General told delegates that the 110th International Labour Conference had made history with its work on safety and health, apprenticeships, and labour standards, among other areas.
Ryder said the Committee on the Application of Standards was crucial to the UN’s capacity to help those affected by human rights violations.
“During this conference, I have received alarming, even harrowing testimony of the situation of people whose lives, livelihoods and liberty are in the balance, and it is in the Standards Committee that our capacity to come to their assistance resides.”
The 110th ILC was the first Conference since 2019 that delegates were able to attend in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 111th Session of the ILC is scheduled to take place from 5 to 16 June 2023.
Source: borkena.comMonday June 13, 2022
PM Abiy (left) and Debretion Gebremichal, TPLF chairman ( right) ( Photo : File)
Weeks after unconfirmed news regarding secret negotiation between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Nigeria, a new report indicates that the talk between the two parties is going to take place in Tanzania.
Le Monde, a French News source, said, in a report published on Thursday, “behind the scenes” negotiation is organised between the Federal government and TPLF forces. It is planned to take place at the end of June in Arusha, Tanzania.advertisementsThe source cited “several African and western diplomats” to report that the discussion could start by the end of this month.
The negotiation is said to be behind doors and both parties will be represented by a team of five negotiators. The negotiation aims, a negotiated ceasefire.
Humanitarian deliveries and resumption of social services in the Tigray region, including electricity and banking, among other things, constitute agenda items for the talk.
According to Le Monde, TPLF is to renounce claim over Wolkait area of Gondar which is used to call as “Western Tigray.” Le Monde cited unnamed diplomatic sources in Addis Ababa to report that “the Tigrayan leadership gives the impression of gradually abandoning its claims to Wolqayt.”
The TPLF, however, says that the report is “mendacious.”
In a message shared on social media, Getachew Reda, TPLF spokesperson, said :
“An article by a French newspaper #LeMonde apparently claims, quoting unnamed Addis-based diplomats, that discreet talks will be held b/n Tigray and Ethiopian authorities and the former has “abandoned their claims to Western Tigray”. These are mendacious claims,of course. While we will officially address these claims soon, let me set the record straight on the question: it is the declared intention& position of the government of Tigray to reclaim every square-inch of Tigray’s territory by every possible means available- peaceful or otherwise; and soon!”
Earlier this week, press secretary in the office of the Prime Minister, Billene Seyoum, described reports of unconfirmed clandestine talk between Abiy Ahmed’s government and the TPLF as “disinformation by local media.”
However, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is now serving the African Union as special envoy to the Horn of Africa, said there have been improvements in the indirect talks between the TPLF and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. Mr. Obasanjo said that the talk is now better than what it was six months ago.
When Ethiopia’s Minister for Finance, Ahmed Shede, presented a draft budget for the next fiscal year at the Ethiopian Parliament, he said that one of the assumptions taken into consideration when preparing the budget is that there will be no war in northern Ethiopia. The Tigray region itself will be getting 12 billion Ethiopian birr from the budget.
Since the TPLF is firmly administering the region, despite the fact that the Ethiopian parliament designated it as a terrorist organization, it will be administering the budget to be released from the Federal government.
Source: The Royal United Services Institute published on 10 June 2022 an analysis titled “Ballots, Bullets and Building Blocks: State Formation in Somalia” by Michael Jones.
The author concluded that the recent election and change of leadership has shifted Somalia from acute to chronic crisis, but in doing so it has at least helped strengthen the normative tissue necessary for reform.
PM Abiy in Djibouti for official work visit
Source: Ethiopian News Agency, Saturday June 11, 2022
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has arrived in Djibouti for an official work visit.
Premier proceeded to Djibouti after attending the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected president of Somalia, according to Ethiopian Embassy in Djibouti.advertisementsSpeaking at the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu on Thursday, the PM said “I express and reiterate the commitment of the Government of Ethiopia to the people and Government of Somalia at large.”
He stated that the government of Ethiopia is committed to work together with Somalia in a more robust relationship to achieve a better future for the people and to determine mutual destiny together.
Source: The US Institute of Peace published on 1 June 2022 an analysis titled “Somalia’s Critical Transition Comes Amid Al-Shabaab and Hunger Challenges” by Susan Stigant.
The author comments on the major challenges facing new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, including security, debt relief, drought, and the al-Shabaab threat.
Source: The Middle East Institute published on 6 June 2022 my short note titled “A New US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa.“
It briefly covers the challenges of conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, the democratic transition in Sudan, the al-Shabaab threat in Somalia, and disagreement over Nile water usage following construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.
Talks to end Sudan crisis begin as anti-coup groups boycott
Source: AP, By SAMY MAGD, Yyesterday, 08 June 2022
1 of 5Sudanese men burn tires during a demonstration to commemorate the third anniversary of a deadly crackdown carried out by security forces on protesters during a sit-in outside the army headquarters, in Khartoum, Sudan, Friday, June 3, 2022. Talks aiming at ending Sudan’s ongoing political deadlock began Wednesday, June 8, 2022, the United Nations said, although the country’s main pro-democracy alliance is boycotting them over a continued police crackdown on those protesting last October’s military coup. (AP Photo/ Marwan Ali)
CAIRO (AP) — Talks aiming at ending Sudan’s ongoing political deadlock began Wednesday, the United Nations said, although the country’s main pro-democracy alliance is boycotting them over a continued police crackdown on those protesting last October’s military coup.
The joint peace effort is brokered by the U.N. political mission in Sudan, the African Union, and the eight-nation east African regional group Intergovernmental Authority in Development. The effort aims to bring the generals and an array of political and protest groups to the negotiating table.
