This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 21 March 2017.
Developing a “security pact” to tackle insurgent jihadists al-Shabaab, who continue to stifle state-building efforts, is one of the key agenda items at the upcoming high-level conference on Somalia scheduled for May this year in London. This complex challenge first depends on identifying what makes al-Shabaab such a resilient movement. Despite some success on the battlefield, this is an understanding that has largely escaped Somalia’s various security forces—and their international supporters—until now.
Donors such as the United Kingdom, European Union, and United States have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Somalia’s security services, including 1.8 billion euros pledged in September 2013 as part of the “New Deal Compact.” Yet al-Shabaab remains a potent force throughout most of the country. The London conference thus presents an opportunity to develop security architecture—and associated justice mechanisms—more in line with previous political progress in Somalia.
Courtesy of AMISOM Public Information/Flickr.
This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 11 January 2017.
How a peace operation is financed is always an important issue. But money matters for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have recently become highly politicized. This is in large part because of the complicated set of arrangements and mechanisms that are required to fund AMISOM. Particularly since mid-2015, some of these arrangements have come under pressure to change owing to a variety of factors, including the longevity of the mission, circumstances in the global economy, and other international crises on the African continent and beyond. The changes have had the predictable knock-on effect of causing political arguments between the African Union, the AMISOM troop-contributing countries (TCCs), and some of the mission’s key partners, most notably the European Union.
This report answers six key questions to explain how AMISOM is financed and how some recent decisions taken by the EU have generated considerable conflict within the mission and among some of its contributing states.
This article was originally published by War is Boring on 3 October 2016.
Long before the debacles of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Somalia was the quagmire that Western militaries would have loved to strike from their records.
In the now-famous Black Hawk Down incident in 1993, overconfident U.S. forces blundered into an ambush in Mogadishu. Eighteen American soldiers and two troops from the supporting U.N. force died.
The West retreated from Somalia. To fill the security vacuum, the African Union deployed a peacekeeping force from 2006 onward.
The AMISOM peacekeeping force relies to a great degree on material and financial support from the United States and European allies, whose interest in the Somalia conflict increased again when Islamist groups gained influence in the country.
But the memory of the 1993 battle complicated direct intervention by Western militaries.
Gradually and quietly, this has begun to change.
“You….Stop. Enough, we need these people” erected in-front of the Somali parliament building. Courtesy AMISOM Public Information/Flickr
This article was originally published by the International Crisis Group on 27 June 2016.
Somalia’s militant group, Al-Shabaab, has often defied its adversaries’ claims that it is in decline. In recent months, however, the movement has suffered setbacks, including territorial losses, high-ranking commanders killed and defections. The Somali Federal Government (SFG) and its internal, regional and international allies need to be clear-sighted about the reasons for these, and what they can do to stop another Al-Shabaab recovery.
Al-Shabaab’s set-backs – and fewer attacks by the movement during the Ramadan holy Muslim month of fasting than in previous years – are the result of three distinct and unrelated factors. First, an enhanced and largely externally directed and funded campaign including drone strikes has eliminated high-profile leaders and diminished its military capacity. Second, some of Somalia’s new federal units are demonstrating greater military effectiveness, even if they and the government still rely primarily on clan-based militias. Third, the Islamic State (IS) has challenged Al-Shabaab’s greatest internal vulnerability – its ideological cohesion.
Whether the Somali government and its allies can advance their cause will largely depend on greater agreement on priorities and coordination of action – no easy task, given the wide and diverse range of external and internal actors.
Flag of the Kenya Defence Forces. Image: Fry1989/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by ISS Africa on 7 December, 2015.
It has been more than four years since the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) crossed the border into Somalia, and Kenyans are entitled to ask what exactly their troops are still doing there.
The official rationale is no longer entirely convincing. The original purpose of the military intervention was to insulate the country from the conflict in Somalia.
‘Kenya has been and remains an island of peace, and we shall not allow criminals from Somalia, which has been fighting for over two decades, to destabilise our peace,’ said George Saitoti, the internal security minister at the time.
It is debatable whether that aim has been achieved. Although Operation Linda Nchi (‘Protect the Nation’) curtailed the operations of al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for dozens of incidents on Kenyan soil in recent years. This includes the high-profile attacks on Westgate Mall and Garissa University. » More