February 1, 2018 | Morning Headlines

Main Story

New AMISOM Force Commander Takes Office, Vows To Stabilize Somalia

31 January – Source: Xinhuanet – 248 Words

A new Force Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) assumed office on Wednesday and pledged to enhance security across the Horn of Africa nation. A statement from the AU mission said Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire took over from Osman Noor Soubagleh, who has been in office since July 2016. Owoyesigire pledged to continue with the work already started, especially with capacity building of the Somali National Army (SNA). “All of us here have one problem, and that is Al-Shabaab. We don’t have to collocate with Al-Shabaab. We need to fight him, break his backbone and then finally eradicate him. That’s my goal and I will achieve it,” Owoyesigire said.

His priorities include overseeing a seamless, gradual and conditions-based transition and transfer of the security responsibility from AMISOM, to the Somali security forces, and destroying the remaining pockets of the Al-Qaida affiliated Al-Shabaab militants. With 39-year experience in the military, Owoyesigire brings to the Force vast knowledge in Field Artillery and Air Defence, having served the Ugandan military as Air Force Commander and Division Commander – Field Artillery Division, among other capacities. “In my career, I have never withdrawn from the battlefield for the last 39 years and I like training; which am going to do with the Somali National Army, operate with them and when times comes, for the transition to handover the power, I will do that,” he said. Owoyesigire holds two Masters degrees, in defense and strategic studies and in religion, peace and conflict resolution.

Key Headlines

  • New AMISOM Force Commander Takes Office Vows To Stabilize Somalia (Xinhua)
  • Somali Electoral Body To Register Candidates For 3 Federal Vacant Seats Within This Week (Goobjoog News)
  • Hirshabelle Plans To Reopen Main Roads Blocked By Al-Shabaab (Hiiraan Online)
  • Somalia: More Than 1500 Children Orphaned After Twin Blasts (Al Jazeera)
  • Somali Government UNDP And UN-HABITAT Launch Innovation Challenge For Young People (UNSOM)
  • Al-Shabaab: Inside The Ranks Of Women Fighters (The East African)


Somali Electoral Body To Register Candidates For 3 Federal Vacant Seats Within This Week

31 January – Source: Goobjoog News – 146 Words

Somali Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) today announced the time to register candidates for 3 vacant federal seats is between,  31st January to 5th February 2018 barely within six days starting from today. Chairperson Halim Ismail Ibrahim expressed her request regarding the particulars  of the candidates for the three federal vacant seats and their respective tribal delegates. The vacant seats are in Jubbaland, Galmudug and HirShabelle regional federal members states.

The political seats were made vacant by federal ministers Mr. Abass Abdullahi Siraj, Mr. Bootan Isse Aalin and Mr. Said Hassan Gedi whom all passed away under different circumstances. Four days ago, the electoral body held its first post president Farmaajo’s election in Jowhar town, Hirshabelle state, after it was vacated by MP Mohamed Ali Sanbalolshe, when he was appointed as head of NISA however, lost the seat to Mr.  Noor Iidow Belye who was elected recently.

Hirshabelle Plans To Reopen Main Roads Blocked By Al-Shabaab

31 January – Source: Hiiraan Online – 148 Words

Hirshabelle state has announced plans to re-open roads linking towns in the state that are currently blocked by Al-Shabaab. Hirshabelle President, Mohamed Abdi Waare said Somali forces are conducting operations to re-open and secure roads in Hirshabelle regions. President Waare pointed out that the forces already dismantled roadblocks set up by the Al-Shabaab  militants between Jowhar and Bal’ad towns. He underscored that the plans to open and secure main supply routes will be augmented with operations to rid of the Al-Shabaab fighters from the state.

The group controls large swaths of land in the south and central Somalia. They erect checkpoints and use the roads connecting the towns to launch attacks against Somali security forces and her allies. Al-Shabaab militants have cut off main roads leading to several towns in central Somalia and Southern which the group lost to the troops of Somali government backed by AU forces.


Somali Government, UNDP And UN-HABITAT Launch Innovation Challenge For Young People (UNSOM)

31 January – Source: UNSOM – 579 Words

Youth in Somalia are being urged to develop solutions for tackling the many problems facing internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their country. A major “innovation challenge” initiative to seek ideas from young Somalis on improving the living conditions of IDPs was launched today by the Federal Government of Somalia and two UN agencies, the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).

The challenge is part of an ongoing UNDP-led project dubbed “Innovate for Somalia” in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry. The third of its kind, the new innovation project is open to young Somali IDPs, returnees and young people from host communities. Top UN officials including the Under Secretary-General and Administrator of the UNDP, Achim Steiner, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, and World Bank Senior Vice-President Mahmoud Mohieldin expressed their full support for the project during their discussions with young Somalis on the second day of their visit to Somalia.