The military’s takeover has upended Sudan’s short-lived fragile democratic transition and plunged the East African nation into turmoil. Sudan had been transiting to democracy after nearly three decades of repression and international isolation under Islamist-backed strongman Omar al-Bashir. A popular uprising pushed the military to remove al-Bashir in April 2019.ADVERTISEMENT
Wednesday’s talks began with a technical meeting in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, involving the military and civilians. It came after months of separate discussions with an array of groups, including the military and the pro-democracy movement.
The U.N. envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, said the process would discuss a “transitional program,” including the appointment of a civilian prime minister and arrangements for drafting a permeant constitution and elections at the end of the transition.POLITICSNew vaccine may be option for troops with religious concerns4th grade Uvalde survivor: ‘I don’t want it to happen again’Capitol attack’s full story: Jan. 6 panel probes US risksBiden lauds democratic unity despite no-shows at summit
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the leader of the coup who also heads the ruling sovereign council, welcomed the talks as a “historic opportunity to complete the transitional phase.”
In a speech to the nation late Tuesday, he urged all factions to take part in the talks, vowing that the military will implement their outcome. “We are fully committed to work with everybody to end the transitional period as soon as possible with fair and transparent elections,” he said.
Ahead of the talks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee visited Sudan earlier this week and met with military and civilian leaders in Khartoum to support the negotiating process. She urged all parties to join the talks to “achieve a civilian-led path towards democracy for Sudan.”
However, the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change — an alliance of political parties and protest groups — is boycotting the meeting, in a blow to the process.
The alliance says the talks should lead to “a civilian democratic authority” and criticized the participation of pro-military groups and Islamists who had been allied with al-Bashir’s government. It also seeks the the release of coup-related detainees, and the ending of violence against protesters.
Two activists said the U.N., the United States and other Western governments were pressuring the pro-democracy alliance to send representatives to the talks.
Some factions within the alliance favor participation as “the best possible option,” given the international support for the talks, they said, but hard-liners, including the influential Communist Party, reject the entire process and demand immediate handover of power to civilians. The activists spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.ADVERTISEMENT
The talks come as the violent crackdown on anti-coup protests continued in Khartoum. A 5-year-old girl was killed Tuesday, when a police vehicle ran her over while chasing protesters. That brought the total deaths among protesters since October to at least 101, according to a medical group tracking the casualties.
The coup has triggered near-daily street protests, which authorities have met with a deadly crackdown. Hundreds of people, including prominent politicians and activists, have been detained, although many have been released recently as part of trust-building measures.
Under concerted international pressure, Sudan’s military leaders late last month lifted the state of emergency they had declared following the coup.
Source: AFP, Thursday June 9, 2022
In this handout image released by Guardia Civil on January 9, 2022 a helicopter used to smuggle drugs is loaded on a truck by police after being seized in Torremolinos, Spain. (AFP)
Spain’s Guardia Civil police said Wednesday they had made Europe’s biggest seizure of substances derived from the khat plant, confiscating more than 3.2 tonnes of synthetic cathinones at Barcelona port.
The product is a derivative of a stimulant found in the leaves of the khat plant, which is native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.advertisements“The Guardia Civil has seized the biggest quantity of synthetic cathinones found in Europe to date,” a police statement said.
“They seized a total of 3.2 tonnes of this substance, which on the market would fetch 61 million euros ($65 million),” it added.
Images released by the police showed dozens of blue plastic drums used to transport the crystal-like substance, which commonly goes by the name “bath salts.”
Khat, or qat, is a mildly narcotic leaf which is packed into the cheek and slowly chewed, releasing chemicals similar to amphetamines and resulting in a mild high.
It is very popular in Yemen and Horn of Africa countries like Ethiopia and Somalia.
Its synthetic variants, however, are “more potent than the natural compound and much more dangerous,” the Guardia Civil warned.
The investigation began at the start of the year after an operation in France uncovered a possible storage location at Barcelona port, where the drugs were shipped out to other countries in Europe.
By falsifying customs certificates and working through three companies, the international ring running the operation was able to move a large quantity of the product, police said.
World Bank Provides $385 Million to Horn of Africa Countries to Tap Groundwater Potential and Boost Climate Resilience
World Bank Provides $385 Million to Horn of Africa Countries to Tap Groundwater Potential and Boost Climate Resilience
Source: World Bank Group
Thursday June 9, 2022
WASHINGTON, June 8, 2022—The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the Horn of Africa Ground Water for Resilience Project (HoAGWRP), a new multi-phase project benefitting from $385 million in International Development Association (IDA*) financing that will boost the region’s capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The project fosters cooperation with Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), who will work together to tap into the region’s largely untapped groundwater resources to cope with and adapt to drought and other climate stressors impacting their vulnerable borderlands. Djibouti and South Sudan have also expressed interest in joining the program in subsequent phases.advertisements“Groundwater constitutes a natural buffer against climate variability and change, as it is available in times of drought when other surface or subsurface resources are scarce,” said Daher Elmi Housssein, IGAD’s Director of Agriculture and Environment Division. “The potential is vast, and we are committed to building inclusive community-level use of this shared resource, along with better information, infrastructure, and institutions to ensure our groundwater is sustainably managed for generations to come.”
This first phase of the HoA Groundwater for Resilience Program (GW4R) is estimated to reach 3.3 million direct beneficiaries, of whom at least 50 percent are women, through interventions designed to increase access to water supply and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts. It will also contribute to improving food security in a region undergoing a severe drought. Project beneficiaries also include institutions responsible for groundwater management, including line ministries, government agencies, national authorities, and agencies at the national and sub-national levels.
