Gorfayn Weekly Briefs, Thursday 14 September 2023

HSM
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud holds a meeting with army commanders ahead of the conclusion of the first phase of Operation Black Lion | Photo: Villa Somalia FB

Executive Summary:
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with army commanders to discuss plans for eliminating al-Shabaab. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre briefed former president Farmaajo on security during Qatar visit amid social media clashes between their supporters. Galmudug’s vice president accused the president of sabotaging anti-al-Shabaab operations. A report revealed corruption in Somalia’s Central Bank including Russian oligarch involvement. Somalia and Ethiopia held a joint ministerial meeting in Mogadishu to strengthen ties. Somaliland pardoned anti-government fighters to resolve a prolonged electoral dispute. Somalia will begin legally exporting fish and fruits to Ethiopia per a bilateral trade agreement. Somalia signed the UN’s Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
       Over 100 al-Shabaab militants defected amid government amnesty offers and offensives. KDF jets bombed areas in Gedo amid operations. Galmudug denied its forces were involved in clashes in an Ethiopian border town. The US military said civilians were killed in a joint operation with Somalia in Galgaduud. The US offered up to $10 million for information on al-Shabaab’s leader. An AU delegation visited Somalia ahead of the troop drawdown. SSC dismissed Somaliland claims that al-Shabaab fighters were present in Laas Aanood.

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POLITICS
Highlights of the week:
       President Hassan Sheikh holds meeting with commanders of the national army
The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, met with the commanders of the Somali National Army, to verify the plan to eradicate the al-Shabaab terrorists from the country. The commanders of the SNA shared with the President their short-term plans to eliminate the terrorists from the country and praised their self-reliance and pride in defending the nation day and night. The President of the Republic stated that the government has a clear plan for the completion of the needs of the army and their training, and urged the officers, and the army as a whole, to increase their role in overcoming the insurgency that harms the people and the country.

       Somalia’s PM pays courtesy call on former president Mohamed Farmaajo in a visit to Qatar
Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre on Wednesday paid a courtesy call on former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo during an official state visit to Qatar. The Premier briefed Farmaajo about the current security situation in Somalia, where government forces continue a year-long offensive against al-Shabaab despite increasing resistance from the al-Qaeda affiliate. The meeting comes amid social media clashes between supporters of the current administration and those of the former president, with both sides accusing each other of colluding with al-Shabaab. In recent remarks, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud accused supporters of the former president, who make social media posts revealing setbacks in the offensive against militants, of being “Al-Shabaab supporters.”  In another comment, Mohamud described them as “idiots.”

       Galmudug leaders at loggerheads: President and Vice President clash over anti-al-Shabab operations
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-Shabaab military operations in Galmudug State. The accusation came after Vice President Eid suspended Galmudug Interior Minister Abdi Mohamed Diiriye (Waayeel), 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-Shabaab from Galmudug State.

       Report reveals corruption and Russian Oligarchy’s connection in Somalia’s Central Bank
A 62-page report presented by Member of Parliament, Abdullahi Hashi Abib, Chair of the Accountability and Transparent Caucus of the House of the People, has revealed significant corruption within the Central Bank of Somalia. The report exposes widespread embezzlement, including from grants from international organisations. The report also highlights the involvement of a Russian oligarch-owned company contracted to create a payment switch system for ATMs and Point of Sale operations within the Central Bank. The contract, awarded to BPC Technology, also known as BPC Smartvista FZ-LLC, based in Dubai, was reportedly never advertised as legally required.

       The first Ethio-Somalia Joint Ministerial Commission kicks off in Mogadishu
Salah Ahmed Jama, Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia, welcomed his Ethiopian counterpart, Demeke Mekonnen Hassan, and his delegation to Mogadishu on Thursday. The two leaders discussed the two countries’ interests and how to strengthen cooperation between the various sectors that link the Somali and Ethiopian governments. The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation in trade, economic development, education, security, and combating the Kharijite group al-Shabaab. The Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the hospitality and warm reception he received from his Somali counterpart and the people of Somalia. He reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to continue supporting Somalia in its quest for development and democracy.

       Somaliland grants pardon to ant-government fighters, resolving prolonged electoral dispute
Somaliland authorities have extended a pardon to the anti-government clan militia who had taken refuge in the Ga’an Libaah Mountains, effectively ending a protracted electoral disagreement. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Somaliland issued a statement on 5 September, confirming the government’s decision and declaring the matter closed. Traditional elders successfully mediated an agreement between the government and opposition groups. The political discord between the government and the opposition was over the sequencing of the election of political organisations and the presidential election. However, the committee has determined that the elections for political organisations and the presidency will be conducted on 13 November 2024.

       Somalia to begin fish and fruits exportation to Ethiopia.
Somalia is set to begin legally exporting fish and fruit goods to neighbouring Ethiopia thanks to bilateral trade agreement previously inked by both countries. The trade agreement aims to reduce smuggling, which previously forced Somalia to cease cattle exports. It also includes provisions for cross-national commerce in services and some items, such as the stimulant herb khat. A joint Ministerial Commission meeting between Ethiopia and Somalia was held in Mogadishu where the two countries put pen to paper on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen bilateral trade ties. Gebremeskel Chala, Ethiopia’s Minister of Trade and Regional Integration told reporters that the deal aims to promote mutual benefits in the trade sector between the two nations.

