Somalia: Gorfayn Weekly Briefs, Thursday 23 November 2023

President Mohamud along with UK PM at the Global Food Security Submit in London

Executive Summary:
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud travelled to London for the Global Food Security Summit, co-hosted with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The summit brings together leaders to address food insecurity caused by climate, geography, and conflict. Separately, President Mohamud led a security meeting focused on anti-al-Shabaab efforts and preparing for an upcoming New York conference. International partners called for calm in Garowe following violence there, warning escalation could undermine recent electoral progress in Puntland. Puntland’s parliament plans to pass electoral reforms allowing direct election of the president and parliament, concerns were raised by some who believe this serves President Deni’s ambitions. Somalia’s cabinet approved a crucial Population and Census bill to help reconstruct settlement services. Somalia dispatched its first ambassador to Eritrea, renewing ties. Fires broke out again at Mogadishu’s Hamarwayne market days after a previous blaze. Tension runs high in Garowe over troop movements related to disputed upcoming elections. Heavy autumn rains are forecast, prompting warnings for flood-prone regions. Somaliland’s House of Elders formed a committee to review proposed amendments to election laws. Fierce fighting erupted between Somaliland and SSC Khatumo forces in Sool region. Somalia enforced bans on the 1XBET betting application, citing religious and societal reasons.
       On security, the UN extended the AU Somalia mission for 6 months, also authorizing gradual troop drawdowns through mid-2024 per Somalia’s request. Joint operations intensified against al-Shabaab in southern Mudug region. 

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Highlights of the week:
       Somali President in London for Global Food Security Summit as urgent aid announcements expected
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud arrived in London to co-host the Global Food Security Summit with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the United Arab Emirates, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The summit brought together government leaders, aid groups, scientists involved in global research initiatives, and climate and food experts. The summit will feature various sessions focusing on innovative agricultural practices, climate-resilient farming, international cooperation for resource allocation, and supporting countries like Somalia, which are on the frontline of the food security battle due to geographic and socio-political factors. Prime Minister Sunak emphasized the need for global action to address the underlying and often unseen causes of global food insecurity.

       President Hassan Sheikh leads National Security Committee meeting
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud presided over a National Security Committee meeting aimed at intensifying efforts to combat al-Shabaab. The meeting prioritised enhancing collaboration among government security branches and preparing for the upcoming New York security conference focused on Somalia. During the session, the Committee received a comprehensive briefing from army commanders. President Hassan Sheikh commended the cooperative efforts of the Somali people in supporting the security forces, acknowledging the dedication of the military to serve the populace day and night. The Committee expressed appreciation for the National Army’s successes on various frontlines, highlighting the liberation of several areas in Mudug, Galgaduud, Hiiraan, and Middle Shabelle regions, from al-Shabaab influence.

       International partners call for calm and restraint in Garowe
International partners are concerned about the violence in Garowe and its impact on civilians. The partners call for the immediate de-escalation of tensions and a return to calm. We call on all political stakeholders to engage in dialogue as the only avenue to address and resolve differences. The recent escalation risks jeopardising the positive outcomes secured following the recent district council elections in Puntland.

       Puntland gears up for electoral reform law
Puntland’s parliament is gearing up to pass an electoral reform law on Monday, November 20, as issued by the electoral commission. The law, tabled on Wednesday, outlines that the upcoming election will be held at the end of February and will allow the people of Puntland to elect both the president and the parliament. However, concerns have been raised by the council of candidates, cautioning the parliament against taking actions that could potentially lead to security instability. They have warned that any moves perceived as serving the political ambitions of President Deni will result in accountability measures being taken against the parliament.

       Somalia’s Cabinet of Ministers approves Population and Census Bill
In a cabinet session in Mogadishu, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Federal Republic of Somalia, led by Prime Minister Hamsa Abdi Barre, has approved the Population and Census Bill. Prior to the approval, the ministry responsible for the bill presented detailed reports to the assembly. This crucial bill, now endorsed by the Council of Ministers, will proceed to both houses of the Federal Republic of Somalia’s Parliament for further consideration. The Prime Minister’s office highlighted the significance of the “Bill on Settlement and Civil Status Census” in the reconstruction and regulation of settlement services within the country.

       Somalia dispatches first ambassador to Eritrea
Somalia has sent its first-ever ambassador to Eritrea following the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Omar Idris presented his credentials to Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki on Saturday, joining a list of 17 new ambassadors to the Red Sea nation. Ambassador Idris now becomes the first Somali ambassador to Eritrea in the history of the two nations.