In the short term, the project will establish the building blocks that will enable the medium and long-term agenda of improving transboundary water management in the Horn of Africa. IGAD will play a central role as the main promoter and facilitator of the long-term regional strategy, including data and information sharing. First-phase activities will include constructing medium and small-scale infrastructure to provide sustainable access to groundwater resources in the borderlands, developing information and knowledge on regional aquifers, and building institutional capacity on groundwater management and governance.
“World Bank experience shows that gaining knowledge on aquifers, building trust around shared groundwater resources, and jointly developing groundwater management mechanisms among countries involve a long-term trajectory that needs to be approached gradually. The role of a regional institution is key to achieving synergies, sustainability, and economies of scale,” said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Adopting a robust approach to monitoring and learning is critical throughout the stages mentioned above, to ensure incremental and enhanced institutional capacity, trust and collaboration. Program outcomes will be further strengthened through the support of the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) Program, aimed at enhancing the HoA’s institutional capacity and knowledge base on sustainable groundwater management in the borderlands.
*The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa. Learn more online: IDA.worldbank.org. #IDAworks
Presidents of Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopian PM arrive in Mogadishu
Source: Hiiraan online, Thursday June 9, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) – Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in Mogadishu on Thursday to join delegates from 20 countries for Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s inauguration ceremony.
advertisementsPrime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble warmly welcomed the presidents, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and other dignitaries at Mogadishu’s international airport. Today’s ceremony will take place at the Afisiyoni tent inside the airport, amid Somali police imposed a complete curfew in Mogadishu, covering both vehicle and pedestrian traffic until Thursday at 5:00 AM.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Shakhboot Bin Nahyan Al Nahyan arrived early.
Mohamud was voted out of power in 2017 but re-elected by Somalia’s parliament on 15 May in Mogadishu, defeating the outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo in indirect elections.
Foreign dignitaries begin to arrive in Mogadishu ahead of presidential inauguration
Source: Hiiraan online, Tuesday June 7, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) – Diplomats and foreign dignitaries have begun to arrive at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu on Tuesday ahead of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s presidential inauguration later this week.
advertisementsSo far, representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Turkey and Bahrain have already landed in Somalia’s capital.
A delegation of Somali ministers was present at the airport to receive the guests.
HOL has learned that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Djibouti President Ismail Omar Geelle, are the world leaders who have been confirmed to be attending the presidential inauguration on Thursday.
President Mohamud has promised a more balanced attitude to foreign relations and campaigned on promises of “no retaliation,” in stark contrast to former President Farmajo’s aggressive approach has isolated Somalia from historical friends.
Eritrea and Qatar are expected to send a delegation.
The top brass of Somalia’s security sector held a meeting on Tuesday to address the security challenges for the inauguration ceremony. Omar Mohamud Mohamed (Omar Filish), the mayor of Mogadishu, chaired the meeting, which was attended by the Minister of Security of the Federal Government of Somalia, the Commander of the Somali Police Force, the Commanders of the General Police and Security along with station officers and Banadir District Commissioners.
Many of the main thoroughfares through Somalia’s capital have been sealed off this morning, as residents reported seeing a dramatic uptick in police and armoured vehicles in the street.
Some of the roads closed on Tuesday are Maka Almukarama, Military Hospital, KM4 roundabout, Zobe junction and October 21st Road.
Residents say that the roads are also closed to pedestrian foot traffic.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected Somalia’s President for the second time in a decade on May 15, defeating incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in a landslide during the final round of voting.
‘Explosion of child deaths’ imminent in Horn of Africa if world does not act immediately
Source: UNICEF, Tuesday June 7, 2022
This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Rania Dagash – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
On 24 May 2022, Rania Dagash, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, (left) meets with mother Ismayel and her twins (Libaan Osman Derow and Salman Osman Derow) at the integrated health center in Dollow, Somalia. The twins suffer from malnutrition. Ismayel feels lucky that she made it on time to bring her twins to health center for treatment.
GENEVA, 7 June 2022 – “I am here today to tell you plainly that, if the world does not widen its gaze from the war in Ukraine, and act immediately, an explosion of child deaths is about to happen in the Horn of Africa.
Severe Acute Malnutrition
“An estimated 386,000 children in Somalia are now in desperate need of treatment for life-threatening severe acute malnutrition – now exceeding the 340,000 children who required treatment at the time of the 2011 famine.
advertisements”The number of children facing this most deadly form of malnutrition has increased by more than 15 per cent in the space of five months.
“Across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, more than 1.7 million children are in urgent need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
“Four rainy seasons have failed in the space of two years – killing crops and livestock and drying up water sources. Forecasts suggest the next October to December rains are likely to fail too.
“All three countries have recorded a significantly higher number of severely malnourished children admitted for treatment in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2021:
- In Ethiopia, admissions were 27 per cent higher.
- In Somalia, admissions were 48 per cent higher.
- In Kenya, admissions were 71 per cent higher.
“Death rates are also concerning. This year, in some of the worst affected areas in the Horn of Africa, three times as many children have already died from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications in in-patient treatment centres compared to the whole of the previous year.
“Between February and May, the number of households without reliable access to clean and safe water almost doubled – from 5.6 million to 10.5 million.
War in Ukraine
“The lives of children in the Horn of Africa are also at increased risk because of the war in Ukraine. Somalia alone used to import 92 per cent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine – but supply lines are now blocked. The war is exacerbating spiralling global food and fuel prices, meaning many people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia can no longer afford the basic foodstuffs they need to survive.
