Somalia: Gorfayn Weekly Briefs, Thursday 19 October 2023

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud welcomes troops from Eritrea | Photo: Villa Somalia FB

Executive Summary:
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud welcomed troops returning from training in Eritrea, thanking them for their service and sacrifice. The cabinet met to discuss fighting al-Shabaab and finalising the constitution before the 2026 election. PM Hamza Abdi Barre met with business leaders about modernising governance and boosting economic cooperation. SSC leader Abdulkadir Firdhiye said the region’s politicians won’t participate in Puntland’s election, as they seek federal recognition as Somalia’s 6th regional state. Puntland’s opposition rejected the election commission President Deni formed to oversee a one-person, one-vote election in 3 months, accusing him of trying to illegitimately extend his term.
       AU envoy Mohamed El-Amine Souef urged lifting the arms embargo to aid forces battling al-Shabaab. Officials met on the EU-Somalia roadmap, stressing security, economic growth, and social welfare. Puntland accused Somaliland of causing unrest in Eerigaabo, warning it to withdraw troops or face consequences. Somaliland President Muuse Biihi Abdi warned against establishing administration in SSC regions, which he vowed to defend. UN envoy Catriona Laing will brief the UNSC on Somalia’s security, politics, and humanitarian situation. Raids targeted key al-Shabaab bases in Middle Jubba. Government forces and Ma’awisleey militia captured Ruun Nirgood from the militants. The interior minister said police and intelligence defected to al-Shabaab, alleging infiltration under the previous president.

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Highlights of the week:
       President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Receives troops return from Eritrea
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia personally welcomed the returning troops who were in training for five years in Eritrea. He said that their reassuring courage fills him with belief, along with every other Somali that Somalia’s liberation for a lasting peace is imminent. Addressing the troops, President Hassan expressed his deep appreciation for their unwavering commitment and sacrifices. He said they have paid a price higher than that of ordinary soldiers and endured hardships and suffering during their training and the government will offer them a brief respite to reunite with their friends and families.

       Somalia’s president chairs cabinet meeting
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Thursday chaired a cabinet meeting, a day after returning from a trip to Eritrea. The meeting focused on the fight against al-Shabaab and the completion of the constitution before the 2026 presidential vote. Mohamud also attended a ceremony where members of the cabinet made blood donations for the armed forces participating in the fight against militants in the central regions of the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation.

       Somalia’s PM meets business leaders
Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre on Tuesday met business leaders in Mogadishu for talks on efforts, including the role they are seeking to play in the modernisation of the war-torn country’s governance system, his office said. “PM Barre stressed the importance of creating a conducive environment for mutual cooperation between the public and private sectors, in a bid to harmonise the country’s economic development priorities,” the office of the Somali Premier tweeted.

       SSC leader says regional politicians will not participate in upcoming Puntland election
The leader of northern Somalia’s Sool, Sanaag, and Ayn state (SSC) Abdulkadir Firdhiye said on Tuesday politicians from the region will not participate in an upcoming election in neighbouring Puntland state. Speaking during a visit to the Somali capital Mogadishu, Firdhiye stated that residents and elders in the region decided not to select MPs who would represent them in Puntland state. The remarks come as local authorities seek recognition from the federal government as the country’s 6th regional state, months after dislodging Somaliland troops in major towns in the region.

       Puntland Opposition Rejects Election Commission
In a developing political standoff, the opposition group in Puntland has publicly rejected the legitimacy of the Puntland Independent Election Commission (PEC). This move comes in response to President Deni’s announcement that the PEC would oversee a one-person, one-vote election within three months. The opposition, in a press release, firmly stated that the formation of the election commission was carried out unlawfully, rendering any actions it takes null and void. They accused President Deni of attempting to extend his term through illegitimate means, which they say is a threat to Puntland’s peace and stability.

       AU calls for removal of arms embargo on Somalia
The head of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has called on international partners to support Somalia’s bid to lift UN arms embargo. Speaking to VOA Somali service, Mohamed El-Amine Souef has urged the world to back Somali government forces who are battling the al-Shabaab militant group on multiple fronts in the country. Souef said the AU troops are waiting for helicopters to arrive from Burundi, subject to clearance from the Somali government, to add to the two helicopters they already received from Uganda.

