May 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2015
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In May, the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), on the forthcoming Secretary-General’s report. The Council is also expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of UNSOM, which expires 28 May.

Key Recent Developments

Al-Shabaab has continued its violent operations both outside and inside Somalia. On 2 April, four Al-Shabaab gunmen attacked a university in Garissa, Kenya, resulting in the deaths of 142 students, six members of the security forces and the four attackers. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi on 7 August 1998. The slow response time of the special counter-terrorism police unit based in the capital, which apparently faced difficulties in accessing air transport, was widely criticised in domestic and international media. On 6 April, the Kenya Defence Forces announced the bombing of two Al-Shabaab training camps in Somalia, although eyewitnesses claimed only livestock were killed. The following day, the Kenyan authorities froze the bank accounts of 86 individuals and entities suspected of financing Al-Shabaab. On 11 April, Deputy President William Ruto ordered the UN Refugee Agency to close the Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya, home to more than 335,000 registered Somali refugees, within three months. Construction has also begun on a 700-kilometre wall on the border with Somalia.

Al-Shabaab has also increasingly resorted to terrorist attacks inside Somalia. On 20 February, at least 25 people including two members of parliament were killed when Al-Shabaab suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Central Hotel in Mogadishu. On 12 March, five Al-Shabaab gunmen attacked a government compound in Baidoa that houses local UN offices and the headquarters of the Interim South West Administration, resulting in at least eight deaths. On 27 March, a car bomb detonated at the Maka Al-Mukarama Hotel in Mogadishu, and an attack by Al-Shabaab gunmen killed more than ten people, including Somalia’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva. On 14 April, a car bomb and attack by seven Al-Shabaab gunmen at a government building in Mogadishu housing the ministries of education and natural resources killed at least eight civilians, two soldiers and the seven attackers. On 20 April, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for bombing a UN vehicle in Garowe, Puntland, which killed seven people, including four staff members of UNICEF. The following day, an Al-Shabaab car bomb detonated outside a restaurant near the Central Hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least ten people.  

Though on a lesser scale than the joint AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)-Somali National Army (SNA) military offensives Operation Eagle and Operation Indian Ocean in 2014, counter-insurgency efforts have continued this year, including the targeting of Al-Shabaab with US drone strikes. On 31 January, a US airstrike reportedly killed Yusuf Dheeg (also known as Abdi Nur Mahdi), identified as Al-Shabaab’s head of external operations. According to the US, a US drone strike on 12 March killed Al-Shabaab leader Adan Garar, who was suspected of involvement in the attack on the Westgate Mall in Kenya in 2013. On 22 March, a joint AMISOM/SNA military offensive captured the island of Kuday near Kismayo. According to an AMISOM statement, Kuday was an important logistics base and the last remaining Al-Shabaab stronghold in the region.    

As stipulated in resolution 2182, a joint AU-UN assessment mission is underway in Somalia with three purposes: to assess the situation in Somalia in relation to benchmarks for deploying a UN peacekeeping operation, to review the impact of the temporary surge in AMISOM personnel authorised by resolution 2124 and to provide recommendations regarding future military strategy. The mission’s report is due by 30 May. At Chatham House in London on 1 April, Ambassador Maman Sidikou, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of AMISOM, discussed AMISOM’s expectations regarding the conclusions to be drawn in the forthcoming joint review report. AMISOM’s priorities include the following: reconfiguring AMISOM with more specialists and enablers, providing enhanced support to the SNA and Somali Police Force, deploying more civilian personnel to support stabilisation, and more efficient delivery of financing and logistical support by the UN. Meanwhile, on 31 March, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon transmitted a letter notifying the Council of his intention to increase the UN guard unit protecting UNSOM from 410 troops to 530 troops.   

Politically, there have been intermittent signs of progress toward Vision 2016 (the government’s plan for regional state formation, constitutional revision and elections by October 2016). On 5 February, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke announced a 66-member administration: a deputy prime minister, 25 cabinet ministers, 14 state ministers and 26 deputy ministers. The federal parliament approved the appointments on 9 February. The Council issued a press statement the following day, welcoming the approval of the cabinet list (previous delays in forming an administration had been a source of political instability in Somalia). On 26 February, a sixth round of negotiations between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and secessionist Somaliland was due to start, but the talks were cancelled after Somaliland’s representatives refused to meet, claiming some of the officials in the FGS delegation were originally from Somaliland (and thus from their perspective not appropriate to represent the FGS). On 12 April, Sharmarke and Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” signed a 7-point bilateral cooperation agreement, committing to ensure regional states would be formed as specified in the provisional constitution. Puntland also committed to contributing 3,000 troops to the SNA.

The humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to be very poor. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are 731,000 people in a situation of humanitarian emergency and crisis, 2.3 million people in food security stress, 1.1 million internally displaced people and 1 million Somali refugees within the region. Forcible evictions of internally displaced persons in urban areas, particularly Mogadishu, have increased considerably with more than 25,000 in January and February of this year, according to the UN Refugee Agency (compared to 32,500 in total during 2014). Thus far, only 9 percent of the humanitarian appeal of $863 million for 2015 has been funded. Meanwhile, the flow of remittances to Somalia, estimated at $1.3 billion annually, has been threatened by developments in countries such as the US, where Merchants Bank of California announced in February that it would close the accounts of Somali money transfer businesses. Following the Al-Shabaab attack in Garissa on 2 April, Kenyan authorities announced the immediate closure of 13 Somalia-linked money transfer firms. The UN Refugee Agency objected to calls by Kenya to either close the Dabaab refugee camp or to relocate it to Somalia, citing Kenya’s obligations under international law and the extreme humanitarian consequences of a forced repatriation of refugees.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 8 April, the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee was briefed via video teleconference from Nairobi by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea regarding its mid-term report. The Monitoring Group highlighted public financial mismanagement as an issue of particular concern, noted the FGS’s slow pace of progress with regard to arms and ammunition management and indicated the risks posed to other countries within the region by Al-Shabaab’s terrorist tactics. The committee also discussed a joint proposal by the FGS and Monitoring Group regarding an exemption to the arms embargo for commercial vessels in Somali ports that had been requested in resolution 2182. As of press time, it seems the review of measures authorising maritime interdiction of illicit arms imports and illegal charcoal exports, due 24 April (six months from adoption) as specified in resolution 2182, had not yet been conducted.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In statements made on 31 March, the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, and the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the terrorist attack on the Maka al Mukarama Hotel in Mogadishu on 27 March. The attack resulted in the death of at least 18 people, including Ambassador Yusuf Mohamed Ismail “Bari Bari,” who was the Permanent Representative of Somalia to the UN in Geneva and played a crucial role in advancing human rights in Somalia, according to the statements.

Key Issues

In May, the principal issue will be assessing UNSOM’s implementation of its mandate within the context of a difficult political and security situation in Somalia. A related issue is the division of labour between the mandates of UNSOM and AMISOM, which is likely to be addressed within the joint AU-UN report due 30 May.   

Options

One option would be for the Council to renew UNSOM’s mandate without significant modification for a period of one year, as it did with resolution 2158 in May 2014.

Another option would be for the Council to renew UNSOM’s mandate for a period of six months, which would bring it into line with AMISOM’s authorisation expiring on 30 November. This would enable the Council to take a more integrated approach to reviewing and modifying the respective mandates of UNSOM and AMISOM.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members have largely cooperated regarding Somalia. Other than the vote on resolution 2182 authorising maritime interdiction of illicit arms imports and illegal charcoal exports, when Jordan and Russia abstained (the former objected to language regarding the scope of maritime interdiction, the latter was critical of the conduct of negotiations by the penholder), policymaking has been more collaborative than contested among Council members.

Resolution 2124, which increased AMISOM’s authorised troop strength from 17,731 to 22,126, was a step toward improving AU-UN relations regarding Somalia. However, if Sidikou’s remarks at Chatham House are indicative of things to come, earlier sources of tension between the AU and UN may resurface, such as the division of labour between AMISOM and UNSOM, and UN financing and logistical support for AMISOM. The forthcoming joint AU-UN report is likely to address these issues and may offer some clarification regarding the positions of the AU and UN.

The UK is the penholder on Somalia, and Venezuela is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee. 

UN DOCUMENTS

Security Council Resolutions
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.
29 May 2014 S/RES/2158 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNSOM for one year.
Security Council Letter
31 March 2015 S/2015/234 This letter communicated the Secretary-General’s intention to increase the UN guard unit supporting UNSOM from 410 to 530 personnel.
Secretary-General’s Report
23 January 2015 S/2015/51 This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNSOM.
Security Council Press Statements
20 April 2015 SC/11866 This press statement condemned the attack by Al-Shabaab on a UNICEF vehicle in Garowe, Somalia.
15 April 2015 SC/11863 This press statement condemned the attack by Al-Shabaab on the Ministry of Higher Education in Mogadishu.
3 April 2015 SC/11850 This press statement condemned the attack by Al-Shabaab on a university in Garissa, Kenya.
28 March 2015 SC/11844 This press statement condemned the attack by Al-Shabaab on a hotel in Mogadishu the previous day, which resulted in the numerous deaths of Somalis.
20 February 2015 SC/11791 This was a press statement that strongly condemn the attack on 20 February on the Central Hotel in Mogadishu, perpetrated by Al-Shabaab.
10 February 2015 SC/11773 This press statement welcomed the approval of the cabinet by the federal parliament of Somalia.
5 February 2015 SC/11769 This press statement expressed concern at the ongoing political crisis in Somalia, particularly delays in the formation of a new government.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL RESOURCE

Hanging by a Thread: The ongoing threat to Somalia’s remittance lifeline, Adeso, Global Center on Cooperative Security and Oxfam, 19 February 2015.