       Fire breaks out at Mogadishu market for second time in days
A fire broke out at a market in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu for the second time in just a few days, Caasimada Online news website reported on Sunday. The fire engulfed Hamarwayne market in the city’s green-zone, just days after destroying a number of businesses. Police official and the commissioner of Hamarwayne district told the media that they were working to put the fire out, but have not yet established the cause of the new inferno.

       Tension remains high in Garowe as government and opposition forces mobilise
Tension is high in Garowe, the administrative capital of Puntland following troops movements as differences between the outgoing administration and the opposition over the upcoming presidential elections intensify. Multiple sources in the restive town say that the government deployed several unit of the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) which has a closer relationship with the embattled President. The opposition is also reported to have mobilised its militia and allied government forces.

       Red alert issued for regions in Somalia due to expected heavy rainfall
The Somali Disaster Management Agency has issued a strong warning about the threat of heavy rains that are set to fall in all regions of the country next week, according to the latest weather forecast. An official press release issued by SoDMA said, “For the next seven days in the third week of November 2023, the autumn rains forecast shows that heavy rains will fall in all regions of the country. SoDMA has identified the regions of Gedo and Awdal as areas that are likely to receive the heaviest rains of 150-200mm. The regions of Bay, Bakool, Hiiraan, Sool, Nugaal, North West, Mudug, Galgaduud, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle, Middle Jubba, and Banadir are expected to receive between 30 and 80mm of rain.

       Somaliland’s House of Elders forms committee to draft revised election legislation
Somaliland’s House of Elders reached a consensus to establish a dedicated committee to review amendments made by the House of Representatives to the election law. During deliberations, some members proposed a thorough reassessment of the amended law before approval, while others advocated for unanimous approval without the formation of a committee. The appointed committee will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, identifying any areas requiring correction or potential additions to the legislation. The amended election law proposes the integration of presidential and political parties’ elections scheduled for November 2024, a proposition endorsed by a majority of political stakeholders.

       Fierce clashes erupt between Somaliland, SSC Khatumo forces in Sool’s Yeyle region
Intense fighting erupted between Somaliland and SSC Khatumo forces in the Bisiqa area of Sool’s Yeyle region, marking a significant escalation in the ongoing conflict. The severity of the clashes is reported to be high, although detailed information about the exact locations and the extent of casualties on both sides is yet to be confirmed. The conflict follows an incident in which SSC Khatumo forces set fire to the village of Buqdharkayn. This act was allegedly in retaliation against individuals from Buqdharkayn accused of killing villagers in an eastern area nearby. In response to the attack, SSC Khatumo leaders called for peace, but some Somaliland leaders have rejected these overtures.

       Somalia enforces ban on 1XBET betting site.
The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has enforced a ban on the betting site 1XBET. The ban on the popular gambling application was first announced in August of this year but was not yet implemented, along with TikTok and Telegram. The statement released by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) cited religious reasons for the ban, as gambling is prohibited in Islam. An additional justification for the ban, is the spread of gambling addiction in Somalia, particularly among the youth. This, in turn has had an overall negative impact on Somali society as the money generated from the application is illicit and untaxed.

Highlight of the Week:
       Security Council extends AU mission in Somalia
The United Nations Security Council has extended the authorisation for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia for 6 months till 30 June 2024. Resolution 2710, which had the unanimous support of the 15-member council, authorises AU member states to deploy up to 17,626 uniformed personnel to ATMIS until 31 December 2023, and to complete the Phase 2 drawdown of 3,000 personnel by this date, a three-month pause as requested by the Somali government. It also authorises 14,626 uniformed personnel from 1 January to 30 June 2024 and to complete the Phase 3 drawdown of 4,000 ATMIS personnel by the latter date.

       Federal Forces, Galmudug Darawiish and organised local forces jointly carry out intensified operations in the southern areas of Mudug Region
The Federal government Forces, the Galmudug Regional Government, and the organised local forces are jointly conducting intensified operations against AS in the southern areas of Mudug region, especially Shabeelow.  The leading officers in the operations specially trained commando forces (Gorgor) said that they will jointly continue the operations regularly in the southern areas of Mudug region. The commander of the 18th battalion of the Eagle Commando, Major Abdi Mohamed alias Suul Nuug who gave details of the operations in the south of Mudug region, said that they will constantly operate in the areas where AS fighters are hiding and clear their hideouts.

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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