17 December – Source: Xinhuanet – 235 Words
Several senior Al-Shabaab militants were killed in a drone strike on the outskirts of the coastal city of Kismayo in southern Somalia. A military official who prefers not to be named said several strikes hit an Al-Shabaab base in Berhani, some 60 km south of Kismayo, killing several senior militants. Residents of Berhani said there were huge explosions early hours of Saturday.
“We heard huge explosions and the earth was shaking. We are told Al-Shabaab base was hit by American drones,” a resident said. “The strike hit the base where the militants were meeting leading to several casualties,” the military officer from the Somali National Army said but did not indicate any figures.
There is no official confirmation from the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) yet. Africom, which has been using drones to attack Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State (IS), carried out at least ten strikes in southern and northern Somalia in November. The strike came barely a week after another hit a minivan suspected to be ferrying explosives in Lower Shabelle region.
Somalia’s defense minister Mohamed Ali Haga told journalists on Friday the country needed more U.S. drone strikes to counter the militant groups in the country as African Union forces begin to exit the country this month. “The Somali security sector is still disorganized. And we need more drone strikes because a drone can strike the snake in the head.”
- Senior Al-Shabaab Militants Killed In Somalia Drone Strike: Official (Xinhuanet)
- Attorney General Accuses Two MPs For Treason (Hiiraan Online)
- Military Chief Gen. Gorod Rebuffs Graft Reports Against National Army (Goobjoog News)
- Somali Journalist Celebrates His Release From Ethiopian Jail (Shabelle Media)
- AMISOM Trains South West Police Officers On Countering Improvised Explosive Devices (AMISOM)
- Somalia PM Says His Government Demanded US Aid Cut (Voice of America)
- US Defense Secretary Optimistic About Improving Somalia Accountability (Voice of America)
Attorney General Accuses Two MPs For Treason
17 December – Source: Hiiraan Online – 244 Words
Somalia’s Attorney General, Ahmed Ali Dahir has called on the Somali parliament to strip impunity from two lawmakers in order to prosecute them for treasonable offenses. Dahiye accused the MPs who are identified as Abdinasir Shuriye and Hassan Moalim Mohamed of conspiring to bring down the government. “Today we have submitted a written document to the speaker of the Lower House Mohamed Osman Jawari containing clear proof and detailed investigations on two MPs and their subsequent removal of their immunities to face the law,” said Dahiye, adding “They are accused of mobilizing illegal activities among them to destroy the Somali nation.”
He noted that his office decided to arrest the two and to arraign in court. “We want to make clear the existence of lawmakers who were recently involved in activities to bring down the government using funds they got from foreign countries. It is imperative to take lawful steps against them,” he said.
The parliament has yet to comment on the development. “From the President, all the way down to the lower level civil servants are all the same in the eyes of the law.” Dahir said in a televised statement, “I want to reiterate that we will not accept ignorance of the law as an excuse, we have a responsibility as citizens and lawmakers to know the law once they are in effect.” If the parliament gives a green light to Mr.Dahir’s request, Shuriye and Moalim will be the first legislators held accountable.
Military Chief Gen. Gorod Rebuffs Graft Reports Against National Army
17 December – Source: Goobjoog News – 336 Words
Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Abdiweli Gorod has dismissed accusations that, the military is steeped in corruption forcing the US to hold back its funding for the troops. Gen. Gorod said he is not aware of graft practices within the military noting he is committed to ensuring accountability and transparency in the force. “We know they are cutting aid to us but we don’t know of any corruption or any initiative taken by them [US],” said Gen. Gorod.
The US defense department announced this past week it was cutting aid to the Somali National Army over concerns of graft. Citing field visits to various military camps in the country, Pentagon said it was dismayed to learn funds to the army were not properly utilized. In one instance, it notes less than a fifth of the soldiers listed by Somali commanders were present in one of the camps.
“The best-staffed base had 160 soldiers out of 550. Only 60 had weapons,” a statement to Somali government from Pentagon read. “The SNA is a fragile force with extremely weak command and control,” the report said. “They are incapable of conducting effective operations or sustaining themselves.”
But Gen. Gorod said Somali army will rely on existing resources to carry on. “We shall depend on ourselves since this army was employed by the Somali government and it will shoulder it. We don’t think problems will be there” said General Gorod. Prime Minister Hassan Khaire said Saturday however the decision to suspend the aid was based on evidence of graft in the military and that the cut was based on agreement with the US.
“We have done a study that made it possible to find out the challenges against rebuilding our national army, including diversion of soldiers’ salaries, lying about the list of the active and alive military personnel, and as a result, we have jointly decided to suspend the U.S. aid to parts of Somalia’s military for a few weeks until we improve and fix the errors,” Khaire said.
Somali Journalist Celebrates His Release From Ethiopian Jail
17 December – Source: Shabelle Media – 128 Words
Somali Journalist Mohamed Aweys Mudey known as “Boqorka Bartamaha” is celebrating for regaining his freedom after being released from a jail in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The veteran journalist has been behind bars in the capital city of Ethiopia for more than four years after he was sentenced to 27 years in prison over terror-related charges. He was freed on the request of Federal Government of Somalia led by President Farmajo.