       Somalia signs the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The Federal Government of Somalia has signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) becoming the 187th country in the world to pen the treaty. Somalia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Abukar Dahir Osman signed the treaty during an official ceremony in New York which was witnessed by Chief of the Treaty Section of the UN Office of Legal Affairs David Nanopoulos, taking a crucial step towards boosting global peace and security. The move comes after the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the East African state, Abshir Omar Jama Huruse made a pledge to sign the Treaty at the high-level opening of the CTBT Science and Technology Conference in Vienna on 19 June 2023.

SECURITY
Highlight of the Week:
       Over 100 al-Shabaab militants defect as Somali forces up the pressure against group
Over 100 al-Shabaab militants have defected to the government side following an amnesty offer and increasing offensives by the Somali Security Forces. National Counter-Terrorism Centre director Abdullahi Nor told journalists in Mogadishu that the amnesty offers and the government-led operations have exerted pressure on al-Shabaab resulting in the defection of 107 militants. The Counter-Terrorism Centre announced an amnesty offer on August 22 but did not set timelines. Analysts said the offer was a move by the government to provide exit avenues for al-Shabaab militants who were facing increasing pressure from the government with the net effect of weakening the terrorist group structure.

       KDF jets bomb villages in Gedo amid intensified military operations
The reports from the Gedo region indicate that KDF jets bombed several areas located in the vicinity of El Wak town, which sits on the Somalia-Kenya border. Residents confirmed to Radio Shabelle by phone that the fighter jets dropped missiles on Khadija Hajji and Fahfahdhuun, all controlled by al-Shabaab militants. The target was al-Shabaab bases, but not clear if the local civilians suffered casualties as a result of the bombardment which comes amid intensified military operations in Somalia. The Kenyan military is yet to release a statement regarding the shelling of the civilian areas in the Gedo region, which saw frequent attacks that killed dozens of villagers in the past.

       Galmudug denies its forces involved in a clash in an Ethiopian town
Galmudug’s administration has dismissed accusations that its regional forces were involved in a fighting in a border town in Ethiopia. Information Minister Abshir Sheikhow said the fighting was between local communities in Kiil near the Shillaabo district of Ethiopia’s Qorrahey region. The Somali Regional Government in Ethiopia had accused Galmudug forces of involvement in the fighting in the border town.

       US military says civilians “injured and killed” in Somalia operation
US military said on Friday civilians were injured and killed during an operation against al-Shabaab in a rural area in central Somalia’s Galgaduud region. The operation jointly conducted by the US military and Somali army took place in Oodweyne village in the central region on September 6, which resulted in the killing of three al-Shabaab operatives, according to AFRICOM. Media affiliated with al-Shabaab reported that 6 civilians, including four children were killed in an air strike conducted by the US military, adding that American forces landed on the ground and took away the bodies in an attempt to “conceal” the truth.

       US offers reward of up to USD 10 million for information on Abu Ubaidah
The United States is offering a reward of up to USD 10 million for information on the leader of al-Shabaab, Ahmed Diiriye, also known as Ahmed Umar and Abu Ubaidah. Abu Ubaidah has occupied the position since the death of Ahmed Abdi Godane. Before replacing Godane, Abu Ubaidah served in several positions within AS, including as Godane’s assistant, the Deputy Governor of the Lower Juba region of Somalia in 2008, and the Governor of the Bay and Bakool regions of Somalia in 2009. By 2013, he was a senior adviser to Godane and served in AS Interior Department, overseeing AS domestic activity.

       AU delegation pays week-long visit to Somalia ahead of troop drawdown
The African Union has dispatched a delegation to Mogadishu ahead of the expected withdrawal of 3,000 AU soldiers from Somalia in the second phase of the drawdown. The AU delegation from the Peace and Security Council is led by the Permanent Representative of the Subcommittee on Refugees, Returning Refugees, and Displaced Persons, Jainaba Jagne. She arrived in the capital on 9 September for a week-long visit to Somalia to meet with stakeholders and assess the country’s humanitarian situation. The delegation is expected to hold meetings with senior leaders in the Federal Government of Somalia, charitable organisations, civil society organisations, IGAD, and other stakeholders.

       SSC-Khaatumo calls Somaliland claim about presence of al-Shabaab fighters in Laas Aanood ‘ridiculous’
Authorities of Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (SSC) on Monday dismissed Somaliland claim that hundreds of al-Shabaab fighters led by top militant leader Fuad Shangole had arrived in Laas Aanood town. In a statement, SSC government said Somaliland has been spreading lies over the past 9 months with the intent of tarnishing the image of the uprising of Laas Aanood residents, adding that the break-away region’s recent statement was “ridiculous.”


With our keen focus on accurate, insightful, and comprehensive coverage, Gorfayn Weekly Briefs aims to keep you well-informed on the shifting dynamics of power, policy reform, security measures, and peacekeeping efforts, delivering a clear-eyed understanding of the complexities shaping the nation’s progress.

Rights
Copyright: Gorfayn (2023). This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC-BY-NC 4.0) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work’s authorship and initial publication in this publication.

The Gorfayn Team
The Gorfayn Teamhttp://gorfayn.org
Gorfayn is your home for fact-based analysis on Somali politics, public policy, and security.

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