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Somalia: Facts and Timeline

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We look at Somalia, a country that has been at war with itself, clans fighting for power for close to three decades and extremist group al Shabab fighting to topple the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.  

Although political crisis and terrorism still hinder the much needed progress, the country is now recovering from 30 years of anarchy.  The government with the backing of African Union troops are gaining grounds against al Shabab.

Somalia borders the Gulf of Aden in the north, the Indian Ocean in the east, Kenya to the west, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the northwest.

Here are FACTS about Somalia:

Area: 637,657 sq km (slightly smaller than Texas)

Population:  15,000,000 (July 2018 est.)

Median age: 18.2 years

Capital: Mogadishu

Ethnic groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including 30,000 Arabs)

Religion: Sunni Muslim (Islam)

GDP (purchasing power parity): $20.44 billion (2017 est.)

Other Facts:

Somalia is part of the Horn of Africa in the region of eastern Africa. Other countries include Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. This region is subject to repetitive cycles of drought and famine.

Timeline:

July 1, 1960 – The new country of Somalia is formed through the union of newly independent territories British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland.

1969 – Mohamed Siyad Barre leads a bloodless coup and becomes dictator.

1977-1978 – Somalia invades the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Ethiopia rebels and weakens Somalia’s forces. The two countries have fought on and off since 1960.

1988 – Somalia and Ethiopia sign a peace treaty.

January 1991 – President Barre is forced into exile after the United Somali Congress overthrows his military regime in Mogadishu.

December 1992 – Faction leader Ali Mahdi Mohammed and warlord General Mohammed Farah Aidid sign a cease-fire brokered by US envoy Robert Oakley.

December 1992 – Operation Restore Hope is launched by UN coalition forces and led by the United States in an attempt to restore enough order to ensure food distribution to the Somali people.

June 5, 1993 – General Aidid’s forces attack and kill 24 UN troops from Pakistan.

September 25, 1993 – An American Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter is shot down over Mogadishu, and three soldiers on board are killed.

October 3-4, 1993 – The Battle of Mogadishu: Two Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters are shot down during a raid on Aidid’s high-level staff at Mogadishu’s Olympic Hotel. Eighteen US soldiers and hundreds of Somalis are killed. Pilot Michael Durant is captured.

October 9, 1993 – Aidid calls for a cease-fire with UN forces.

October 14, 1993 – Pilot Michael Durant is freed.

January 1994 – Elder clansmen agree to a new cease-fire. Aidid and Mohammed do not attend the talks.

March 25, 1994 – US troops complete their withdrawal after a 15-month mission.

March 2, 1995 – The last of the UN peacekeepers are evacuated.

June 27, 2005 – Pirates hijack the MV Semlow, a ship carrying UN food aid, and hold the vessel for 100 days.

October 12, 2005 – Another UN ship carrying aid, the MV Miltzow, is hijacked and held for more than 30 hours.

October 2005 – Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi calls on neighboring countries to send warships to patrol Somalia’s coast.

November 27, 2005 – Pirates free a Ukrainian cargo ship seized 40 days prior off the coast of Somalia.

April 4, 2006 – The South Korean ship Dongwon-ho 628 is seized off the coast of Somalia. Four months later, the crew is released after a ransom is allegedly paid.

April 2006 – Somalia grants the US Navy permission to patrol coastal waters.

February 25, 2007 – Pirates hijack the MV Rozen, a cargo ship delivering UN food aid to Somalia. The ship and crew are released after 40 days.

2008 – The United States designates Al-Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia linked to al Qaeda, as a foreign terrorist organization.

June 2008 – The UN Security Council unanimously votes to allow countries to send warships into Somalia’s waters to combat piracy.

September 25, 2008 – The Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, is attacked. Its cargo consists of 33 T-72 tanks, rocket launchers and small arms. The ship is released in February after pirates claim they have received a $3.2 million ransom payment.

November 2008 – The Saudi supertanker Sirius Star is hijacked. The ship is released in January 2009 after pirates claim to have received three million dollars in ransom.

