March 16, 2017 | Morning Headlines

Main Story

Somali PM Commends AU For Its Commitment To Support Somalia

15 March – Source: Goobjoog News – 119 Words

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire on Wednesday commended African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for the support and commitment to the betterment of Somalia. Prime Minister Khaire assured that the new government will work closely with the AU mission. AMISOM senior leadership led by AU envoy to Somalia, Francisco Madeira on Tuesday paid a courtesy call on Khaire at Villa Somalia and expressed readiness to work with the Prime Minister and the new government.

PM Khaire noted that his government will use the goodwill it is enjoying from Somalis to make changes that will improve conditions of the people. The Prime Minister thanked Madeira and his delegation, which included AMISOM Force Commander and Police Commissioner, for the visit.

Key Headlines

  • Somali PM Commends AU For Its Commitment To Support Somalia (Goobjoog News)
  • Al-Shabaab Militants Cut Off Hands And Legs Of Two Men (Garowe Online)
  • Britain Calls For More Support To Drought-hit Somalia (Xinhua)
  • Families Plead For Somali Pirates To Release Ship’s Crew (Associated Press)
  • Uhuru: KDF Will Remain In Somalia For Peace And Stability In Kenya (Capital FM)
  • Jubbaland MPs Laud AMISOM For Nairobi Training Vow To Use Skills Acquired To Improve Their Work (AMISOM)
  • Can Somalia’s New President Negotiate With Al-Shabaab? (Religion & Geopolitics)


Al-Shabaab Militants Cut Off Hands And Legs Of Two Men

15 March – Source: Garowe Online – 225 Words

Al-Shabaab militants have chopped off the left leg and right hand of two young men accused of stealing money in Southern Lower Shabelle region. The two young men identified as Abdi Ali Mohamed, 25, and Mohamed Hassan Omar, 20, were amputated in the militant-held Darulsalam village. Large crowds of people witnessed the harsh punishment. Mohamed had his left leg cut off for allegedly stealing from a shop; his right hand was amputated in previous alleged theft, while Omar accused of stealing an ox had his right hand amputated.

Al-Shabaab militants brutally punished the men convicted of theft upon an order issued by a militant judge who said the two men were found guilty of theft. In areas under its control, Al Shabaab has carried out executions, floggings and amputations.

Meanwhile, the group has briefly taken control of El Wak district in Gedo region, following clashes with Somali government forces, the latest in series of attack on the border town over the past few months. According to the residents, the Al-Shabaab militants stormed an office for a local relief NGO in El Wak town, and confiscated computers and documents belonging to the humanitarian agency. The local NGO officials were unavailable for comments on the attack of their office in El Wak by Al Shabaab, but villagers said the militants left the town following the brief control.


Britain Calls For More Support To Drought-hit Somalia

16 March – Source: Xinhua – 237 Words

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday called on the international community to ramp up support for the drought intervention measures in Somalia, noting the situation was worsening. Speaking to journalists after meeting Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Johnson said his country was stepping up support to Somalia and hoped other countries could follow suit as Somalia risks plunging into full-scale famine. A massive increase in humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to avert a famine, with humanitarian agencies estimating that 6.2 million drought-affected Somalis are in need of assistance, including food, water and sanitation, health and nutrition, protection and shelter.

The foreign secretary said emergency and sustained efforts could cut off the risk of famine in Somalia and avoid a possible 2011 scenario. Over 250,000 people perished during the 2011 famine in Somalia. “We feel that this time it’s better than 2011; we feel that this time the response from Somalia is faster. So we are hopeful that there won’t be many people who will suffer and the appalling malnutrition we saw the last time,” said Johnson.

Aid agencies and the UN have warned Somalia could fall into famine and the UN Secretary-General Antonnio Guteres re-affirmed that statement last week here, noting the window of opportunity was fast closing. The UN chief said more deaths could be seen as a result of cholera outbreak that is easily transmitted given the water shortages and drought-related vulnerabilities.

