Somalia. In early January, Provisional Government President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad arrived in the capital Mogadishu, where, just before the New Year, Ethiopian forces had driven out the Islamist militia that ruled the city in the fall of 2006. Several of the city’s warlords joined the government side. In southern Somalia, US flights carried out a pair of bombs against the remains of the Islamist militia, which according to the United States was linked to the terror network al-Qaeda.
Soon, however, it turned out that the government troops and the Ethiopian army did not have full control over Mogadishu. Both Islamists and local clan militia continued to resist and the fighting increased rapidly. A total of 1,200 Ugandan soldiers, who would represent an African Union peacekeeping force, arrived in rounds but were immediately attacked and suffered casualties. A number of Ethiopian soldiers were also killed and in April the Ethiopian force in Mogadishu was strengthened by hundreds of men. The Red Cross now described the state of the capital as the worst in 15 years. Spokesmen for the dominant clan Hawiye reported in April that over 1,000 people had been killed in just a few days.
In June, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi made a brief visit to Mogadishu and promised to take back his army as soon as peace was secured. However, such a situation never occurred during the year, and the Ethiopian army remained in Somalia, where it was increasingly perceived as an occupation force.
According to CountryAAH, Mogadishu is the capital city of Somalia. Islamist leaders and other opposition groups announced in September that at a meeting in Eritrea they formed a new resistance movement, called the Alliance for Somalia’s Liberation.
In October, the Provisional Government’s Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Ghedi resigned following a conflict with the President. Ghedi was blamed for the difficult military situation and the lack of political progress. He was succeeded by 69-year-old Nur Hassan Hussein, who since 1991 worked as secretary general of the Somali Red Crescent.
In the late autumn, one million Somalis were said to be homeless because of the fighting. About 600,000 people had fled Mogadishu since February. The humanitarian situation was described as disastrous, and aid organizations found it difficult to reach those in need. Human rights organizations raised alarms about serious abuses against the civilian population, not least an alarming increase in the number of rapes. Everyone involved was said to be guilty, but the Ethiopian forces in particular were pointed out.
Somalia’s northwestern corner proclaimed 1991 to the independent Republic of Somaliland. However, Somaliland has not succeeded in being internationally recognized, mainly because Other Countries in Africa and the Arab world have opposed Somalia’s division. At times, there has been strong political tension in Somaliland and the democratic system has major shortcomings. However, several elections have been held in relatively orderly forms.
Somaliland is estimated to have about 3.5 million inhabitants. The majority of them belong to the issaq clan and its subclans. Somaliland is considered to be the quietest and best functioning part of Somalia, although clan struggles have also occurred here. Almost all residents are Sunni Muslims and Islam is state religion.
Somalia withdraws ambassador from Kenya
Somalia is recalling its ambassador from Kenya and making accusations that the neighboring country is interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs. At the same time, the Somali government is urging Kenya to call in its ambassador to Mogadishu for consultations. It believes that Kenya has put pressure on Jubaland (in some sources spelled Jubbaland) for trying to persuade the state to reject the election plan concluded in September (see September 2020). Kenya supports the current administration in Jubaland, led by Ahmed Mohamed Islam, better known as “Madobe”.
The United States is considering reducing its military presence in Somalia
US Secretary of Defense Chris Miller is visiting Somalia. It comes at a time when the United States is considering reducing its military presence in Somalia, with about 700 US troops in the country to train Somali security forces. A few days earlier, reports came in that a member of the US intelligence service CIA had been killed in Somalia, but no details on how this had been done have been made public.
US blacklists al-Shabaab leaders
The United States is putting two leaders of the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab on its special terror list because of their involvement in an assassination attempt in Kenya in January 2020, in which three Americans were killed (see January 2020). They are Maalim Ayman, leader of Jaysh Ayman, an elite unit within the Islamist militia, and Abdullahi Osman Mohamed, an explosives expert and head of al-Shabaab’s media. The January attack was the first time al-Shabaab had attacked a US base. On the same day, five people were killed, several of them police officers, and ten were injured in a suicide attack on a restaurant in Mogadishu. al-Shabaab assumes the act.