April 8, 2009 – Somali pirates hijack the US-flagged cargo ship Maersk Alabama. The captain, Richard Phillips, offers himself as a hostage in order to protect his crew.

April 12, 2009 – Phillips is rescued when US Navy SEAL snipers fatally shoot three pirates and take the fourth into custody.

June 19, 2011 – Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo resigns. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali is appointed as an interim leader until a new prime minister can be appointed.

July 20, 2011 – The United Nations declares a famine in the southern Somalia regions of Bakool and Lower Shabelle.

July 22, 2011 – Terrorist group Al-Shabaab reverses an earlier pledge to allow aid agencies to provide food in famine-stricken areas of southern Somalia.

August 2, 2011 – The United States updates guidance so humanitarian organizations will not be penalized for aid inadvertently falling into the hands of terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

August 8, 2011 – US President Barack Obama announces $105 million in emergency funding for Somalia.

August 11, 2011 – The United States announces another $17 million in emergency aid for Somalia.

September 5, 2011 – The UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit releases a report saying a total of four million people in Somalia need humanitarian aid and 750,000 people are in danger of “imminent starvation.”

October 4, 2011 – More than 70 people are killed and 150 injured when a truck filled with explosives drives into a government complex in Mogadishu. Most of the victims are students, who were registering for a Turkish education program, and their parents. Al-Shabaab claims responsibility.

February 2, 2012 – UK Foreign Secretary William Hague visits Mogadishu becoming the first top UK official to visit Somalia in 20 years.

September 10, 2012 – Somali parliament members select Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the new president. The vote marks a milestone for the nation, which has not had a stable central government since Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown 21 years ago.

January 11, 2013 – French forces attempt to rescue a French intelligence commando held hostage in Somalia by Al-Shabaab. The raid leaves a French soldier dead, another soldier missing and 17 Islamist fighters dead. French President Francois Hollande later acknowledges that the operation “did not succeed” and resulted in the “sacrifice” of two French soldiers and “maybe the assassination” of hostage Denis Allex. Al-Shabaab later declares that it has killed the hostage in retribution for the raid.

January 17, 2013 – For the first time in more than two decades, the United States grants official recognition to the Somali government.

May 2, 2013 – A report, jointly commissioned by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, shows that 258,000 Somalis died in the famine between October 2010 and April 2012. Half of the famine victims were children younger than five.

June 19, 2013 – An attack on the UN headquarters in Mogadishu leaves at least 14 people dead and 15 others wounded. Al Shabab claims responsibility for the attack.

March 5, 2016 – A US strike in Somalia kills as many as 150 suspected al Shabab fighters, according to the Pentagon. Both manned and unmanned aircraft are used.

February 8, 2017 – Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who resigned as prime minister in 2011, is elected president.

February 23, 2017 – President Mohamed names Hassan Ali Kheyre prime minister.

March 2017 – US President Donald Trump authorizes the military to carry out precision strikes targeting al-Shabab. Prior, the US military was authorized to carry out airstrikes only in self-defence of advisers on the ground.

October 14, 2017 – At least 300 people are confirmed dead after a double car bombing in Mogadishu. Less than two months later, authorities announce that the death toll has climbed to 512.

November 3, 2017 – For the first time, the United States conducts airstrikes targeting ISIS militants in northeastern Somalia. Unmanned drones make the two airstrikes.

July 25, 2018 – Somalia announces it will pursue its first prosecution for female genital mutilation, after a 10-year-old dies following the procedure.

December 4, 2018 – The US State Department announces that the United States has re-established a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia more than two decades after closing its embassy in Mogadishu.

July 24, 2019 – A suicide bomb attack on a government building kills at least six people and leaves six others injured, including Mogadishu’s mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman. Osman dies from his injuries on August 1.

December 2019: 80 people were killed when al Shabab struck a car suicide bomber at a security checkpoint in the outskirts of Mogadishu targeting Turkish construction workers. Most of the dead were civilians.

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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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