26 November – Source: Xinhuanet – 153 Words
Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire on Sunday appointed Mohamed Mursal Sheikh as the new minister of defense following the resignation of former defense minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed in October. The new defense minister was the first Somalia ambassador to Turkey since the collapse of Somalia government until 2011 and he was also former minister of water and energy of the Horn of Africa nation.
Former Minister of Defense of Somalia Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed resigned on Oct. 12following the deadly terrorist attack and misunderstanding between him and former chief of Somali National Army. Somali Minister of Information Abdirahman Omar Osman told journalists in Somali capital Mogadishu that Khaire has also sacked Minister of Religious Affairs Iman Abdullahi Ali. The information minister did not explain the reason why the minister of religious affairs was dismissed from the cabinet. Ali is the first minister to be sacked since Khaire formed his cabinet in March.
- Somali PM Appoints New Defense Minister (Xinhuanet)
- President Farmaajo Commission’s First Public Defense Recruits (Goobjoog News)
- Somali PM Fires Religious Affairs Minister Following Internal Rift (Somali Update)
- Kenyan Al-Shabaab Recruits Fleeing US Airstrikes In Somalia – Kanyiri (The Star)
- Washington’s Chicken-and-Egg War In Somalia (Theweek.com)
President Farmaajo Commission’s First Public Defense Recruits
26 November – Source: Goobjoog News – 252 Words
President Mohamed Farmaajo on Saturday commissioned the first batch of 600 police recruits for public defense, in response to the president’s call on the youth to defend their country, following the October 14 terror attack in Mogadishu which killed over 400 people. The president hailed the youth for their commitment to defend their country stating the future of the country lay on the sacrifices the young people are willing to make. “You are the first batch of youth that responded to my call, and stood to sacrifice their lives for their country, to die for their religion, to save their people. You are the future of Somalia. Every country in such a situation is being saved by its young people,” the President said.
President Farmaajo last month called on the youth to defend the country noting it was time the public complemented government’s efforts in fighting extremism. Speaking in the same function, the President thanked religious scholars for their efforts in confronting extremist ideologies in the country adding Islam does not condone killing of innocent people. “We are grateful to our Islamic scholars all they have done on awakening Somali people to defend their religion, because we know these people [Al-Shabab] are not adherents of Islam. It means our Islamic scholars stood up explaining [the true meaning of Islam] to the people.” “Islam does not permit the killing of innocent people. It’s a good, progressive, peaceful, tolerant and civilized religion. What those people are fighting for is not religious cause” he said.
Somali PM Fires Religious Affairs Minister Following Internal Rift
26 November – Source: Somali Update – 333 Words
Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire on Sunday fired Religious Affairs Minister, Iiman Abdullahi Ali, amid growing rift between the premier and his cabinet members. In a Somali language statement, Prime Minister Khaire said, the Religious Minister was relieved of his duty for undisclosed reasons. In the released statement, Mr. Abdihakim Hassan Ibrahim, who previously held state minister portfolio is appointed as the acting Religious Minister. Three minister resigned their positions ever since the government of Prime Minister Khaire came to power in April of this year.
The sacked minister hails from South West Somalia regions where Prime Minister Khaire visited last week, an indication that the Prime Minister sought South West leader, President Sharif Hassan’s views on firing the minister. The sacking of the country’s Religious Minister comes two weeks after the resignation of the Humanitarian and Disaster Management Minister Dr. Maryan Qassim Ahmed. According to sources privy to the decision of the sacked minister, there were growing differences between Minister Ali and Prime Minister Khaire, particularly on a recently appointed committee within the Prime Minister’s Office, which is tasked to oversee the operations of specific ministries, a move opposed by many of the ministers. “Many of the cabinet ministers are now like defectors, because they are not collaborating with the Prime Minister’s Office” said one source within the cabinet, who asked anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.
In her resignation news conference in Mogadishu on November 15, Mrs. Ahmed clearly cited “confusion and disorder within the government” led by Prime Minister Khaire. On October 12, the Defense Minister, Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed resigned from the government for personal matters, despite sources said he left due to lack of consultations over matters related to his ministry. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khaire on Sunday appointed Mr. Mohamed Mursal as the new defense Minister. Mursal, who served as lawmaker has held ministerial position in previous governments. He also becomes the first Somali ambassador to Turkey after the collapse of Somalia’s central government in 1991.
25 November – Source: The Star – 378 Words
Kenyan recruits have fled Somalia following sustained US airstrikes against al Shabaab terrorists, military sources confirmed on Friday. The recruits have been accused of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency and others targeting the militants’ camps in Somalia. Joseph Kanyiri, director of the Boni Enclave Campaign, said some of those running away are part of the Jaysh Ayman elite squad, made up of many Kenyans. Kanyiri noted a multi-agency team has scaled up security along the border with Somalia to deal with armed fighters.
