Somalia

Archive Profile

2014 Country Profile

Over the past year, Somalia has faced numerous political and security setbacks, but has also made notable political and territorial gains. With the help of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has successfully pushed Al Shabaab from many of its former strongholds and taken steps toward developing the type of federal system that was only sketched out in its Provisional Constitution. While many of the optimistic predictions following the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, in September 2012, have been brought back to earth, and many of the core political and security questions facing Somalia and the international community remain unanswered, there is a sense that a window of opportunity remains open in Somalia.

The year also saw an increased international investment in Somalia. The UNs’ role in Somalia was expanded as the UN Political Office for Somalia was dissolved and replaced by a new Mogadishu-based UN Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) with a broader mandate. Following the high-profile attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September 2013, the UN Security Council (UNSC) increased its support for the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), which then made a major push to claim new territory from Al Shabaab control. This security effort was coupled the promise of increased development assistance under the New Deal framework, which is intended to expand Somali control over how international support is allocated.

While there is reason for optimism, daunting challenges remain: AMISOM and the FGS have struggled to establish governance and provide basic services in the areas they have reclaimed; security challenges posed by a resilient Al Shabaab continue to severely limit the UN’s ability to operate in Somalia; and a string of Somali political disruptions and scandals have damaged donor confidence, resulting in mutual disillusionment. These challenges will continue to confront both Somali and international actors for the foreseeable future.

Background

 Since the fall of the Said Barre regime in 1991 and the collapse of the central state, Somalia has faced over two decades of chronic instability, clan-based violence, civilian displacement, and widespread food insecurity.  In 1992, in response to the rapidly deteriorating situation, the UNSC to impose a full arms-embargo and establish the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNSOM I) to support UN humanitarian relief operations. Eight months later, the UNSC followed up by voting to authorize Read More...

Key developments

 Political 2013 and 2014 saw significant developments in Somalia’s political evolution, as well as a notable expansion of the UN’s role. With UNSCR 2102 (2013), the Security Council created the UN Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) and put itself on a course to significantly increase its presence in Somalia. At the same time, the UN signaled it intended to shift focus from humanitarian projects to development assistance. In March 2013, the Security Council declared that UNPOS had fulfilled its miss Read More...

Conclusion

The picture of Somalia today is a mixture of encouraging indicators and warning signs. While AMISOM has successfully reclaimed territory and the FGS, with the support of the UN, has taken a number of important political steps, it remains unclear how those gains will be consolidated and how the remaining major political questions will be resolved. If the current positive momentum is to be maintained, a greater degree of risk taking will be required on all sides. UNSOM has made laudable progress, Read More...

Somalia made considerable political and security progress in 2012. The creation of a national constituent assembly and federal parliament heralded the end of the transitional period, while AU forces made significant gains in their operations against al-Shabaab. However, the delay of a number of political reforms and the continued security challenges— demonstrated most clearly in the assassination attempt against the new president only two days after his election—underscore that gains made risk reversal without dedicated national efforts and continued international support.

Background

Since 1991, when Somalia was swept by clan-based violence after the collapse of Siad Barre’s regime, the country has been characterized by chronic instability, violence, poverty, chronic cycles of food crises, and civilian displacement on a catastrophic scale. In response to the cycles of instability in Somalia, the UN Security Council authorized a series of peacekeeping operations, including a US-led multinational force in 1992, with the UN assuming control for the operation in 1993. Heavy ca Read More...

Key developments

Security The year 2012 saw significant changes in the overall security dynamics in Somalia, primarily due to increased support to AMISOM, which for years has lacked the capacity to implement its broad and complex mandate and secure anything more than small sections of Mogadishu. In January 2012 the AU Peace and Security Council endorsed a new strategic concept for the AMISOM mission, which was developed with UN support. The concept included a commitment to the deployment of additional troops, pr Read More...

Conclusion

With the recent gains in security coupled with the end of the transition period, Somalia has entered a period of positive momentum. Security is improving in the capital and beyond. Business owners and investors are slowly returning, and concrete political gains have fostered a sense of optimism in Mogadishu. However, despite significant security gains, al-Shabaab continues to remain a serious threat, and the security achievements have to be consolidated by an expeditious political response. In t Read More...