Families Plead For Somali Pirates To Release Ship’s Crew

15 March – Source: Associated Press – 447 Words

Families of the eight Sri Lankan crew members held captive by Somali pirates on an oil tanker tearfully pleaded Wednesday for the men to be released unharmed, while the pirates demanded a ransom. The hijacking on Monday was the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel off Somalia since 2012. It came as a surprise to the global shipping industry as international patrols had suppressed pirate hijackings for several years. The European Union anti-piracy operation in the region announced late Tuesday that the armed men were holding the crew captive and demanding a ransom for the ship’s release.

Namali Makalandawa, the sister of the oil tanker’s chief officer Premnath Ruwan Sampath, said families had tried to contact the shipping company’s office in Dubai but their calls were not answered. “Some fear is developing in our hearts. We fear for the lives of our loved ones,” a tearful Makalandawa said after meeting with Sri Lankan foreign ministry officials. She said officials and families were meeting with the shipping agent on Thursday.

Families have no way of communicating with the captive crew, Makalandawa said. “Please release them. I appeal to you because these crew members include fathers, sons and husbands. The have gone to sea to earn money to sustain their families,” she said. The EU statement said the naval operation on Tuesday afternoon finally made contact with the ship’s master, who confirmed that armed men were aboard the Comoros-flagged tanker Aris 13. A Somali pirate who said he was in touch with the armed men aboard the tanker said they have locked most of the crew in one room and cut off communication lines.

Uhuru: KDF Will Remain In Somalia For Peace And Stability In Kenya

15 March – Source: Capital FM – 548 Words

The Kenya Defence Forces operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia will not be recalled back to the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said. While making his 4th State of the Nation address Wednesday, the Head of the State pointed out that peace has considerably been enhanced in the country and stability improved in Somalia, due to the continued peace operation in the war-torn neighbouring country.

“In 2011, we made a historic decision. We sent our men and women across the border in pursuit of an enemy dedicated to the destruction of our region and our motherland. Since then, and in collaboration with regional, as well the international allies, we moved the enemy out the territory, resources, and control of the people. Still, the threat remains and therefore we will continue our mission in Somalia,” President Kenyatta said. The President, who asked Members of Parliament to observe a moment of silence for fallen Kenyans soldiers, said Al Shabaab has largely been incapacitated and stand no chance of launching any major attack in the country and the region.

He said: “If we fight the enemy in Somalia, we won’t have to fight them, here at home.” KDF efforts in Somalia, together with that of other African missions, the terrorists had been weakened. “In defence of our motherland and in fulfilling our international obligations to pursue peace and security, we have in the process lost some of our gallant officers,” he pointed out. “This loss reminds us every day of the threat that is upon us. I stand here today to say that these gallant sons and daughters of our land has not fallen in vain. Their sacrifice for our freedom and our motherland strengthens our resolve. We remain unbowed; Kenya shall prevail, and our democracy will endure.”

Jubbaland MPs Laud AMISOM For Nairobi Training, Vow To Use Skills Acquired To Improve Their Work

15 March – Source: AMISOM – 555 Words

Members of Jubbaland regional assembly are exuding confidence and readiness to execute their duties diligently, after a one-week intensive capacity-building workshop, held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Speaking at the close of the training, thirty members of the thirteen departmental committees said they had gained immense experience in the training sessions and were ready to take home the learnings, to improve their oversight and legislative capacities. The Somali members who spent a full day at the Nairobi County Assembly said they were excited at the conduct and seriousness of the Kenyan members during a heated plenary session.

“We gained a lot especially on the roles of Parliamentarians in regard to women and human rights, oversight and resolution of conflicts,” said Fatuma Farah, the chairperson of the Human Rights Committee who is also the MP for Garbaharey District. “I appreciate AMISOM for the great work (in organizing the workshop), especially by the facilitators,” she added. The said she had learnt a lot during the proceedings at Nairobi County Assembly. “We were taught a lot of lessons (at the Nairobi Assembly). The lessons have made us be like any parliament in the world.”

