Press

What are the successes and failures of the current Somali Government?

The recent election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is an important step toward Somalia’s recovery after decades of instability. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group encourages the European Union and its member states to support the government by injecting new life into the national reconciliation talks and boost assistance for sub-national governance. 

Somalia finally has a new leadership but faces a slew of longstanding problems, moving forward.  

The country’s course in the next year will depend in particular on how the new Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) handles the fallout from a fraudulent and fractious electoral process and the country’s multiple security threats. 

If left unaddressed, these challenges combined with others such as illicit foreign funding of politicians, divisions over the country’s regional and international relations and persistent clashes driven by clan-based interests will create opportunities for armed actors – including Al-Shabaab and an emerging Islamic State (IS) – to continue to operate and expand. 

Failures of the current Somali Government

1-Conflicts Between and Within Federal Member States 

President Farmajo will have to navigate Somalia’s dysfunctional politics, including its contentious federalism project. The lack of agreed policies or framework to tackle disputes among federal member states or between them and central government makes his work particularly tricky. The most intractable of the conflicts between federal states remains that between the Galmudug Interim Administration (GIA) and Puntland over the city of Galkayo which straddles their common border. Clashes in November and December 2016 saw hundreds killed and thousands displaced. Tensions subsided following a ceasefire agreement in late December, but the violence highlights the ferocity of competition between clans for territorial control.​​​​​​​ 

Disputes within federal states also hamper efforts to rebuild the country. On 10 January, local Galmudug state parliamentarians passed a no-confidence motion against GIA President Abdikarim Guled, which he rejected on the grounds that it fell short of the required two-thirds threshold and was passed while parliament was closed. The GIA also faces resistance from the Sufi-aligned, anti-Al-Shabaab militia, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama (ASWJ), which continues to control Galmudug state capital, Dhusamareeb. 

In Somaliland, which does not recognise the FGS’s authority, elections planned for March 2017 have been pushed back until October due to drought. Since clan tensions have risen significantly there, the process could be more violent than in the past. 

2-Cracks in the Security Forces Play into Al-Shabaab’s Hands

The Somali National Army (SNA) is undermined by infighting over control of checkpoints (where soldiers can extort money) which has given Al-Shabaab opportunities to retake territory, most recently in Buulo Gaduud in the south west and War-Sheekh in the south east on 7 January. A wave of SNA defections to Al-Shabaab, lured by the group’s money and reassured by its pledge not to kill defectors, has buoyed the jihadists’ numbers and morale. 

Discussion

Aid for Somalia: what is it achieving?

the famine in Somalia will spread unless the world community responds with greater urgency, the UN said this week. With more than 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti in need of aid, the UN says $1.4bn (£853m) is needed. Operations have been hit by a lack of cash in the build-up to the famine.