On Tuesday, more than 100 militants were killed on a camp 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu. “We are aware the condition in Somalia is not conducive for them and that they have decided to flee to the country. We urge them to surrender to authorities,” he told The Star on Friday. Somalia’s government said on Wednesday it had requested the airstrike which killed suspected militants to help pave the way for an upcoming ground offensive against al Shabaab. “Those militants were preparing explosives and attacks. Operations against al Shabaab have been stepped up,” Abdirahman Omar Oman, the Somali minister, told Reuters. “We have asked the US to help us from the air to make our readied ground offensive more successful.”
Kanyiri said operations to flush al Shabaab out of Boni Forest have also affected their operations in Somalia as much destruction has taken place. He said the operations that include airstrikes and cordons to trap the terrorists have seen security agents achieve 80 per cent of their security target. More than 300 members of the al Qaeda-linked group have operated from the forest since 2012. They retreat to it after attacking civilians and police officers. Sources in the military further say intelligence agencies have managed to infiltrate the al Shabaab network and have averted most of their attacks. They are also assisting the United States with its operations.
In March 2016, more than 150 fighters were killed in airstrikes by the US. But the terror group has retaliated. In January 2016, it executed three Kenyans accused of spying for the CIA and other agencies in Somalia. Early this year, Kenyans Yusuf Hassan and Ahmed Nur were executed by al Shabaab’s firing squad in Buq Aqable, Hiran region. The fate of others remains unknown.
OPINION, ANALYSIS AND CULTURE
“We are at war in Somalia because we are at war in Somalia; American foreign policy is both the chicken and the egg. It is worth noting that not a single Somali-born terrorist has committed a lethal terrorist attack on American soil in more than four decades, and that, at any given moment, the Pentagon has about 100 missions active in 20 African countries — missions so little mentioned by Washington that it is difficult to verify basic details like which nations are involved and how many U.S. boots are on the ground.”
26 November – Source: The Week – 1002 Words
Somalia is, for most Americans, known only as the location of the disastrous 1993 Battle of Mogadishu depicted in 2002’s Black Hawk Down. But the east African country has also become the site of Washington’s latest escalation of the amorphous war on terror. U.S. airstrikes and boots on the ground have dramatically increased in 2017. This is happening without any public debate, congressional authorization, or the most basic argument from the White House as to how, exactly, this military intervention is obligatory. To all appearances, it is a new theater of war without end or focus, undertaken without due consideration of necessity, unintended consequences, or realistic prospects of conclusion.
As the U.S. is currently fighting at least seven foreign wars, depending on how you count them, a review of the facts may be in order here. Somalia is about half the size of Texas but rather more sparsely populated. It boasts probable untapped oil reserves and the longest coastline on the African continent, a coast strategically valuable for its proximity to Gulf states like Saudi Arabia. The nation’s post-colonial history has been marked by a military dictatorship fostered, as military historian Ret. Col. Andrew Bacevich notes, by Cold War-era “Soviet-American competition for Somali affections.” That contest solidified in the form of both superpowers funneling weapons into the fragile state to satisfy the autocrat’s lust for firepower. When the dictatorship finally broke down at the Cold War’s end, a United Nations coalition intervened in the ensuing internal conflict. That U.S.-led intervention under the Clinton administration reached its tragic climax in the Battle of Mogadishu.
The aftermath of the battle and the public uproar it produced led to drawdowns of American military presence in Somalia, but in retrospect, that change turned out to be more pause than reset. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) began bombing Somalia in 2007, and independent observers have recorded U.S. strikes on the country in all but two years since. The last three years have seen a marked increase in reported strikes as local militants began to declare allegiance to the Islamic State. Where from 2007 to 2014 the busiest year had just three bombings, 2015 through 2017 all have seen double digits, peaking at 26 this year to date. That means more than one-third of the United States’ entire post-9/11 bombing campaign (62 confirmed strikes) in Somalia happened in 2017. Even if we limit our count to strikes AFRICOM has announced (18 in 2017), we see the same dramatic upward trend on a slightly smaller scale. And then there are the ground troops.
As Politico documented, the “number of U.S. military forces in Somalia has more than doubled this year to over 500 people” — there were just 50 Americans there as recently as early April — “as the Pentagon has quietly posted hundreds of additional special operations personnel to advise local forces in pockets of Islamic militants around the country.” The nature of the intervention is reportedly changing, too, with a degree of mission creep setting in as “advise and assist” transforms into battlefield engagement. These 500 troops are the largest U.S. presence in Somalia since the events of Black Hawk Down. While the Pentagon denied to Politico that this tenfold increase could be called a “build-up,” it is difficult to see how it could be labeled otherwise.
It is even more difficult to see how this escalation is justified, what concrete benefit it will yield for U.S. security, how much it might cost, or when it will ever end. President Trump in March designated Somalia a new “area of active hostility,” an Obama-era label which The Guardian reported gives military commanders looser rules about civilian casualties and “the same latitude to launch strikes, raids and campaigns … that they possess in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.” The effect is to further formalize executive usurpation of congressional war powers, permitting first Obama and now Trump to quietly wage war — because yes, air strikes are war — in Somalia without a shred of the formidable public scrutiny to which any such military action ought to be subject before it begins.