“These pressures are also impacting our response. The cost of the life-saving therapeutic food UNICEF uses to treat children with severe acute malnutrition is projected to rise by 16 per cent globally over the next six months, meaning UNICEF will require an estimated additional US$12 million more than expected in the Horn of Africa alone.
“UNICEF and other agencies have been repeatedly sounding the alarm bell on this crisis. We sincerely thank the donors who have made contributions – it is their support that has enabled us to respond the way we’ve been able to until now. But our appeal is still drastically underfunded – we have under a third of what we need this year.
“The international community – led by the G7 who will meet in Germany in June – needs to commit new, additional funding now to save lives. Focus on Ukraine cannot lead to neglect of other crises and ultimately more loss of life.
“We also want to see G7 leaders commit to acting early in future emergencies and investing in long term resilience work – like nutrition, water, education and cash transfer programmes. Somali children are living on the frontlines of the climate crisis now – this is not going away – we need to see significant step-change from the donor community to adequately support families to weather these cyclical climatic shocks.
“If I may, let me end by sharing the story of just two of those children facing the impending catastrophe I have outlined.
“I am just back from Somalia. At a health centre in the border town of Dollow I met Ismayel and her one-year-old twin boys – Salman and Libaan. She is pregnant but the devastating effects of the drought had forced her to walk 120km to get her sons treatment for malnutrition.
“Many children will not make it so far. I heard of children being buried along the roadside as their families make desperate, long treks to seek help.
“And we fear the worst is just around the corner.
Saudi Arabia concludes military drill with Red Sea countries
Source: The Defense Post
By JOE SABALLA
Tuesday June 7, 2022
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has concluded a five-day joint military drill with Red Sea coastal countries Djibouti, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia.
Dubbed “Red Wave-5,” the aim of the drill was to strengthen military cooperation and enhance the maritime security of countries bordering the region.advertisementsIt also allowed participating military units to exchange combat experiences to increase their readiness in addressing various maritime security issues.
“The Red Wave-5 maneuver witnessed implementing a number of combat training, citing the clearance of fortified sites, intrusion, and live fire shooting in support of combat aircraft and helicopters…” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
As part of the drill, naval units carried out counter-attacks against simulated enemy speedboats to protect vessels loaded with important cargo.
Saudi Arabia and its allies also reportedly utilized Apache helicopters to conduct aerial maneuvers for the first time since the exercise was launched in 2019.
Power Trials Commence at Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Despite Stalled Negotiations and Regional Tensions
Source: By Steve Floyd Thursday, May 19, 2022, 8:01 AM
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. (Ana E. Cascão, https://flic.kr/p/2m7jj5o; CC BY-NC 2.0,https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)
On Feb. 20, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to celebrate initial power generation trials. Ethiopians rejoiced as their decades-old dream neared completion. For years, the previous government described the dam as a “weapon” in Ethiopia’s war on poverty, a critical step toward environmental justice and an opportunity to undo Egypt’s “hydro-hegemony.” With funding from civil servant donations, diaspora support and the sale of bonds to private citizens, the GERD has become a symbol of national pride. Hashtags like #ItsMyDam, #GERDisYourDam and #EthiopiaPrevails trended this winter, and people across Africa praised the milestone on social media. The trials will produce 700 megawatts (MW) of electricity, but the dam will generate 5,150 MW once filled to capacity. Such sustainable power will prove a boon for Ethiopia’s economy, bring U.N. Sustainable Development Goals within reach and benefit the broader region.
But enthusiasm for the project is far from universal. Negotiations with Sudan and Egypt remain at an impasse, and these two downstream states have condemned Ethiopia’s decision to begin filling the dam without a binding agreement on water sharing. In a region beset with political turmoil and armed conflict, stalled negotiations heighten instability and increase the potential for conflict. Saber rattling and bellicose statements often punctuated the 10-year negotiations, and multiple crises now exacerbate this rhetoric. The region may soon experience extreme hunger after three seasons of drought. Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict has created a humanitarian disaster. And the presence of 55,000 Ethiopian refugees compounds Sudan’s domestic challenges. Moreover, clashes between Ethiopian militias and Sudanese troops over the disputed al-Fashqa border region turned lethal in 2021, and there is speculation that Egypt could provide support to Tigrayan forces. Such dynamics imbue the region with exceptional volatility and complicate negotiations. As Ethiopia prepares for a third filling in summer 2022, the GERD dispute will further inflame these interlocking tensions. Absent a negotiated agreement, the potential for conflict looms.
Overview of the Dispute
Spanning more than 4,000 miles, the Nile River winds across nine borders before it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Yet the Nile’s length belies its relatively small volume. Furthermore, 86 percent of its capacity originates in the “Blue Nile” of Ethiopia’s highlands. Waters flowing from the Blue Nile are critical for downstream economies, as they irrigate crops, support fisheries and attract tourists. In fact, for many rural communities downstream, the river constitutes the sole source of economic activity. But the Blue Nile also presents the potential for abundant hydroelectric power. And it is this prospect that has engendered protracted disputes between upstream and downstream states.
With a projected cost of $5 billion, the GERD will create a 74 billion cubic meters (bcm) reservoir 20 miles from the Sudanese border. Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, which owns and operates the GERD, expects the dam to generate more than 5,000 MW of electricity once operational. When negotiations failed to produce an agreement on rights and usage, Ethiopia unilaterally began to fill the dam in July 2020. A second phase of filling occurred in July 2021, and the dam has now stored 13.5 bcm of water.
