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Somalia Crisis: A brief guide to who is opposing whom

The Frontier takes a look at the actors, both domestic and foreign, involved in the Somalia crisis and who they are siding with

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The three decades of conflict in Somalia are difficult and complex to understand because of the numerous parties involved. Rivals compete for power, resources and influence and, all competing factions are Sunni Muslims and all speak the same language, Somali.

Somalia has five state governments, created under the country’s federal system, each maintaining their own police and security forces which have a degree of autonomy over their affairs, but are subject to the authority of the federal government. But federal member states undermine the authority of the central government. Somalia faces both political and security crises.

Somalis have become familiar with foreign interference. Kenya, Ethiopia and the West, mainly the US, have been actively engaged in the country’s internal affairs, backing different armed militia groups and a weak central government.

Ethiopia, the single biggest foreign player in Somalia, is on friendly terms with Kenya on the status of the Somali central government based in Mogadishu. Kenya fully backs Jubbaland, a regional administration in the south of the country which it played a key role in creating; but Ethiopia does not back Jubbaland as it does other regional administrations. Addis Ababa suspects Jubbaland of supporting the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a rebel group in eastern Ethiopia fighting to secede from Ethiopia.

Although Ethiopia is part of the African Union mission (Amisom) helping the government defeat al Shabab, it also has non-Amisom n troops inside the country.

Both Ethiopia and Kenya support Puntland and Somaliland. Puntland is a semi-autonomous region in northeast Somalia while Somaliland is a break-away and self-declared republic in the northwest of the country.

Somaliland and Puntland are sworn enemies. They are engaged in a border dispute with sporadic fighting between the two. But they are on the same side against the central government based in Mogadishu. Puntland supports Jubbaland and they sometimes gang up against Mogadishu. Somaliland and Puntland both receive support from Ethiopia.

Somaliland supports the Galmudug administration in central Somalia because it fights Puntland.

Puntland hates the government in Mogadishu. It accuses Mogadishu of not sharing donor funds with it. It has cut ties with Mogadishu at least three times and banned the Somali government-owned Radio Mogadishu in its territory. But Mogadishu and Puntland are allies against Somaliland and are united against the Al-Shabab group. Ethiopia supports both Mogadishu and Somaliland.

There is a Sufi armed group controlling parts of central Somalia called Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama’a. For years, it has been fighting the Galmudug administration and has now transformed from a paramilitary group to an influential political force. Its leader has been appointed Gamudug’s chief minister. It has 20 members of parliament in the local Galmudug parliament.

Ahlu Sunnah is opposed to the radical al Shabab group and is a vital player in the war against the al Qaeda-linked militants. Both Galmudug and Ahlu Sunna are allies against Al-Shabab. Ahlu Sunnah sometimes fights the Mogadishu government but supports its fight against Al-Shabab.

The Somali government has the constitutional responsibility for foreign affairs and diplomacy, but regional administrations, which are like provincial or state governments, make their own foreign policy. Its leaders travel to other countries and meet foreign leaders, making deals.

When Saudi Arabia and three other Gulf countries and Egypt blockaded and cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in May 2017 for what they said was Doha’s “support for Iran and terrorism”, Somalia remained neutral and offered to mediate. Federal member states took advantage of Mogadishu’s weakness and sided with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt.

The function of foreign affairs falls under the federal government and the states have no role in it. It was a breach of the country’s constitution, according to the government in Mogadishu.

In December 2019, Somalia’s national security agency, NISA, said a foreign government without naming which nation ‘planned’ an attack that killed 80 people in Mogadishu on 28 December. Observers say the Somali government suspects a Middle Eastern country for aiding those who carried out the attack. Al Shabab, despite keeping mum for days, took credit for the attack.

All parties, foreign and domestic, are enemies of Al-Shabab.

With all these players involved, the conflict in Somalia is far from over.

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Politics

Puntland forces block delegation waiting to receive Planning Minister Jamal Hassan in Garowe

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Puntland security forces reportedly under instructions from State President Abdullahi Deni barred a delegation which was to received Federal Planning Minister Jamal Hassan at Garowe Airport Thursday morning.

The minister who was on his way to his constituency in Dhahar, Sanaag region arrived at the airport but without a receiving delegation after his team on the ground was blocked from accessing the airport, sources at the airport said.

After he left the airport, sources said, a confrontation arose between his security team from Dhahar and Puntland forces. The team from Dhahar had come to pick him.

The government forces had reportedly attempted to bar him from leaving for Dhahar but he finally managed to leave.

Jamal, a close ally of President Mohamed Farmaajo does not see eye to eye with Deni whom sources said has attempted to derail his re-election.

Jamal will be seeking to be re-elected by his sub-clan in Dhahar in the upcoming Lower House elections.

Source: Hiiraan and Agencies

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Politics

Farmajo names committee of inquiry to investigate disappearance of former spy Ikran Tahlil

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Somali president Mohamed Farmajo has appointing a five-member committee to investigate the disappearance of former spy agent Ikran Tahlil.

“I hereby appoint a five-Member Commission of inquiry Chaired by the Attorney-General and deputized by Head of Military Court to expedite investigations on the case of IKRAN TAHLIL and to hand over the findings and evidence to responsible legal institutions for the execution of Justice.”

In the presidential decree, Farmajo appointed the Attorney-General to lead the fact-finding mission. The Armed Forces Court Attorney General is also a member of the committee. The three committee members will be nominated later by the Somali Police Force Commander, the Commander of the Somali National Army and Col. Yasin Abdulahi Mohamud, his new appointee Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Agency.

The statement added that Ikran’s case was a “sensitive one that needs a thorough investigation.”

Farmajo instructed the commission to submit its investigative reports to the relevant authorities, although there will undoubtedly be demands to make the findings of any report public. There will also likely be apprehension to Somalia’s intelligence agency being a part of the investigation. Many lawmakers have called on an independent inquiry into Ikran’s murder.

Farmajo declared that the decree came into effect immediately after he signed it.

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Politics

Qorqor and Laftagareen try to bring Farmajo and Roble together

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The presidents of Galmudug, Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoor Qoor his South West State counterpart and Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed Laftagareen have taken the role of mediators to find a solution the wrangle between President Mohamed Farmajo and his Prime Minister Mohamed Roble.

The two  met with Farmajo and Roble separately, and urged both parties to refrain from further action that would escalate the tense situation.

Reports indicate that the president and the prime minister have accepted the mediation, although each has developed conditions attached to the talks.

Prime Minister Roble insisted that Commander Bashir Goobe was the commander of NISA, and President Farmajo emphasized that the steps taken by the Prime Minister were invalid.

The meeting is expected to continue on Friday. The two presidents are hopeful that the two top officials will finally be reconciled so that their differences do not affect the election process.

The intervention comes amidst heightened political tensions between Farmajo and Roble which could threaten the fragile security of the Horn of Africa nation.

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