That Was The Month That Was APRIL 2018

l-r: Speaker Jawari resigns; the Mogadishu Mini-Marathon; the Ocean Stars in the CECAFA U-17s Cup Final

APRIL picked up where March left off, with continuing friction around the apparent spat between the PM and the Speaker of the Lower House. Security forces and the media were encouraged to remain impartial in an increasingly tense environment. Eventually the AMISOM Ugandan Contingent Commander intervened, apparently unilaterally, and restored some degree of calm. Speaker Jawari eventually decided to resign: barring some accusations that he had been bought off (which he vigorously refuted), his exit was remarkably equable given the bitterness that had gone before. Mohamed Mursal was elected in his place.

The FGS worked hard to increase revenues and, at the same time, secure some degree of debt relief. The constitution document apparently went missing but then re-appeared. An SNA logistics contract with the international provider, SKA, was ruled null and void after probing by investigative journalists. Flooding following heavy rains wrecked havoc in the hinterland, especially Hiraan. International organisations predicted an associated cholera epidemic and a major relief effort was launched.

In the FMSs, AMISOM continued to integrate Darwish militias into the security forces, this time in Jubbaland. Somaliland’s lurch to the oppressive continued: an elder jailed for attending an event in Puntland; a female poet detained for making pro-Somali unity proclamations; and a journalist arrested for being a journalist.

The orientation of Somaliland with UAE, presumably driven by the UAE’s investment in Somaliland ports and infrastructure but with a security angle as well, further aggravated the central government. The war of words escalated into the seizing of nearly $10 million from a UAE-flagged plane: the UAE claimed it was wages for the troops it was training in Somalia, the FGS claimed it was bung money. The UAE promptly withdrew its support for its SNA training facility in Mogadishu and its hospitals suspended operations. The military facility was looted, flooding Mogadishu with weapons and other military paraphernalia. As the month ended Somaliland, Puntland and Jubbaland were all firmly aligned with the UAE against the FGS (and Qatar/Turkey).

aS in turn launched a series of coordinated attacks on AMISOM and SNA positions in the hinterland, but they were successfully repelled. Unfortunately, a lack of availability of anyone in authority to speak to the media meant that aS’s narrative, of it swarming across south-central Somalia, was allowed to take hold.

Having finally learnt how to counter the effectiveness of drone strikes through disinformation, aS issued a series of articles claiming that strikes were consistently killing Elders, pregnant women and camels (showing what aS thinks matters to the average Somali in the hinterland). aS targeted checkpoints in the city of Mogadishu with car-bombs, warning citizens to stay away or risk the consequences. This didn’t stop the Mogadishu Mini-Marathon being run, a testament to the stoicism and resilience of the Somali people.

Sport provided another target for aS, this time a football stadium in Barawe in Lower Shabelle: aS claimed all those injured were members of the security forces, but the reality was that they were all just average Abdi’s playing the beautiful game. On the flip-side, the Somali Under-17s team reached the final of the CECAFA Cup, only faltering at the end to a stronger Tanzanian side. For every negative, there was a positive. And vice versa.