The deadlock pitting the President of the Somali Republic, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, elected in 2017, against various political and clan interests as well as a number of federal states is far from being resolved. The elections scheduled for February 8, 2021 were never held and the president rules by fiat that is helped by the fractured nature of the opposition. The unsettled domestic political situation in Somalia leaves little room for optimism that the previously agreed upon September 17, 2020 electoral model will be implemented.
In 2006 the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) – of which al-Shabaab was initially part before becoming the remaining ‘faction’ – introduced a new chapter of governance in Somalia based on its interpretation of the Shari’a (Islamic Law). Using Islam as its foundation and claiming to introduce a ‘purely’ Islamic government in Somalia, al-Shabaab brought a different perspective to the Somali governance that dominated since 1991 (end of the government of Siad Barre) creating a foothold for clan and sub-clan aligned warlords.
Thirty years ago, on May 18th, 1991, the Republic of Somaliland declared independence. This separation from Somalia, which had not been legally prepared and was not politically supported by any other state, certainly was a bold move back then. For over a decade it was impossible to predict what would really come out of the secession. But today it is clear: Somaliland is one of the most stable de facto states in the world: it has a clearly demarcated territory (at least on paper), a permanent population, and a legitimate government.
Over the past three decades, few states have experienced prolonged conflict or repeatedly failed at establishing effective government as Somalia has. Perhaps only matched by Afghanistan, Somalia’s capital Mogadishu is once again on the brink of cataclysm caused by recent violent clashes between security forces —loyal to the incumbent President Mohammed Abdullahi ‘Farmaajo’— and forces loyal to the opposition since the Lower House of Parliament’s decision to extend the president’s term by two years on April 12th, 2021.
In a statement released on April, 13th 2021, EU Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell Fontelles expressed deep concern about the ongoing political and constitutional crisis in Somalia. In his words, the European Union “could under no circumstances accept an extension of the government mandate” without the parties agreeing to their previous electoral deal.
The deteriorating relationship between Kenya and Somalia amidst the global pandemic and internal and regional political dynamics has raised a red flag. There are concerns for the dispute to spark an armed confrontation if it proceeds with the current trajectory.
Over the last decades, experts and practitioners have frequently described Somalia as the quintessential collapsed state: because of state fragility, Somalia is seen as a reign of anarchy nurturing terrorism. According to this narrative, externally assisted forms of counter-terrorism, peace- and state-building are the most preferable and feasible solution to address state fragility.
In Somalia’s long and turbulent road towards rebuilding state-wide institutions and granting its citizens acceptable living conditions, for every two steps forward the country seems to take a step backwards. A new crisis has been unfolding in Mogadishu, this time around a primarily political one.
Intra-state conflicts in the Horn of Africa have always had a devastating domino effect, making the region one of Africa's most highly unpredictable and conflictive zones.
Nel maggio del 2020 il rilascio della cooperante italiana Silvia Romano, rapita e tenuta in ostaggio per quasi due anni dall’organizzazione terroristica al-Shabaab, ha suscitato grande interesse e forte emozione in Italia. Ad attirare l’attenzione, in particolare, sono state le circostanze dietro la sua liberazione e la modalità in cui questa è avvenuta. Sappiamo, ad esempio, che Silvia Romano si trovava in Somalia, a circa 30km dalla capitale Mogadiscio.
The mid-May 2020 release of the Italian aid worker Silvia Romano, kidnapped and held hostage for nearly two years by the terrorist organization al-Shabaab, aroused great interest and strong emotion in Italy. The reactions occurred, in part, because of the way her release unfolded. We know, for example, that Romano was in Somalia at the time, about 30 kilometres from the capital, Mogadishu. She was freed after an undisclosed ransom was paid, reportedly amounting to millions of euros.