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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

Supreme Court of Somalia to hear election-related cases

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Somali judicial officers at a past training
   

The Supreme Court of Somalia announced it will hear cases related to elections. Chief Justice Bashe Yusuf Ahmed said it would be illegal for the federal and state governments not to allow the courts to adjudicate over election cases.

“The Supreme Court is ready to hear any appeal that arises from an administrative decision made by the electoral commissions,” Bashe said.

Bashe was speaking at a judicial conference held in Mogadishu.

The Horn of Africa nation is preparing for parliamentary and peesidential elections in September and October respectively.

Somalia has no constitutional court but there is an electoral dispute resolution committee.

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Race for Villa Somalia

Former foreign minister joins race for Villa Somalia

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Former Foreign minister Fawzia Adam becomes the firs female candidate to announce her candidature for Somalia presidency. Fawzia, who became Somalia’s first and only woman foreign minister and Deputy Prime Minister in 2012, said she is joining the race for Villa Somalia to change the course of the country’s politics. More than 30 other candidates have expressed their interest for the top job. She leads the National Democratic Party.

“My sole aim is to breath a new lease of life into Somalia. Our political ideology and believes are at the heart and soul of our political trajectory in deciding the best way Forward for my nation,” Fawzia said.

“Our people are known for their dynamism, resilience and fruitful thinking when it comes to business. If they are encouraged, the country will surely get rapid development and investment,” she added.

She is running on an anti-corruption platform. Fawzia hails from Somaliland. The Horn of Africa nation will hold presidential elections on October 10.

As foreign minister, Fawzia was instrumental in Somalia’s quest to recover state properties that had been frozen by foreign administrations, institutions and firms after the collapse of Somalia’s central government in 1991 in order to prevent unauthorized use,  and began a formal assessment and recovery process of Somali national assets, which include ships and planes that are believed to be held in Italy, Germany and Yemen.

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Politics

Farmajo congratulation Abiy Ahmed on his election victory

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President Farmajo (right) and Ethiopian Premier Abiy Aed at a past event
   

Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo has congratulated Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed whose party won the just-concluded elections in Ethiopia.

Somalia will continue to work with the government of Abiy Ahmed to further strengthen bilateral relations and benefit peoples of the two countries and the wider region, Farmajo said in a statement. 

“I warmly congratulate PM Abiy Ahmed on regaining a strong mandate from the people of Ethiopia,” Farmaajo said.

Abiy’s new Prosperity Party won 410 out of 436 seats, according to electoral body.

Ethiopia has thousands of troops in Somalia under Amisom, the African Union Mission in Somalia, fighting al Shabab group. Since assuming office in 2018, Abiy has been supportive of the Somali Federal Government unlike his predecessors who supported regional administrations against the government in Mogadishu.

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