The significance of this project for Ethiopia’s economic growth and development is not easily overstated. In 2016, Ethiopia had approximately 2,300 MW of installed generation capacity, and, as of 2019, the World Bank estimates that half of its population lacks regular access to electricity. Such abundant power would help Ethiopia achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal for affordable, accessible energy, and the dam could provide surplus electricity to the broader region.
But downstream states do not share this rosy assessment. Due to the Nile’s importance for the Sudanese and Egyptian economies, leaders in both countries grew concerned when Ethiopia initiated construction in 2011. For if Ethiopia fills the GERD to capacity, the stored water will equal 18 months’ worth of the Blue Nile’s flow. Egyptian and Sudanese citizens rely on the Nile for fresh water, and their agriculture depends on extensive irrigation networks. Both states fear that the dam could disrupt water flows, increase salinity levels and harm agricultural production. Indeed, the first GERD filling in July 2021 disrupted Khartoum’s water supply for three days, and irrigation pumping stations faced sudden shortages.
Moreover, both downstream states operate their own hydroelectric dams and require steady, consistent flows to meet their power needs. As Sudan is closer to the GERD, it is also concerned that increasing sediment levels or the rapid release of stored water could physically damage its smaller dams at Merowe and Roseires. For these reasons, Khartoum and Cairo expressed grave concern over Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the dam without an agreement. In April 2021, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned of “inconceivable instability in the region” if the GERD affected Egypt’s water supplies.
History of Negotiations
Trilateral talks, mediated by the U.S., opened soon after dam construction began, and initial efforts proved promising. In 2011, representatives from each country formed an International Panel of Experts (IPOE). When the panel submitted its report two years later, it called for joint studies to further explore technical issues. The states then agreed to a Declaration of Principles in 2015. Reflecting the principles of the 1997 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (U.N. Convention), the parties committed to the “equitable and reasonable utilization” of the river’s resources, acknowledged the “obligation not to cause significant harm,” and vowed to exchange data and information. Following the IPOE’s recommendation, the parties also agreed to establish a Tripartite National Committee (TNC) to conduct joint studies and solicit technical assessments from international consultants. Under the Declaration of Principles, the countries would provide the TNC with technical data needed to study water usage and establish safe operating parameters. Most importantly, all three states agreed to abide by the TNC and IPOE recommendations.
Unfortunately, despite the declaration’s aspirational language, subsequent negotiations bore little fruit. The TNC engaged international consultants to conduct technical assessments, but the parties could not agree on baseline terms of references for the analysis. In 2018, the three states established a National Independent Scientific Research Group (NISRG) to assess the dam’s hydrological, environmental and social impacts, but consultations broke down a year later without consensus.
Ultimately, Ethiopia walked away from the negotiations in February 2020. Abiy rejected a draft agreement prepared with the World Bank’s technical input, and Ethiopia unilaterally commenced filling the dam in July 2020. The African Union (AU) sponsored a new round of negotiations; however, these efforts ended in April 2021 without any breakthrough, and Sudan refused to sign the draft final communique. When Ethiopia conducted a second filling in July 2021, Egypt referred the matter to the U.N. Security Council over Ethiopia’s objections. In September 2021, the Security Council issued a statement in which it “encouraged” the states “to adhere to their obligations” under international law and reach a “binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD.” But little has changed on the ground, and fundamental disagreements remain. As Ethiopia intends to conduct a third filling in summer 2022, Egypt and Sudan fear they may soon face a fait accompli. Tensions remain high, and mutual recriminations continue.
Party Positions and Negotiating Hurdles
Regional leaders often speak of the Nile in poetic terms. Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi once called the river “the umbilical cord that connects” the region. In an April 2021 letter to the U.N. Secretary Council, Sudan described the Blue Nile as “an inseparable part of the history, culture, economy, and conscious[ness]” of the region’s people. At times, the parties’ positions have matched this lofty rhetoric. Meles regularly extolled the GERD as a tool for regional economic growth, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir recognized Ethiopia’s right to upstream development in 2012. But Sudan’s support soured when Prime Minister Abiy cast the dam in more nationalistic terms. The parties are now at odds, and each side assigns blame to the other. Five key issues currently impede a negotiated solution:
- Binding commitments for droughts. Egypt and Sudan desire clear commitments to ensure sufficient water is released during droughts or periods of low rainfall—something Ethiopia is reluctant to do. The parties have agreed on what constitutes a drought, but Ethiopia will not commit to release specified amounts of water. More broadly, Egypt and Sudan demand that all negotiated commitments be binding, while Ethiopia will commit only to voluntary guidelines and a nonbinding dispute resolution mechanism.
- Timeline for filling the GERD. A slower timeline will minimize the disruption for downstream users, but it would deprive Ethiopia of cheap, renewable energy for its people and economy. Although two fillings are complete, Ethiopia has previously expressed a willingness to fill the reservoir over a seven-year period and delay completion until 2027. Egypt, however, has argued that the reservoir be filled over an even longer period, possibly lasting 12 to 21 years. Analysts estimate that if the GERD remained offline for more than 12 years, Ethiopia would lose tens of billions of dollars in revenue.
- Role of mediators. In 2020, Sudan requested that the EU, U.S. and U.N. mediate negotiations alongside the AU to “narrow the gap” among the parties. According to Sudan, such a quartet would add credibility to parties’ assurances and guarantees. Ethiopia, however, rejects third-party mediation as outside the scope of the 2015 Declaration of Principles. Moreover, U.S. and EU influence with Addis Ababa remains at a nadir due to criticism over the Tigray conflict.