Youth participants at the camp explained their business ideas to the visiting UN officials and Mr. Mohieldin, which range from online applications and tools, to improved milk processing and livestock feeding techniques. “No country wants to be reliant on emergency assistance,” Mr. Lowcock told a gathering of young innovators in the capital Mogadishu. “And the only way I can achieve my dream of not being needed anymore (as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator) is if Achim (Steiner) is fantastically successful in helping all of you to be fantastically successful. As far as I am concerned, you are the solution, and good luck,” he remarked.

An official of the federal planning ministry welcomed innovative ideas developed by young Somalis that can address the various social and economic difficulties facing their country. “We really don’t want to be dependent on humanitarian support. This is the way out, and this is something we can look into,” said the ministry’s resilience coordinator Abdullahi Alas. Mr. Steiner advised the youth to develop professional networks to promote their innovations. “We do a lot of emergency support. But what we love the most is to work with people like you because if we can succeed with you, to help you to the next level, you will take Somalia to its next level,” he said.

Somalia: More Than 1500 Children Orphaned After Twin Blasts

30 January – Source: Al-Jazeera – Video: 2:32

Somalia has suffered countless bomb attacks over the years, but the twin explosions in Mogadishu three months ago were the largest ever, killing more than 500 people. More than 1,500 children became orphans as a result of the attack in which many of the victims were parents.


“The picture of women’s involvement in violent extremism as enablers and sympathisers is complex, as aptly summarised by an Anti-Terror Police Unit officer quoted in the report: “Some women are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are the caregivers to the terrorist and play a supportive role; they are facilitators because they are least suspected,” said a police officer.”

Al-Shabaab: Inside The Ranks Of Women Fighters

31 January – Source: The East Africa – 2015 Words

A combination of family ties, the desire to avenge ill-treated loved ones and economic distress is driving some young Kenyan women into the arms of Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab. Once recruited, the women play various roles in the violent extremist group as recruiters, spies, cooks and cleaners, according to a report by the Institute for Security Studies in Africa. Researchers interviewed 108 women from communities in Nairobi, Mombasa, Garissa, Diani, Kwale and Kisumu, which have been affected by violent extremism. They also spoke to women who had returned from Al-Shabaab camps, civil society and community leaders and organisers, as well as government officials and donors.

Responses from the study, “Violent Extremism in Kenya: Why women are a priority”, provide an expansive view of women beyond being mere victims of violent extremism. Even though the full extent of women’s involvement in violent extremism remains unknown, researchers Irene Ndung’u and Uyo Salifu found that women were more actively involved in non-combative or indirect roles than in direct ones. The indirect roles women play appear to be more prominent than direct participation as perpetrators of violent extremist acts. Globally, women are trapped into violent extremism and terrorism by strong relationship ties based on family, kinship and romance. They may also be driven by grievances regarding their economic and socio-political circumstances and a commitment to and/or the oppression of certain religious or ideological beliefs.

The interplay between these drivers, which create the dynamics for women’s involvement in violent extremism, is also reflected in the study’s findings. However, the report had remained embargoed for a year because of the sensitivity about releasing information regarding terrorism. Ms Salifu, a researcher in the ISS transnational threats and international crime programme, said: “The heightened sensitivity around terrorism in Kenya and the nature of the security situation at the time gave rise to the delay in the report’s release.”  Women’s involvement in violent extremism remains deeply nuanced and defies generalisation, according to the report. Women have reportedly travelled to Somalia to join Al Shabaab, or have been recruiting for the group, masterminding terrorist attacks in Mombasa, forming terror cells, and channelling information and finances for terrorist organisations.

Government officials in Garissa and Diani told researchers, however, that in their experience, perpetrators were often male, and aged between 16 and 25 years and that no women had been convicted on terror-related charges. So far only four women – three Kenyans and a Tanzanian – have been charged in connection with terrorism. Maryam Said Aboud and Khadija Abdulkadir Abubakar from Malindi, Ummul Khayr Sadir Abdalla from Tanzania and Halima Adan Ali of Mombasa were charged with 19 terror charges, including being members of Al-Shabaab and conspiracy to commit terrorism in Kenya. Another five have been charged with aiding terrorists or concealing information about them.

Although none of the respondents for the study conducted in 2016 had first-hand knowledge of women who had carried out acts of terrorism, government officials told researchers that many girls had gone to Somalia, where some had been trained as suicide bombers and that one had been arrested on terror-related charges, while the others had some involvement in attacks. Extremist groupings are increasingly targeting women and children as these might not come under the scrutiny of security agencies as attackers. Secrecy around cultural and religious norms has likely made women fearful of speaking out even when attempts are made to recruit them. Some women are reluctant to speak publicly and prefer to have men speak for them.


The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of AMISOM, and neither does their inclusion in the bulletin/website constitute an endorsement by AMISOM.