That Was The Month That Was… AUGUST 2017

l-r: top, an AMISOM vehicle was destroyed after being caught up in bajaaj-driver protests; bottom, Robow; centre, the alleged victims of the Barire radi; and right, Eid al-Adha, aS-style

AUGUST began with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) dealing with the aftermath of events in July: the Minister of Constitutional Affairs was summoned to parliament to explain his negative commentary regarding the overturning of the Supreme Court’s ruling on disputed parliamentary seats; and there was much outcry about the death sentence applied to the killer of the Minister of Public Works (the perpetrator being one of the Attorney General’s protection team).

Later in the month an AMISOM convoy in Mogadishu became caught up in a mass protest by disgruntled bajaaj­-drivers: one vehicle was destroyed. There was a flurry of attacks on checkpoints in Mogadishu (possibly indicative of the success of the Stabilisation Force) and a handful of car-bombs made it through to their targets, although with minimal effect. A group of family members were killed in a drive-by shooting on the outskirts of Mogadishu and a taxi driver working the lucrative Airport Road route was killed by a bomb placed under the driver’s seat of his cab: it seemed that, as terrorism in the city declined, business dispute resolution, Mogadishu-style, was returning.

Female representation in parliament also came to the fore when no female representatives were selected for the Constitutional Review Committee, prompting comment from UN SOM. The Telecoms Bill passed through both houses, meaning the FGS might finally see a share of the massive revenues from that industry (which currently go into private coffers and, allegedly, also in some small part to aS). There was turmoil in HirShabelle State, always the most fragile of the Federal States, when the President was voted out but refused to leave, despite the support of the central government for the process to remove him from office. Convicted pirates were repatriated by India. Another group of prisoners were returned to Mogadishu by South Sudan and were immediately released: unfortunately they turned out to be human traffickers.

aS maintained its campaign to influence the Kenyan election via the media, culminating in the release of a video showing the execution of a Kenyan prisoner. AMISOM and the FGS withdrew from Leego: aS re-occupied the town. A female suicide bomber detonated in the Central Prison in Mogadishu in an attempt to kill her relative, the Commander of the Custodial Corps: she failed. aS continued to suffer losses to strikes: air strikes, drone strikes, Special Forces strikes. The Shadow Governor of Banadir, Ali Jabal, was a significant loss, prompting a eulogy from aQ itself.

Defections continued, including a 19-year medical commander in Hiraan. The defection of Robow, probably prompted by aS’s attempts to finally eliminate him after years of his dithering in the wilderness, was the subject of much conjecture: was he significant? did he actually reject violence or the ideology of the Global Jihad? was there a chance he might destabilise Southwest State, to whom he defected?

The month ended with two more crises. A group of villagers were killed in a joint Somali-US special forces operation, prompting outrage (much of it faux, since it became apparent the group were armed and probably about to engage in a spot of inter-clan violence when they stumbled upon the soldiers). The alleged handover of an Ogaden National Liberation Front leader to the Ethiopian authorities saw indignation reach new levels. Eid al-Adha came and the celebrations were peaceful but the various controversies rumbled on in the background and would likely ripple on into September.