- Scientific and technical assessments. Under the 2015 declaration, the three nations pledged to provide data to the TNC. Such information would support studies to establish a technical baseline that addressed each parties’ concerns, like how filling will affect the accumulation of salts in agricultural lands. Egypt claims that Ethiopia failed to provide the necessary data, though Ethiopia dismisses these complaints. Furthermore, Ethiopia argues that the 2013 IPOE report already established that the GERD will not harm downstream states. But Egypt and Sudan note that the panel’s report was not conclusive, and it actually recommended a “comprehensive study” to model downstream effects. Although the NISRG sought such technical answers, it disbanded without forging a consensus on technical issues.
- Prior water-sharing agreements. Existing treaties and legacy colonial agreements also complicate negotiations. The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1929, along with a 1959 bilateral treaty between Sudan and Egypt, effectively allocated all water rights to the two downstream states and granted Egypt a veto over upstream projects. While Egypt and Sudan expressly recognized Ethiopia’s right to exploit the Blue Nile in the 2015 declaration, both states still view these treaties as binding international agreements. Ethiopia, however, rejects any agreement that indirectly recognizes these treaties, as it was not a party to those negotiations. As a compromise, Sudan offered to include a clause stating that the agreement does not constitute recognition of any legacy treaties by any signatory.
Such issues contributed to the breakdown of talks in April 2021, and changing domestic dynamics have complicated negotiations further. As Abiy confronts prolonged conflict and growing ethnic tensions at home, the GERD presents an opportunity to unify the state with nationalist rhetoric. But such language may have driven Sudan’s military leadership to align more closely with Egypt, adding to the general climate of mistrust.
The Potential for Conflict
Transboundary water disputes implicate core national interests: the use of natural resources, the potential for socioeconomic development and the fear of environmental degradation. In many cases, disputed waters are also powerful symbols that loom large in the national consciousness. For Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, the Nile carries this potent strategic and emotional mix. Such sentiments constrain policy options, calcify hardline positions and increase the chance of diplomatic failure. In these situations, armed conflict becomes a distinct possibility.
Each side has employed belligerent rhetoric in recent years. In April 2021, Sudan’s foreign minister feared that Ethiopia sought to “impose a fait accompli and put all the peoples of the region in grave danger.” Sudan’s irrigation minister then decried Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the dam a second time, warning that “Ethiopian intransigence would lead Sudan into all possible options to protect its security and its citizens.” Similarly, many observers have interpreted various Egyptian statements as veiled threats of war, especially as Cairo allegedly requested that Khartoum permit Egyptian commandos to conduct a strike from Sudanese territory should negotiations fail. In 2013, then-President Mohamed Morsi declared that “Egypt’s water supply cannot be violated at all” and warned that “all options are open.” Two months later, Egyptian ministers were unknowingly recorded on live television while discussing the situation. In the recording, ministers proposed that Egypt destabilize Ethiopia with military aid to the Oromo Liberation Front and spread rumors about bombing the dam. In March 2021, President al-Sisi declared the Nile’s water a “red line” and “untouchable.” For its part, the chief of Ethiopia’s Air Force recently extolled Ethiopia’s military capabilities, threatening multiple plans “to counter an enemy who knowingly … attempts to derail the [GERD] project.”
Such aggressive words can incite public passions and limit leaders’ policy choices when crises arise. Some rhetoric may be mere posturing, and President al-Sisi has downplayed talk of military options. But a region wrestling with political turmoil, civil conflict and famine can ill afford additional volatility. Furthermore, the climate of mistrust bleeds into other areas of tension, such as Ethiopia-Sudan border disputes and Addis Ababa’s fear of Egyptian support to Tigrayan separatists. The need for a diplomatic solution is pressing.
International Law and the Importance of Shared Facts
International law does provide guidance for transboundary water disputes. For instance, the 1997 U.N. Watercourse Convention requires states to ensure “equitable access” to transboundary waterways and avoid causing “substantial harm.” The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has reinforced these same principles. In Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay), the ICJ emphasized that parties must seek the “equitable utilization” of the river’s resources and respect other riparians’ “rights of economic development.” Similarly, in Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia), the ICJ found that Czechoslovakia’s unilateral control of the Danube deprived Hungary of its “right to an equitable and reasonable share of … natural resources” and highlighted the ecological effects of diverting upstream waters. But equity and harm are meaningless concepts without a mutually accepted technical baseline.
In the Blue Nile Basin, equity requires an understanding of water flows during periods of drought and the potential impact of climate change. Similarly, any appreciation of harm must assess preexisting sediment levels and consider how decreased water flow can affect downstream salinity. Such analysis is critical for settling transboundary water disputes. Indeed, the ICJ conducted its first fact-finding mission in 50 years for the Hungary/Slovakia case. And in Argentina v. Uruguay, the court deemed environmental impact assessments a requirement under international law. But such findings are even more vital in a region acutely vulnerable to climate change. To establish a scientific baseline will require time, expertise and cooperation, and it is imperative that the parties reengage on these technical issues.
Agreement on technical terms of reference could jump-start negotiations, while additional data on water flows, sedimentation, salinity levels and projected power output could help parties quantify the benefits of cooperation and allay public fears. For instance, in a 2021 study, environmental scientists at the University of Virginia, Chapman University and Egypt’s Alexandria University used commercial satellite imagery to study the effects of rainfall and runoff on the broader Blue Nile basin. After tracking water levels during GERD filling, their analysis suggested that the GERD could exacerbate drought during periods of low rainfall. This is precisely the type of data the parties agreed to research and share under the 2015 Declaration of Principles. The AU, EU and U.S. should pressure each state to follow through on this commitment and support technical exchanges that build on objective, third-party analyses.
