October 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 October 2015
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In October, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare is expected to brief the Council on the strategic review of the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA).  The report is due 30 September.  

The Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on Somalia-Eritrea sanctions. The authorisation for maritime interdiction of illicit charcoal exports and illegal arms imports expires 24 October; the partial lifting of the arms embargo expires 30 October; and the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group expires 30 November. 

Key Recent Developments

On 19 July, the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced a resumption of offensive military operations, Operation Jubba Corridor, targeting Al-Shabaab strongholds in the Bakool, Bay and Gedo regions of southern Somalia. The offensive is being undertaken by contingents of AMISOM from the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF), with supporting units from the Somali National Army (SNA) and in collaboration with “strategic partners”, which is typically an implicit reference to the US. Media reports suggest that 3,000 additional non-AMISOM ENDF troops have also participated in the new offensive, backed with airstrikes by Ethiopia and Kenya. On 22 July, SNA troops supported by AMISOM captured the town of Baardheere, a long-time Al-Shabaab stronghold, representing a significant victory for the new offensive. However, AMISOM has also faced numerous charges of civilian casualties, including two separate incidents in the town of Marka, Lower Shabelle region, on 21 and 31 July.       

Operation Jubba Corridor was launched just a few weeks after AMISOM had suffered perhaps its worst military defeat. On 26 June, Al-Shabaab overran a base in Leego (100 kilometres northwest of Mogadishu), killing approximately 50 Burundian troops. Al-Shabaab launched suicide attacks on the Siyad Hotel and the Weheliye Hotel in Mogadishu on 10 July and the Jazeera Palace Hotel in Mogadishu on 26 July. On 1 September, Al-Shabaab attacked an AMISOM base at Janaale (100 kilometres southeast of Mogadishu), killing at least 12 Ugandan troops. In contrast to the attacks in Mogadishu, which have become increasingly typical of Al-Shabaab’s tactics as it loses territory in south-central Somalia, the AMISOM reversals at Leego and Janaale were unexpected as it was generally assumed that Al-Shabaab no longer had sufficient military capacity to engage directly with AMISOM troops. Council members issued press statements condemning the 26 June, 26 July and 1 September attacks by Al-Shabaab.  

The political situation in Somalia has been in a state of flux, with uneven progress toward realising the Vision 2016 goals (federal state formation, new constitution and national elections). On 28 July, the Federal Parliament passed a resolution stating that a country-wide ‘one person, one vote’ election would not be possible in 2016 due to political delays, technical issues and security challenges. On 29 and 30 July, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Special Representative of the Secretary-General Nicholas Kay co-chaired the High-level Partnership Forum (HLPF) in Mogadishu. The meeting, attended by 32 delegations, was a follow-up to a conference held in Copenhagen in November 2014. On 3 August, envoys representing the UN, the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the EU, AMISOM, the UK, and the US issued a statement welcoming the commitments made at the HLPF and recognising that ‘one person, one vote’ elections will not be possible in 2016. On 20 August, the six envoys issued another joint statement expressing concern regarding a 12 August motion by 95 members of the Federal Parliament to impeach President Mohamud.  On 25 September, the parliament’s speaker, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari, announced the motion had been dropped due to insufficient support (a two-thirds majority of the 275 members of parliament would have been required to pass). 

The humanitarian situation in Somalia has deteriorated further. According to the latest assessment presented on 31 August by the Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Security and Nutritional Analysis Unit, within the last six months the number of people who face a food crisis or emergency has increased 17 percent, from 731,000 to 855,000. Another 2.3 million people are food-stressed and also require humanitarian assistance. Food insecurity is projected to worsen during 2015 due to low agricultural production, poor rains, the disruption of trade in conflict-affected areas and internal displacement.

Kenya has renewed its threat to close the Dadaab refugee camp or relocate it across the border with Somalia. Kenya briefed the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) on 24 July on its efforts to fight Al-Shabaab and its plans regarding the Dadaab refugee camp. The AU PSC issued a statement on 31 July taking note of Kenya’s briefing and requesting the AU Commission to submit a report with recommendations by early October. A representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees recently emphasised that voluntary return remains one of three potential durable solutions for the more than 400,000 refugees in Dadaab (in addition to integration in Kenya or resettlement in a third country), but that conditions are not yet conducive to a large-scale return of refugees to Somalia.

