That Was The Month That Was MAY 2018

l-r: flooding; a German ICRC nurse who was kidnapped in Mogadishu; a gory image from an ISIS/Da’esh Faction assassination video; and the alleged assassins in custody

MAY began with the confirmation of the new Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament. The discussion of the Constitution continued, although Jubbaland boycotted, claiming it had not been formally invited. Vacant cabinet posts were filled amid a broader reshuffle. The President sacked the Chief Justice, prompting the obligatory claims that he couldn’t, but his youthful appointee took office nonetheless.

Two cyclones made landfall on the Somali coast and unseasonable storms resulted in flooding across the country: national examinations were postponed and there were predictions of a cholera epidemic. A German female nurse working for ICRC in Mogadishu was kidnapped, allegedly by an insider.

The one apparent constant in Somalia, the ability to do business in spite of the turmoil, came into question. A Cypriot company sued for breach over a coastguard contract and other international actors began to queue up with similar claims. Having failed to implement taxation in the city of Mogadishu, elements of the Federal Government shifted their focus to elements of the international community operating within the Mogadishu International Airport (MIA) compound, lifting a few South-East Asian accounts clerks to prove a point. A contract with an international provider to provide logistic support to the SNA that had been discarded due to questions about the transparency of the tender process suddenly reappeared in the hands of a local provider.

At the same time, the UAE’s controversial port contract with Somaliland seemed to be progressing in spite of the central government’s objections. Elsewhere in the Federal Member States, the illegal charcoal trade allegedly resumed in Jubbaland (if it had ever actually stopped), and Somaliland and Puntland clashed yet again over the disputed territories between the two states. FMSs continued to slap rather than pat when dealing with internal dissent.

International relations alternated between soft and hard power approaches, depending which side the international actor was supporting (the FGS or the FMSs). The US presence apparently rose, then fell. There were yet more aS-inspired claims of civilian casualties in the South/Central hinterland, where no international commentator can genuinely verify the truth but where agendas roam free.

aS continued to claim every killing everywhere as a politically-motivated assassination by its death squads. Operations were conducted across the border into Kenya and there was a spike in its activities in Puntland. MIA was rocketed, although at its relatively unpopulated southern extremity. A market in Garowe was bombed and a woman stoned to death for alleged adultery. The ISIS/Da’esh Faction mounted a series of assassinations too, but with a considerably quicker pace of media release than the perfectionist aS auteurs: a pair of alleged ISIS/Da’esh assassins were lifted 24 hours after a video release, wearing the same clothes as in the product that was released the day before. Some questioned why it was so easy to interdict the ISIS/Da’esh Faction assassins but not aS.

The Holy Month of Ramadan began with everyone in Mogadishu looking over their shoulder for an assassin: whether the assassin was aS, ISIS/Da’esh or just someone providing a 9 millimetre solution to a dispute seemed the only variable. But there were no major bombings or complex attacks, and the capital held its collective breath.

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