The Road Ahead
The benefits of an agreement could not be greater. Successful negotiations would defray tensions in an increasingly volatile region. But it could also promote resilience for cyclical droughts and provide sustainable power for an energy-starved region. Addisu Lashitew, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Haim Kassa, a professor at Miami University, have noted that power interruptions decrease Ethiopian, Egyptian and Sudanese business revenue by, respectively, 6.9 percent, 6 percent and 1.2 percent annually. More consistent power would bolster economic performance, create jobs and reduce poverty for all three states. Such shared benefits could enable leaders to garner public support for compromise and dial down the bellicose rhetoric. Despite these possibilities, negotiations remain at an impasse, and a third unilateral filling is scheduled for summer 2022.
The international community has not remained silent. When Ethiopia walked away from the U.S.-led negotiations in 2020, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who hosted the talks, urged Ethiopia not to fill the GERD unilaterally. Once Ethiopia chose to proceed, the Trump administration paused $100 million in aid. More recently, President Biden has acknowledged Egypt’s concerns and reiterated the U.S. interest “in a diplomatic resolution that meets the legitimate needs” of all three states. Similarly, the EU has urged all parties to establish a clear road map for renewed negotiations, emphasized the importance of an agreement for foreign investment and extolled the potential benefits for the basin’s 250 million people. And after the second filling in 2021, the U.N. Security Council explicitly called on all parties to resume negotiations. But such calls are unlikely to change the parties’ hardened positions, and a negotiated solution may ultimately prove elusive.
Continued international pressure remains critical. On Jan. 25, David Satterfield, the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with the Egyptian foreign minister and discussed the stalled negotiations. On March 21, he then traveled to Ethiopia for consultations about the Tigray conflict with U.N., AU and Ethiopian officials. Unfortunately, tension over Sudan’s military coup and Ethiopia’s operations in Tigray may limit U.S. leverage with Khartoum and Addis on other issues. Moreover, Satterfield has announced that he will step down in May after only four months on the job, creating a diplomatic gap that could impede U.S. engagement. Nevertheless, Ethiopia appointed Seleshi Bekele as ambassador to the United States in March. As Seleshi previously served as Ethiopia’s minister of water, irrigation and energy and as the chief negotiator for the GERD, his selection may indicate a renewed willingness to engage on the GERD and curry U.S. support. That said, where Brussels and Washington lack influence, they should work through the other regional actors to incentivize cooperation. Pressure from other upstream states and influential Arab League members like the United Arab Emirates could encourage the parties to establish technical terms of reference, facilitate scientific exchange and reengage in good-faith negotiations. Such steps would provide confidence-building measures and jump-start the stalled negotiations.
Ultimately, the GERD dispute remains inextricably linked to broader regional concerns and should not be ignored. As a critical component of long-term regional stability, a negotiated agreement would assuage trilateral tensions, foster growth for the entire Nile basin and provide a diplomatic success for the African Union. Failure, however, raises the specter of protracted instability and renders each party more vulnerable to climate change. A binding trilateral solution, grounded in the principle of equitable use, must be found.Topics:
Source: hiiraan Online, Monday June 6, 2022
Hargeisa (HOL) – Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi said that peace and social cohesion in Somaliland have attracted the attention of investors, and improving the interior would lead to international recognition.
Speaking at the Brenthurst Foundation African Security Dialogue conference in Hargeisa on Sunday, President Bihi underlined that the people of Somaliland believe that peace is their top priority, which has attracted many governments and institutions to trust and invest in Somaliland.
advertisementsHe added that the Berbera project exemplifies peace and trust among Somaliland’s people.
“We believe that recognition can be achieved through improving our interiors, not externally. We don’t anticipate a government to recognize Somaliland as an independent. We believed in cleaning up our homes first to show the world that Somaliland can be trusted and worked with.” President Bihi is quoted as saying.
“In terms of politics, culture, economy, and peace, we aspire to be an example to most African countries, not only Somalis.” He added.
During the question and answers session, the President answers questions related to peace, economics, and democracy. Ugandan opposition leader and singer Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known as Bobi Wine, who is among the delegates invited to the conference, has asked the President why the SNM returned power to the people. Still, most other freedom fighters, such as Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, did not?
The President responded, “As SNM leaders, our first rule was to fight for independence and remove the stubborn leader, then we asked ourselves why are we fighting? Should the people decide their future, or should we, as leaders, make the decisions?
On May 18, 1991, Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia but has not received legal recognition from the international community.
The Somaliland Electoral Commission has completely disbanded following a dispute ahead of the controversial presidential election scheduled for November 13.
The three remaining commission members, including the newly elected chairman Kaltuun Sheikh Hassan Abdi, have submitted their resignation letters to the President of Somaliland on Saturday.
The chairman of the opposition UCID party said it is unfortunate the disbandment of the commission, and they will hold a meeting to save Somaliland and its security.
Source: Economist, Friday June 3, 2022
An interview with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
When Hassan Sheikh Mohamud entered Villa Somalia as president in 2012, his writ ran little farther than the sandbagged gates of the bullet-pocked, Italian-built, Art Deco palace of the head of state. Though the central government had recently wrested control of most of Mogadishu, the capital, and had recaptured some strategic towns here and there, vast swathes of the country’s centre and south remained in the hands of al-Shabab, a jihadist group with links to al-Qaeda.