The Council last discussed Somalia on 16 July, when Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s 2 July letter transmitting the joint AU-UN review report of 30 June. Ambassador Awale Kullane (Somalia) also addressed the Council. The public briefing was followed by consultations with Mulet and Ambassador Rafael Ramírez (Venezuela), chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee, who presented a 120-day briefing. On 28 July, the Council adopted resolution 2232, extending the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 30 March 2016 and reauthorising AMISOM through 30 May 2016.

A high-level meeting on Somalia was held in New York on 28 September, co-chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Mohamud among others.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 31 July, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office announced a criminal investigation into UK-based oil exploration firm Soma Oil and Gas in relation to allegations of corruption in Somalia. The Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group has also been investigating the oil company with respect to concerns regarding the misappropriation of public financial resources, which is among the listing criteria for sanctions. Soma Oil and Gas, which first signed an exploration contract with the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2013, is chaired by Michael Howard, a former leader of the Conservative Party. 

On 18 September, the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee held informal consultations. The meeting concerned the annual report of the Emergency Relief Coordinator regarding the humanitarian exemption to Somalia sanctions.

Human Rights-Related Developments

The Human Rights Council considered the report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Bahame Nyanduga, during its 30th session in September.

Key Issues

In October, the Council’s focus will return to issues raised within the context of the joint AU-UN review, particularly the SNA support package and the performance of UNSOA. 

Another set of issues that will come up in October concern sanctions, principally the Federal Government of Somalia’s management of arms and ammunition and implementation of maritime interdiction measures regarding arms and charcoal.

Options

Regarding modification of the SNA support package or adjusting the mandate of UNSOA, it seems the Council is most likely to defer taking action until November.

With respect to sanctions, the most probable option would be for the Council to renew the partial lifting of the arms embargo, maritime interdiction and the mandate of the Monitoring Group. 

Council and Wider Dynamics

While Council members have generally been collaborative regarding Somalia policymaking, certain differences could resurface within the context of the reauthorisation for maritime interdiction. Two Council members, Jordan and Russia, abstained on resolution 2182. Jordan objected to the geographic scope, the range of interdicting actors, and the “reasonable grounds” basis for maritime interdiction. Russia suggested that the Arab Group and the Gulf Cooperation Council had not been adequately consulted during negotiation of the draft resolution.  

The AU-UN joint review presented analyses and recommendations that were mutually agreed upon by the two organisations, and relations between the AU and UN have been increasingly positive with respect to Somalia policy. However, earlier differences between the AU and the UN—particularly with respect to financing and equipping AMISOM—could reappear during consultations in October and the potential adoption of a resolution in November on UNSOA and the SNA support package. Members of both the Council and the AU PSC, Chad and Nigeria, could play an important role.   

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

UN DOCUMENTS

Security Council Resolutions
28 July 2015 S/RES/2232 This was a resolution that extended the mandate of UNSOM until 30 March 2016 and reauthorised AMISOM through 30 May 2016.
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 Letters
18 September 2015 S/2015/731 This letter transmitted the report of the Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Security Council Meeting Records
16 July 2015 S/PV.7487 This was a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet regarding the joint AU-UN review of UN peacekeeping benchmarks, the AMISOM troop surge and military strategy.
24 October 2014 S/PV.7286 This meeting concerned the adoption of resolution 2182, with explanations of votes by Jordan and Russia who abstained.
Security Council Press Statements
1 October 2015 SC/12033 This press statement condemned the 1 September Al-Shabaab attack against an AMISOM base in Janaale.
27 July 2015 SC/11981 This was a press statement that condemned the suicide attack against the Jazeera Palace Hotel in Mogadishu on 26 July.
27 June 2015 SC/11949 This press statement condemned Al-Shabaab’s 26 June attack on AMISOM.
Secretary-General’s Reports
11 September 2015 S/2015/702 This Secretary-General’s Report was on UNSOM.
USEFUL ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Paul D. Williams, “Special Report: How Many Fatalities Has the African Union Mission in Somalia Suffered?”, IPI Global Observatory, 10 September 2015.

Jason Mosley, Somalia’s Federal Future: Layered Agendas, Risks and Opportunities, Chatham House, September 2015.