l-to-r: Diriye, who might be dead; Qalbi Dhagah on his way into and then out of captivity; & the new Somali shilling
JUNE saw a continuation of aS’s increased pace of attacks during the Holy Month of Ramadan, with the obligatory multiple attacks in the hinterland and numerous assassinations. A US soldier was killed and others injured in fighting in the Jubba River Valley, which sadly eclipsed the results of the US investigation into a recent accusation of civ cas.
To counter the stream of assassinations in Mogadishu, the security forces set up a special undercover squad to try to interdict the assassins. The ISIS/Da’esh Faction issued many videos, aS a few. Checkpoints were enhanced in an attempt to interdict complex attacks: some members of the public expressed peevishness about the hassle of being searched, but the broader consensus was that being delayed was better than being blown up. But ultimately Eid al-Fitr came without any major incident in the city and the read from sensible commentators was that aS’s 2018 Ramadan campaign was a flop.
There was much speculation about the health of the Emir of aS, Diriye, possibly as part of a ‘draw’ to force the elusive leader to expose himself in the media (and, therefore, to targeting), possibly based on fact. Robow, on the other hand, was in fine fettle, and went on pilgrimage to Mecca as part of a tried and tested process of symbolic atonement and reintegration.
The National Security Council met in Baidoa and issued a wide-ranging statement: about enhanced support to Galmudug and Puntland in combatting aS; about the commitment to the 2020 Election and the principal of one-man, one-vote; and about securing rural arteries (because secure towns without secure roads in between them are pointless). The Council for Internal Cooperation met amid continued tensions between Somaliland and Puntland. The PM visited Norway and Rwanda.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister visited and a succession of events followed, possibly related, possibly not: there were rumours of port deals; Ethiopia issued a broad amnesty which included the ONLF leader, Qalbi Dhagah, who had been handed over to the Ethiopians in 2017 by the FGS; and the Ethiopian General Gebre, a hate figure for many Somalis for his alleged actions during the 2006 invasion, was dismissed from IGAD. There was much nationalistic fury.
Stormy weather continued to threaten to turn into a humanitarian crisis and the fishing industry suffered. The Banadir Regional Authority began to demolish structures built illegally on public land. A cunning new plan to persuade pirate gangs to release their remaining captives (many of whom had been simply abandoned by their shipping companies and, in some cases, their home countries) by paying ‘expenses’ rather than ransoms seemed to be successful.
The impending exchange of the existing Somali shilling for new, verified notes ran into difficulties when currency traders rejected the current notes. This was a pity, since a rejuvenated Somali Shilling represented a symbol of progress in financial transparency and maybe even a symbol of national unity for people to gather around.