January 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 23 December 2014
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In January 2015, the Council is expecting a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 120-day report on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). The briefing will be followed by consultations.

Key Recent Developments

On 29 October 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Mogadishu, along with World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim and senior representatives of the African Development Bank, AU, EU and Islamic Development Bank. The delegation met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari. In his public speech, Ban emphasised linkages between security and development, particularly the importance of public service delivery and strengthening government institutions. 

The security situation continues to be unstable in Somalia and in adjoining border regions of Kenya as Al-Shabaab carries out further terrorist attacks. On 22 November 2014, Al-Shabaab killed 28 non-Muslims (19 men and nine women) in an attack on a bus in north eastern Kenya. On 2 December, the group killed 36 workers at a quarry in the same border region. Al-Shabaab claimed the attacks were in retaliation for raids on mosques by Kenyan authorities. The Kenyan military has responded with airstrikes on the group in Somalia. On 3 December, Al-Shabaab attacked a UN convoy in Mogadishu, which resulted in several deaths among people nearby. On 5 December, more than 15 civilians were killed in another attack by the group in Baidoa. The Council issued press statements strongly condemning the terrorist attacks in Kenya on 22 November and in Mogadishu on 3 December.

For the second consecutive year, Somalia has had a fundamental political crisis, largely due to a protracted conflict between the president and the prime minister. On 2 November 2014, Special Representative Nicholas Kay issued a statement expressing concern that some parliamentarians were being offered cash to support a potential no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ahmed. On 6 November, 140 members of parliament submitted a motion expressing no confidence in the prime minister. Following several attempts to table the motion that were blocked by the prime minister’s supporters, the no-confidence motion passed on 6 December with 153 members in favour, eighty members against, and two members abstaining. Ahmed accepted the vote and resigned. On 10 December, Council members issued a press statement taking note of the no-confidence vote and welcoming the resolution of the crisis through proper parliamentary channels. On 17 December, President Mohamud nominated Omar Abdirashid Al Sharmarke, Somalia’s ambassador to the US (and prime minister in 2009-2010), as the new prime minister.     

One consequence of the recent political crisis in Somalia, precipitated by another fall-out between the president and a prime minister, has been a further weakening of confidence among some donors. On 10 November 2014, the US State Department said in a press statement that it would not be sending a delegation to the upcoming High Level Partnership Forum on Somalia because “Somalia’s leadership is distracted with political division”. According to media reports, James P. McAnulty, US representative to Somalia, explicitly threatened aid cuts unless the president and prime minister started cooperating. The event was held on 19-20 November and co-chaired by the UN and the Federal Government of Somalia and hosted by Denmark in Copenhagen; it was a follow-up to the New Deal Conference on Somalia held in Brussels in September 2013.

There were signs of statebuilding progress in Somalia on 17 November 2014, when Hassan Sheikh Adan was elected as the president of the newly formed Interim South West Administration (ISWA) comprising Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle regions. The formation of the ISWA was welcomed in a joint statement on 20 November by the UN, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the EU and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). On 17 December, the president of an overlapping, rival six-region state, Madobe Nunow Mohamed, reportedly reached a power sharing agreement with the ISWA.

The humanitarian situation has continued to deteriorate in Somalia, risking another famine. After draught conditions earlier in the year, southern Somalia has had severe floods, further exacerbating food insecurity. More than one million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, which represents a 20 percent increase within the last six months, and another two million people face threats to their food security. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Somalia currently has the largest humanitarian funding gap (measured in terms of contributions as a percentage of the consolidated appeal) within the last six years. As of 21 November, contributions were 39 percent ($365 million out of $933 million) of the request for 2014.

The Council last held a meeting on Somalia on 12 November 2014, when it adopted resolution 2184 reauthorising for one year counter-piracy measures off the coast of Somalia. Previously, on 24 October, the Council had adopted resolution 2182, which authorised counter-piracy naval deployments to interdict charcoal exports and arms imports violating the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea sanctions regime. Interestingly, resolution 2184, which was adopted unanimously, made no references to the more contentious maritime interdiction provisions authorised in resolution 2182, which had been adopted with abstentions by Jordan and Russia. 

Human Rights-Related Developments

Following a 6-13 December trip across Somalia, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in Somalia identified critical priorities for the government: ratifying key international human rights instruments, placing a moratorium on the use of the death penalty; and adopting a bill creating a national human rights institution. He also urged the government to respect the right to freedom of expression and protect journalists. While he praised Somalia for its adoption of a national action plan to combat sexual violence, he also expressed concern at capacity and resource constraints.

Key Issues

Within the limits of a largely insecure operational environment (e.g. ongoing counter-insurgency operations by AMISOM and terrorist attacks by Al-Shabaab), the principal issue for the Council in January could be to carefully consider whether and how UNSOM might potentially better implement its highly challenging mandate: good offices and mediation, advising on peacebuilding and statebuilding, donor coordination, facilitating human rights institutions and human rights monitoring. 

Options

An option for the Council, in light of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, would be to request a briefing from OCHA, including suggestions to improve humanitarian access.

As UNSOM’s mandate does not expire until four months after January’s briefing and consultations, another option would be to take no action.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Although the immediate political crisis in Somalia seems to have been resolved for now, the protracted dispute between the president and the prime minister laid bare underlying tensions between the Somali government and the UN. Following Kay’s statement regarding concerns that parliamentarians were being bribed in order to support a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, Mohamud issued a reply on 3 November 2014 that in essence told the UN to stay out of Somalia’s internal politics. While the government has previously had contentious relations with the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group supporting the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee, particularly regarding the issue of public financial mismanagement, this type of exchange with a Special Representative lacks precedent and may not bode well for UNSOM’s role in the peacebuilding and statebuilding tasks ahead.

The contentious split between Mohamud and Ahmed, coming just one year after the president had ousted the previous prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid, under similar circumstances on 2 December 2013, has further shaken donor confidence. Potentially, it could also lead to differences among key donors, including the US and the UK, which have been among the strongest backers of Somalia to date. The US sent a clear political signal in not attending the High Level Partnership Forum on Somalia (i.e. that it may be reconsidering its political backing and economic aid to the Somali government). Meanwhile, the UK seems to have sent a different message with the attendance and participation of Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who reminded those in attendance of previous donor conferences hosted in London in February 2012 and May 2013.         

The UK is the penholder on Somalia and Venezuela is expected to be the new chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee. 

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions
12 November 2014 S/RES/2184 This was a resolution renewing for one year measures to fight piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.
24 October 2014 S/RES/2182 This resolution authorised naval interdiction of illicit charcoal and illicit arms, renewed authorisation for AMISOM and renewed sanctions measures.
Security Council Press Statements
10 December 2014 SC/11691 This was a statement that welcomed the resolution of the political crisis in Somalia through parliamentary channels.
3 December 2014 SC/11681 This was a statement that condemned the attack on a UN convoy in Mogadishu by Al-Shabaab.
24 November 2014 SC/11668 This was a press statement condemning the 22 November attack in Kenya for which Al‑Shabaab has claimed responsibility and paid tribute to the role of Kenya in AMISOM as part of the fight against Al‑Shabaab.
Sanctions Committee Document
10 October 2014 S/2014/726 The Monitoring Group’s final report on Somalia.
Useful Additional Resource

Communique, High Level Partnership Forum, Copenhagen, 19-20 November 2014