Mudey arrived in Mogadishu on Sunday, according to his media colleagues. He is part of many Somali citizens released from Ethiopian jails in recent months. The release of the prisoners came following the visit of Somali PM Hassan Ali Khaire to Addis Ababa in June 2017 and signed a deal with his Ethiopian counterpart Hailemariam Desalegn.
17 December – Source: AMISOM – 428 Words
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has concluded a ten-day training course on countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for the South West state police officers. The training, held in the administrative capital, Baidoa, focused on prevention and detection of IEDs which has become the preferred weapon of choice for Al-Shabaab and other militant groups in Somalia.
Speaking during the closing ceremony, Tresphord Kasale, the AMISOM Police Coordinator for South West state said the training was aimed at equipping the Somali police with vital skills to detect explosives planted by terrorists. “We have just finished the course on IED and EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) for 15 participants drawn from Somali police force. The purpose of this course was to create awareness (among) the officers so that they are able to identify IEDs and be able to call upon experts to come and defuse them,” Kasale said.
The AMISOM Police Coordinator said the training was also aimed at creating awareness among the general public on the dangers of explosives and how to identify them. He urged the public to inform security officers whenever they detect or identify an IED, for safe handling and detonation, to prevent loss of life and destruction of property. AMISOM Inspector of Police, Sahr Emmanuel Kobai-Aruna, noted that the training was meant to enhance the capacity of the South West Police Force, adding that the officers were taken through a number of topics on safety and security.
16 December – Source: Voice of America – 350 Words
Somalia’s prime minister, Hassan ali-Khaire, said his government had demanded the U.S. briefly suspend aid to much of Somalia’s armed forces in an effort to improve transparency and accountability following corruption concerns. Speaking Saturday to reporters in Mogadishu, Khaire blamed former Somali governments for U.S. concerns about corruption. “In the first month in office, my government stood for the need for Somalia to be governed on transparency principles,” he said. “To ensure such principles, Somalia and the U.S. government have agreed to this aid suspension.”
He said that the pause in assistance was part of his government’s effort to fight corruption by tackling misconduct and opening the door to accountability. “We have done a study that made it possible to find out the challenges against rebuilding our national army, including diversion of soldiers’ salaries, lying about the list of the active and alive military personnel, and as a result, we have jointly decided to suspend the U.S. aid to parts of Somalia’s military for a few weeks until we improve and fix the errors,” Khaire said.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that he was optimistic about improving Somali accountability concerning the distribution of American aid to Somali armed forces. “I’m sure we can get this thing under control, even if it’s not for the whole, but for parts of it,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. Despite the aid suspension, Khaire said his government was confident that it had gained the trust of both Somali people and its international partners.
OPINION, ANALYSIS AND CULTURE
“Plans to suspend the support will be a “big setback” to the effort by Somali security forces to fight Al-Shabaab, warned former Somali Defense Minister General Abdulkadir Ali Dini. Dini, who worked closely with American officials in Somalia for many years, first as chief of the Somali national army and later as defense minister, said the decision did not come at the right time.”
15 December – Source: Voice of America – 422 Words
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Friday that he was optimistic about improving Somali accountability concerning the distribution of American aid to Somali armed forces, much of which was suspended because of corruption concerns. “I’m sure we can get this thing under control, even if it’s not for the whole, but for parts of it,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
The suspension reflected the Somali military’s repeated inability to account for aid items, such as food, fuel and weapons. The massive “pause” in aid is being made “to ensure that U.S. assistance is being used effectively and for its intended purpose,” a State Department official said. It will “affect the majority of U.S. logistical support and stipends assistance” to the Somali armed forces “until additional transparency and accountability measures are in place,” Marion Wohlers, the spokesperson for African affairs at the State Department, told VOA.
The Somali government has agreed to develop new accountability criteria that meet American standards, a State Department official said. Mattis said changing a “culture of corruption” takes time, adding that Somalia had “finally got a president worth supporting.” “We have a good relationship with President [Mohamed Abdullahi] Farmajo and his administration, but as you know, he inherited a very difficult situation,” Mattis said.
Some assistance to continue; Somali security force members who are actively fighting al-Shabab and receiving some form of mentorship from either the U.S. or a third party will continue to receive appropriate assistance, officials said. According to documents obtained by the Reuters news agency, the Somali military has been unable to properly feed, pay or equip its soldiers, despite having received hundreds of millions of dollars of American support.
A U.S.-Somali team sent to nine Somali army bases between May and June of this year found that evidence of the arrival of food aid or its consumption by soldiers was present at only two of the bases, Reuters reported. Plans to suspend the support will be a “big setback” to the effort by Somali security forces to fight Al-Shabaab, warned former Somali Defense Minister General Abdulkadir Ali Dini.
Dini, who worked closely with American officials in Somalia for many years, first as chief of the Somali national army and later as defense minister, said the decision did not come at the right time. “If the United States suspends food, fuel and stipends, that will hamper the war and work against the enemy and terrorists,” he said. “It does not help these operations, and it damages morale.”