       Somalia-EU Joint Operational Roadmap meet in Mogadishu
The Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia, Salah Ahmed Jama, chaired the Somalia-EU Joint Operational Roadmap meeting in Mogadishu, which focused on the progress made in the development of national policies in various areas. The conference, attended by ministers from the federal government and officials from the European Union, highlighted issues related to politics, security, stability; economic development; and social matters. Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia, Salah Ahmed Jama, emphasised the government’s commitment to advancing the issues of development, particularly in the areas of security, economic growth, and the welfare of the people.

       Puntland warns Somaliland over Eerigaabo clashes
The Puntland administration has accused Somaliland of causing tensions and insecurity among the local population in the city of Eerigaabo in the Sanaag region. In a statement released by the Vice President of Puntland, Ahmed Karaash, he criticised the Somaliland administration for deploying forces to Eerigaabo and engaging in activities that create unrest among the local population. “Recently, we have observed that the Somaliland Administration is causing unrest and tensions among the local population in the city of Eerigaabo,” said Ahmed Karaash. The Vice President of Puntland called on the Somaliland administration to immediately withdraw its troops from Eerigaabo and warned that if they do not do so, they will be held responsible for any consequences that may arise.

       Elections pose political and financial challenges to Somaliland.
Muuse Biihi Abdi, President of the Somaliland administration has issued a stern warning against any attempts to establish an administration in the SSC (Sool, Sanaag, and Ayn) regions. Abdi made it clear that his government would defend these areas with “all necessary means and punish those who attempt to violate their territorial integrity.” The President of the breakaway Somaliland region Abdi also expressed concerns about the intentions of the Puntland administration, accusing them of using clan-based methods to expand their territory at the expense of Somaliland. The President of Puntland, on the other hand, expressed support for the aspirations of the SSC regions to become an administrative entity and offered assistance during their interim status. He appealed to Somaliland to seek peaceful solutions rather than resorting to armed conflict.

       Laing to brief UNSC on Somalia
Catriona Laing is to brief the United Nations Security Council on the latest developments in Somalia. Laing, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, will address the Security Council on 19 October and will likely focus on Somalia’s security and political situation. She is also expected to cover the humanitarian crisis, as Somalia prepares for the looming El Nino rains.

Highlight of the Week:
       Somalia’s international partners meet in Turkey, discuss ATMIS exit
In a meeting held in Ankara, five of Somalia’s international partners, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar discussed the security situation in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation. In a statement issued on Oct. 11, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said efforts to help rebuild Somalia’s security sector and support authorities in restoring peace in the country were among the key issues discussed in their fourth meeting.

       Al-Shabaab bases raided in Somalia and Kenya
Al-Shabaab militants may have suffered significant losses on Tuesday after three of their main bases were raided in Middle Jubba, ahead of planned military operations within Jubaland and Southwest states, where the militants have been hiding for a long time. The group are said to lose critical infrastructure and manpower, following the raids at Jilib, Bu’aale, and Saakow town, which are some of the strongest bases of the militant in the country. Jilib town is the official headquarters of the group. Without giving the number of casualties, state media revealed that the Somali National Army (SNA) was assisted by members of the international community to carry out the raid. The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the US Africa Command have been assisting local forces.

       Government forces and Ma’awisley captured Ruun Nirgood
Somali government forces, in collaboration with the local Ma’awisleey militia, successfully captured the Ruun Nirgood district from the control of the extremist group al-Shabaab. The district had been under al-Shabaab’s control since August, following the withdrawal of the Somali National Army (SNA) and Ma’awisleey due to a sense of isolation from the local population. What sets this operation apart is the involvement of a significant number of Ma’awisleey members who registered in Mogadishu but originally hail from Ruun Nirgood. They joined the government forces to assist in the recapture of the district. However, there remains a pressing concern regarding the potential re-emergence of isolation and the challenge of gaining support from locals who may be hesitant to collaborate with the government forces.

       Somalia’s interior minister says police, intelligence officers defected to militants
Somalia’s Interior Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi said on Friday a number of police and intelligence officers defected to the al-Shabaab over the past weeks. Fiqi confirmed the alleged defection of a well-known poet, Nageeye Ali Khaliif, who was also a lecturer at the Somali National University in Mogadishu. The minister accused the government of former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo of facilitating infiltrations of public institutions by members of al-Shabaab. He did not give evidence for the assertion, which had previously been spread on social media by supporters of the incumbent president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.|

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.

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 Team
Gorfayn is your home for fact-based analysis on Somali politics, public policy, and security.

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