Gorfayn Weekly Briefs, Thursday 21 September 2023

HSM
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sings the audit bill into law in Dhusamareb on 14 September 2023 | Photo: Villa Somalia FB

Executive Summary:
This week saw several key developments in Somali politics and security. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed the Federal Audit Bill into law to strengthen accountability and governance. Somalia also launched biometric national IDs to improve citizen identification and counterterrorism efforts. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said the withdrawal of troops from central towns was a tactical move amid fierce fighting, while planning continues for emergency response to anticipated El Nino rains.

       On the security front, joint government forces regained control of several strategic areas in central Somalia from al-Shabaab militants, destroying vehicles and eliminating over 30 militants. However, Ethiopian troops were ambushed by al-Shabaab while travelling near the border town of Rabdhure, with militants claiming to have killed 167 soldiers. A suicide car bombing targeted the Galmudug regional president, who survived unharmed while two lawmakers were injured. The African Union Mission in Somalia commenced the second phase of withdrawing troops by handing over a base in Middle Shabelle to the Somali National Army. Overall, Somalia continued consolidating governance while conducting operations against militants, though instability remains.

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POLITICS
Highlights of the week:
       Somali President signs Audit Bill into law
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has signed the Federal Audit Bill into law. The President assented the bill into law on Thursday after both chambers of the federal parliament approved the bill. Members of the House of the People (Lower House) and Senate (Upper House) both voted for it. The act signals the commitment of the government to strengthen accountability in the public sector. It also seeks to promote good governance around the country.

       Somalia launches biometric IDs in major boost to security and economic development
Somalia has rolled out the issuance of biometric national IDs in a first marking a major milestone in citizen identification and the fight against terrorism. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Hamza Barre were the first to receive the new IDs which identify holders by name date place of birth, unique number and signature. It was not immediately clear which other security features the new document contained. President Mohamud said the roll-out of the new IDs was ‘a key milestone in our state-building process as this crucial document shall enhance security, public service provision and provide our citizens with a means to establish their identity.’.

       Somalia’s PM says troop withdrawal from central towns was ‘tactical’ move
Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has said withdrawal of federal government troops from many towns in the central region of Galgaduud was a tactical move. In an interview with Al Jazeera English, the Somali Premier said militants showed stiff resistance during operations aimed at completing the first phase of an offensive against them. “Most of the pulling out by the army were tactical moves,” Barre said. “Fighting was fierce as we reached the strongholds of those terrorists. Now they wish to prove their existence and undefeated,” he added.

       Jubaland’s Madoobe picks representative to Kenya
Jubaland President Ahmed Madoobe has announced the appointment of a representative to advance the state interests in Kenya. A decree from the state president noted that President Madoobe had picked Sadik Abdullahi Bogale to be Jubaland’s representative to Kenya. The statement noted that the appointment was informed by article 72 of the state constitution which empowered the president to appoint members of the executive. However, the role of a foreign representative at the state level is not provided for in the Provisional Constitution. The Provisional Constitution exclusively allocates the powers of foreign relations to the Federal Government. Federal Member States have however adopted the practice of developing bilateral relations with foreign countries albeit on a limited scope.

       Beledweyne airport shuts down amidst tax revenue dispute 
Beledweyne’s Ugaas Khalif Airport has remained closed since last Friday due to a dispute among Hirshabelle state officials over tax revenue. According to one airline official based in Beledweyne, Hirshabelle Vice President Yusuf Ahmed Hagar Dabageed and Hirshabelle’s Minister of Transport and Aviation, Musa Salad, are at odds over the airport’s tax income. This closure is not the first time Beledweyne Airport has faced such a situation related to revenue disputes, with the primary concern being the impact on the residents of Beledweyne. Both federal and regional state authorities have refrained from commenting on the closure of Ugaas Khalif Airport in Beledweyne. This issue arises as the federal government continues military operations in Galmudug and Hirshabelle States.

       El-Nino preparations take shape in Somalia
SoDMA chairman Mahmoud Ma’allin Abdulle spearheaded a high-level consultative meeting at the Somali Disaster Management Agency (SoDMA) headquarters in Mogadishu to discuss emergency response to the El-Nino rains. The meeting brought together government officials, partner organizations, civil society, and women’s groups to address the global challenge of El-Nino. Collective action and coordination among all actors were emphasized to effectively address its impact. Participants actively shared valuable insights, innovative ideas, and suggestions on proactive disaster preparation and response.

       US Concerned about Laas Aanood’s Prisoners of War
The United States is concerned about the condition of prisoners of war captured in the ongoing clashes in Laas Aanood. Through its embassy in Mogadishu, the US government expressed unhappiness with the welfare of those detained over the last few weeks as the clashes rage. In its statement, the US Embassy called upon all sides to embrace dialogue as a solution for their differences.

SECURITY
Highlight of the Week:
       Government forces retake several strategic areas in central Somalia
The Somali National Army (SNA), supported by Galmudug regional forces and local clan militias, has recaptured several strategic areas in central Somalia following a massive operation. The Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism of the Federal Government of Somalia, Daud Aweis Jama, announced at a press conference in Mogadishu on Sunday that the joint forces liberated Ba’adweyne, Amara, Qodqod, Sardo, Shabeelow, Huldonyale, Galharre, Qey’ad, and Hinlabi in the Mudug region. During the operations, the Somali National Army (SNA) destroyed four al-Shabaab vehicles, confiscated weapons, and eliminated over 30 al-Shabaab militants, as reported by the minister.

       Ethiopian military convoy ambushed in south Somalia
Al-Shabaab fighters on Sunday ambushed a convoy of Ethiopian troops travelling near the border town of Rabdhure in Somalia’s Bakool region. The ambushed Ethiopian soldiers had crossed over the border into Somalia to reinforce their forward operating base in the town of Waajid, which has been under militant blockade for nearly a decade. In a statement, al-Shabaab said it had killed 167 Ethiopian soldiers and captured others as prisoners of war. Militants also claimed destroying military vehicles, halting the advance of Ethiopian troops and seizing a cache of weapons. Somali officials have confirmed the attack and the ensuing gun battle but have yet to give details. Ethiopia’s military and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) have not immediately commented on the attack.

       Regional State President survives suicide bombing in central Somalia
The president of Somalia’s Galmudug regional state was unhurt but two federal lawmakers were wounded when a bomb-laden car exploded in a central Somali village on Friday, according to witnesses and officials. The al-Shabaab militant group said it was behind the suicide attack that appears to have targeted regional president Ahmed Abdi Kaariye, also known as Qoorqoor. The officials were in Laas Ga’amey, a small village in the Mudug region when the blast struck, the commander of Galmudug regional troops, General Mohamed Nur Ali Gadar, told VOA.

       ATMIS troops hand over a base to SNA
The ATMIS (African Union Mission for the Support of Somalia) forces have commenced the Second Phase of the withdrawal of troops from Somalia. ATMIS has handed over a base in Biyo Adde district in the Middle Shabelle region, which will accommodate the Somali National Army forces and was previously under the control of Burundian Defence Forces. The Commander of ATMIS troops at the Biyo Adde base, Lt. Col. Philip Butoyi, officially handed over the base to Maj. Muhudiin Ahmed, a member of the Somali National Army. The first phase of the withdrawal was concluded in June, during which ATMIS withdrew 2000 troops and handed over six bases previously held, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670 (2022). In close cooperation with the United Nations and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), ATMIS previously conducted a comprehensive assessment for the first phase, and now plans to withdraw an additional 3000 troops from the country by the end of September, as per UNSC Resolution 2687.


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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