Terrorist attacks were routine: just two days after his election, Mr Mohamud narrowly survived an assassination attempt. After two decades of anarchy and civil war, Somalia then looked less like a country than a gaggle of warring fiefs. “We started from scratch,” says Mr Mohamud of his first term as president.
advertisementsToday he finds himself in a similar position. On June 9th he will be sworn in as president again, the first time since independence in 1960 that a Somali has held the office twice. But since he handed over the reins in 2017 to Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, the country has slid backwards. Last year a crisis sparked by Farmaajo’s attempt to stay in office by delaying elections threatened a return to full-scale civil war. Though the outgoing president eventually handed over power peacefully, he left behind a country more divided, more diplomatically isolated and less secure than it has been for years. Many Somalis and their country’s foreign allies have welcomed the return of the seasoned Mr Mohamud as the man to fix the violent mess. Can he do so?
Speaking to The Economist in a heavily fortified hotel in Mogadishu, he says it was the sight of his successor ripping up the fragile gains of the previous decade that prompted him to run for office again. The populist Farmaajo sidelined the leaders of Puntland and Jubaland, two powerful regional states, and wangled loyalists into running the other three. He lashed out at critics and packed his cronies into the federal security forces, which then threatened to disintegrate violently along clan lines. Whoever has run Somalia, a labyrinth of clan loyalties has long prevented the emergence of a true sense of national unity.
Farmaajo upset foreign allies, too. He drew closer to Qatar and Turkey at the expense of other influential states in the Gulf. He picked fights with neighbouring Kenya and Djibouti. His cosying up to Eritrea and its vicious dictator, Issaias Afwerki, was particularly unpopular.
By contrast the avuncular Mr Mohamud, an academic and civil-rights campaigner, has a more conciliatory flavour. He has moved fast to mend bridges with opponents at home and abroad. Said Deni, president of Puntland, the oldest and strongest of the five federal states (excluding the breakaway would-be country of Somaliland), notes that one of Mr Mohamud’s first moves after winning the election was to invite all Somalia’s regional leaders to a meal together. He promised them he would share power and complete a new federal constitution. “It was a good speech,” concedes Mr Deni grudgingly (the two ran against each other in the election).
Foreign leaders have also rushed to support the new man. Kenya’s president is to attend the inauguration—a sign that diplomatic relations, so prickly under Farmaajo that they were severed entirely for several months, may be on the mend. “We cannot afford any outside enemies,” Mr Mohamud explains. Meanwhile America, which in February took the unusual step of banning visas for Somali officials who disrupted the electoral process, says it will send hundreds of troops back into Somalia to help the government fight al-Shabab. “[Mr Mohamud] is somebody we can work with,” says an American official.
But he can expect a rough ride. Al-Shabab, which was knocked back in his first term, is resurgent and still controls much of the countryside (see map). “Most of the districts we liberated have been lost again,” he laments. Though al-Shabab rejected the election, it may well have hoped that Farmaajo would win. On his watch it was widely believed that the jihadists had infiltrated state institutions, especially the security apparatus. “The previous government had no plan to fight al-Shabab,” says Mr Deni. The group has spread across the country. Few places are safe from the jihadists. To journey just a few hundred metres down the road from the international “green zone” by the airport to meet the president, your correspondent had to be accompanied by seven soldiers in a jeep and a mounted machinegun.
Al-Shabab is well entrenched in the territories it controls. Its people still extort cash from businesses and conscript children into their guerrilla units. They also run courts and provide basic goods and services. The new president says that al-Shabab today collects more tax revenue than the federal government does. Local businessmen say the group mediates legal disputes more cleanly and efficiently than the official courts. “They’ve established a state within a state,” says the president.
So does he have a coherent plan for fighting them? “To defeat al-Shabab the government must out-compete it on service delivery,” argues Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh, a former commander of the Danab, an American-trained fighting unit. Mr Mohamud, a moderate Islamist with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, also stresses ideology. “Our vision is to take the Islamic narrative from al-Shabab and show the people that the state protects their faith. This means waging a multi-front war.”
That may be a bit glib. A lasting solution will probably also require negotiations with al-Shabab. During his previous term Mr Mohamud tried to win over defectors with promises of an amnesty, mainly in vain. Now he concedes that the battle will end at the negotiating table—but not yet. The last big offensive against al-Shabab was in 2019. Mr Mohamud says he intends to launch a new one, first to contain the jihadists, then to push them back deeper into the countryside. In theory talks could then begin. In practice this could take years. Al-Shabab has certainly proved resilient as well as ruthless.
Mr Mohamud’s previous term was a mixed bag. His cabinet was fractious and unstable. Corruption was especially rampant. Like his successor he failed to organise a direct election on time, settling instead for an indirect one whereby members of parliament were elected by delegates chosen by about 14,000 clan elders. He too was indirectly elected. This time, though, he comes armed with experience and a reservoir of goodwill. He will need to seize advantage of both. ■
Source: The International Crisis Group published on 31 May 2022 a commentary titled “A Welcome Chance for a Reset in Somalia” by Omar Mahmood.
The author looks at the challenges facing newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and makes some suggestions for dealing with those challenges.
Source: The Rift Valley Institute published 3 separate accounts for the causes of drought in Somali regions of the Horn of Africa.
One is dated 1 April 2022 and titled “Drought in Ethiopia’s Somali Region and Cross-border Strategies for Survival” by Musafe M. Abdi.
The second is dated 24 March 2022 and titled “Bay and Bakool: How Somalia’s Breadbasket Turned into an Epicenter of Humanitarian Crisis” by Abdirahman Edle.
The third is dated 22 March 2022 and titled “What Are the Causes of Somaliland’s Drought Crisis?” by Ahmed M. Musa.