That Was The Month That Was – November 2018

l-to-r: HE the Pres addresses the Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi and receives the credentials of the the new US Ambassador; Elmi Yare, the controversial cleric killed by aS; and the headquarters of Hormuud Telecoms

NOVEMBER saw the continuation of the Southwest State Presidential Election process, although all did not go to plan: the first of a number of delays was prompted by the resignation of the Electoral Commission in protest at alleged FGS interference; then another delay pushed the election into December, allegedly because of attempts to exclude some candidates; and, at the end of the month, a further delay, with the justification this time being the need to train up the new Electoral Commission. A number of candidates withdrew, again citing interference, and pledged their support to the former aS leader, Robow. The incumbent SW State President even withdrew from the process and resigned from his post, once again seeming to transfer his support to Robow. It seemed unlikely that the remainder of the process would run smoothly and there was a general consensus that whoever eventually won would have to deal with a process that deeply compromised.

The President spent much of the month travelling to South Sudan (where Somalia announced that it would soon be deploying a small contingent of peacekeepers), Turkey (where good relations seemed to have resumed), Italy (where he may or may not have met the Emir of Qatar), Uganda and finally Kenya (where the President spoke strongly about illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping, and where Somalia might have signed a regional intelligence sharing deal, or it might not). Both Ethiopia and Kenya’s national carriers announced their intention to join Turkish Airlines operating international routes into Somalia, although Kenya Airways paused its plans when the Somali government applied additional insurance conditions. The new US Ambassador arrived and Somali reiterated its call for international NGOs to relocate to Somalia or lose their operating licenses.

A running theme of corruption and general jiggery-pokery ran throughout the month. A number of government and security forces personnel where convicted as part of a government anti-corruption drive. The UN SEMG published its annual report, notable highlights being allegations of UAE interference, aS attackers bribing their way through Kenyan border checks in the run-up to a foiled attack on Nairobi and claims that the FGS was struggling to track weapons effectively (two FGS-issued weapons being found in the possession of the interdicted aS terrorist cell in Kenya). The Parliamentary Finance Committee published a report accusing both the Ministry of Finance and Banadir Regional Authority of financial mismanagement: the claims were vigorously refuted by both institutions and the committee disbanded amidst claims that the report was politically motivated.

aS was subjected to nigh-on daily strikes up and down the Jubba River Valley but predominantly in coastal Mudug, where commanders seem to have dodged the lesson on How to Counter Enemy Airpower through tactics such as dispersal and emission control: AFRICOM claimed to have killed over 30 fighters in a single attack. But aS, like all terrorist organisations, is built to be flexible, scalable and survivable, proven by a continuation of car bombings and assassinations in the city of Mogadishu including notable attacks on the Sahafi Hotel (again) and a miraa market that was regularly frequented by members of the security forces (again). aS also found time to slaughter a controversial Sufi cleric along with his family and guards in Galkayo and to execute some foreign fighters.

Someone also seemed to havetheir sights set on employees of the telecoms giant, Hormuud: there was much speculation that it could be aS or the Da’esh faction conducting extortion operations but it was also possible that the attacks were the work of other nefarious actors or just random killings. The attacks were indicative of the depth and duration of the violence that has afflicted Somalia, and it was no surprise that there was renewed interest in trying to address the effects of trauma at the individual and collective levels; a colossal but also vital task if stability is ever to take hold in Somalia.

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