Ahmed Hassan Abdi, theAfmadow District MP who is the chairperson of Social Services, said the training was a good opportunity for the members of Jubbaland regional assembly, to acquire knowledge that would help them work more effectively back home. He thanked AMISOM for organizing the training and hoped that the gesture was the beginning of further cooperation between the Mission and his assembly. “I hope this is the beginning of relations aimed at building our capacity,” he stated. The workshop which ended yesterday, was supported by the Danish Government through its funding towards AMISOM’s Stabilization and Early Recovery Programme. It was part of AMISOM’s drive to enhance the capacity for various Somali stakeholders to reconcile and bring peace to their country.


“Engaging with al-Shabaab would be an extremely complex and controversial process. It would require a great deal of commitment and collaboration with various stakeholders, including federal member states and for international partners to have their buy-in. The negotiation itself can be viewed as part of the broader strategy to winning war on against terrorist.”

Can Somalia’s New President Negotiate With Al-Shabaab?

15 March – Source: Religion & Geopolitics – 1,300 Words

The recent election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, a Somali-American technocrat who previously served as the country’s prime minister, has raised Somali expectations of putting an end to the menace of jihadi group al-Shabaab. From his 2010 tenure as prime minister, people remember Farmaajo as a man of integrity who cracked down on corrupt politicians and revived public morale, albeit briefly (his tenure was less than a year). During his presidential campaign, the Somali police referred to him as the ‘salary-payer’ candidate, a show of confidence in his leadership. It is steps such as these – honoring police salaries, inspiring radicalised youths to disarm, speaking out against endemic corruption through naming and shaming and, more broadly, fostering good governance practices – that many are pointing to as the key to defeating the al-Qaeda affiliate, which has long ravaged and destabilised the country.

As he assumes office, the president inherits a wide array of challenges that include weak security institutions, an underpaid and undertrained army, and reemergence of the ever-more potent al-Shabaab.  Increased terror attacks flourished under his predecessor’s watch. The country’s own survival is heavily dependent on troops contributed by the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). This month, AMISOM celebrates its 10-year anniversary of deployment. Although the mission has made considerable progress in stabilising the country, forcing al-Shabaab out of major cities and disrupting the group’s safe havens and supply chains, it has failed to create an atmosphere in which Somali troops can take the lead and pave the way for an exit strategy. But the continued military operation and its ever-expanding mission have raised questions of its sustainability. Last week, the head of AMISOM, Ambassador Madeira, was quoted as saying, “It’s time we made it known that AMSIOM is not going to stay forever.”

Since 2007, al-Shabaab has reportedly carried out more than 360 attacks, with unprecedented casualties both in terms of human loss and destruction of private and public institutions. Also, and in less than a decade, the al-Qaeda affiliate has evolved from a ragtag militia fighting 2006 Ethiopia’s occupation to a lethal, organised, semi-guerilla army. Today, al-Shabaab, which affiliated with al-Qaeda in 2012, does not occupy a large swath of territory, and perhaps it is not interested in holding one. It is very useful for the group that, while on the run and in hideouts, it can stage asymmetrical attacks inflicting mass casualties. An adaptive and agile organisation, it has changed its tactical operations and reverted to staging complex attacks on public places, government institutions, coffee shops, and public markets without engaging in a direct confrontation with troops.

Although al-Shabaab is not close to defeat, the group is on the back foot and retreated into society. Its internal cohesion has been decapitated by American drones, which have killed many of its key figureheads, such as Ahmed Godane. Not only has the death of the likes of Godane left al-Shabaab with gaping holes, this has created internal discord among the top echelon and regional commanders as to future of the organisation. Some of the hardcore hardliner factions have formally paid allegiance to ISIS, and that has further deepened the internal rift. The second major al-Shabaab camp, currently led by Godane’s successor, Ahmed Omar, wants to scale up the asymmetric and insurgent warfare, since it defines the group’s existence – and sees the only path for it to remain relevant – in the counter-insurgency context.


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