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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

Joho wants to be Raila’s running mate

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Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho is demanding to be picked as Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate in this year’s presidential election to return a favour to him and the Coastal people who have been supporting the ODM leader for close to two decades.

Governor Joho, who is also the ODM deputy party leader and who dropped his bid to contest as the party’s flagbearer in the August 2022 General Election in favour of Mr Odinga, is now asking the party to pick him as a running mate in the coming elections.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

Mr Odinga is yet to name his preferred running mate.

Mr Joho is eying a national leadership position after ending his final term as governor.

In September last year, Mr Joho dropped his presidential bid in favour of his party leader after he was promised an influential Cabinet position.

He says he is ready to retire from local politics to join the national arena.

While giving his New Year message, the Mombasa governor said he will contest for the presidency in the 2027 General Election.

“This time around I am not on the ballot but I am drumming up support for Mr Odinga. But 2027 will be my year; I will vie for the top seat. Were it not for my people’s support I wouldn’t have become who I am today. I give you thanks. I love my people so much,” he said.

He added, “I will not be here after the polls, but I don’t take it for granted that for the 10 years I have been at the helm, you have been with me wholeheartedly, supporting and loving me. I love you very much Mombasa people.”

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Politics

Somali premier forms committee to investigate ‘attempted coup’

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Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has appointed a special committee to investigate his attempted suspension by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, local media report.

On Monday, Farmaajo suspended Roble from his duties as he was under investigation for suspected corruption.

The prime minister’s office called the decision a “failed coup d’etat” and Roble accused the president of trying to sabotage upcoming elections to remain in office and urged the armed forces to report directly to the government.

The committee includes close allies of the prime minister, such as the ministers of defense, security, education and public works.

Earlier this week, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the Somali authorities to engage in dialogue to find ways of ending the political crisis in the country.

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Politics

I am not power hungry, says Raila

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ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed claims that he is looking for political fame and power to benefit himself.

Raila said his only aim is to uproot the corrupted system of governance and establish a strong foundation for socioeconomic and political growth for country.

“I don’t dream of staying in power forever but I want to live good leadership for the future generation to come,” he said.

Raila said he is energy is projected towards improving the lives of the citizens by eradicating poverty through proper education, a health system and a platform for massive investments.

The ODM leader said it is a pity that many years have passed yet illiteracy, poverty and diseases are still an issue of concern despite having plenty of resources to exterminate them.

He said the time has come for Kenya to devise new ways of tapping investments and creating employment opportunities for the benefit of every citizen and not a few individuals.

Raila said he wants to increase food and nutrition security by setting up improved water and agricultural projects.

He told locals to reject wheelbarrows and choose a government that will ensure enough and respectable jobs are provided.

“Don’t be told that Kazi Ni Kazi, we want you to have good employment, not just a job,” he said.

Raila said he will ensure that each Kenyan has access to cheap and affordable healthcare services.

He spoke on Wednesday spoke at Matuga Girls’ High School in Kwale county during his Azimio La Umoja popularization campaign.

Raila promised the locals that he will improve the fishing systems and set industries for processing and value addition for the fish produced locally.

He said Kwale has vast resources lying dormant that have not yet been fully exploited.

The ODM boss said with the right leadership the unstable economy can be resuscitated and stabilized.

Raila said he will address the prolonged Kwale water shortages and capacitate local farmers to produce enough food.

He said countries like Namibia, Brazil and Egypt are doing great because they have better development plans and Kenya is no exception.

Raila assured locals that his dream is valid and applicable if only given an opportunity.

He warned citizens against being bought on cheap money and remain strong to realize their dreams of making Kenya a better place.

Raila also cautioned locals to shun tribal politics and embrace peaceful coexistence.

He said Kenyans must live together as one and appreciate all gender for the country’s prosperity.

“Let’s not alienate ourselves on tribal, religious or gender,” he said.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth said Raila was the leader Kenya is longing to have.

He said Raila is loyal and focused and the solution to the country’s many problems.

“Leadership is not about chest-thumping and Raila is not like that, with him Kenya is in the right place,” he said.

Kenneth urged locals to vet leaders before blindly electing them to power.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said Raila’s agendas reflect the needs of the Kwale residents.

He warned locals against choosing unproductive and visionless leaders whose main agenda are empty talks.

In the morning Raila had a closed-door meeting with ODM grassroots leaders and welcomed new members to the party in Diani.

The ODM team officialy welcomed former Kinango MP Gonzi Rai in the party.

Source: The Frontier and The Star.

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