That Was The Month That Was – JULY 2018

l-to-r: President Farmajo with supportive European politicians at the Somalia Partnership Forum in Bruxelles and then meeting his Eritrean counterpart; the Ministry of Interior in Mogadishu under attack; and the tools of FGM

JULY began with continued rumblings around the release of the ONLF leader, Qalbi Dhagax, and the broader thaw in relations with Somalia’s previous arch-enemy, Ethiopia. President Farmaajo travelled to Turkey to congratulate President Erdogan on his re-election as president and later in the month, in a parallel thaw, travelled to Eritrea to meet with President Afwerki.

The Somalia Partnership Forum took place in Belgium, accompanied by the obligatory Jubbaland State tantrum about protocol. Parliament went into recess with much discussion in the news media of pay rates and attendance.

There were a number of high profile sackings within the FGS: the Minister of Religious Affairs, the Minister of Education and the spokesman of the Ministry of Internal Security. Two of the National Intelligence & Security Agency’s Deputy Director Generals were also dismissed. The Mogadishu Stabilisation Force was replaced by the Civil Defence Force, prompting much speculation about a spat between the President and the Prime Minister over control of the security forces. This reminded many of the previous disruption caused during the period of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, which was scarred by frequent power struggles between the President and his numerous Prime Ministers.

In the Federal Member States (FMSs), South West State seemed to lurch to the oppressive with a prohibition on criticism of the incumbent authorities but this was possibly balanced by increased external interest from both the central government and the international community. Somaliland and Puntland continued to rub against each other (and not in a nice way) over the disputed territories of Sanaag & Sool, although at the end of the month the UN attempted to broker an end to the fighting that seemed to be successful.

aS continued to kill people: elders, members of the security forces, government workers, random people walking down the street. It launched two notable complex attacks in Mogadishu against the Ministry of Interior and Villa Somalia (after a lull during the Holy Month of Ramadan), which prompted much outcry despite both being relatively paltry in yield. aS also tried to re-cast itself as an eco-friendly group by banning plastic bags in the areas it controlled, which convinced few except idle copy-writers in the international news media.

Somalia also found itself on the front-pages of many newspapers because one of its greatest source of collective shame: female genital mutilation. A 10-year old girl died during the vandalism of her genitals in Somaliland and there seemed to be a genuine effort, backed by the Mayor of Mogadishu, to drive the activity out of the country. But it was unclear how effective any campaign to end the hideous practice would be until control of the hinterland of Somalia was complete and tacit tolerance was stamped out once and for all.

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