The end of transition in Somalia in summer 2012, though fragile and flawed, nevertheless led to the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President and presented an opportunity for a new kind of leadership in the country. However, a genuine end of transition necessitated both a change in individual leadership as well as a change in the system of government that in the past had undermined the Statebuilding enterprise through misappropriation of public goods and security sector fiefdoms. While control over financial flows and security institutions was divided between several principal power holders in the past, the new President inherited a system in which he controlled neither. While struggling to extend his reach into government in Mogadishu as well as into the country generally, he has had to develop coping mechanisms to obtain external funds and arrange security relations inside and outside of Government. These limitations at the centre of the Federal Government, the realignment of networks of influence in and around it and more broadly in Somalia, as well as events in past months, notably in “Jubaland”, threaten to undermine the Federal Government of Somalia and the current peace and reconciliation process in the country.
Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab has suffered conventional military setbacks, particularly in urban centres, including the loss of Kismaayo, as the forces of AMISOM and the Somali National Army expanded their areas of territorial control.
However, Harakaat al-Shabaab al-Mujaahidiin continues to control most of southern and central Somalia and has shifted its strategic posture to asymmetrical warfare in both urban centres and the countryside. The military strength of Al-Shabaab, with an approximately 5,000-strong force, remains arguably intact in terms of operational readiness, chain of command, discipline and communication capabilities. By avoiding direct military confrontation, it has preserved the core of its fighting force and resources. Given its structure, internal dissension has had no impact on Al-Shabaab’s ability to conduct operations. The leadership of Ahmed Godane has been kept largely unchallenged, in part by strengthening the role and resources of Amniyat, Al-Shabaab’s “secret service”, which is structured along the lines of a clandestine organization within the organization with the intention of surviving any kind of dissolution of Al-Shabaab. At present, Al-Shabaab remains the principal threat to peace and security in Somalia.
The merger between Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaida in 2012 appears largely symbolic. Al-Shabaab continues to pose a regional and international threat through its affiliates. Notably, in Kenya, Al Hijra (formerly the Muslim Youth Centre) and its financier, the Pumwani Riyadha Mosque Committee, have suffered setbacks from disruptions of Al Hijra’s operations by international and regional security services, as well as unexplained killings and disappearances of its members. However, Al Hijra is striving to regain the initiative, in part through its fighters in Somalia returning to conduct new and more complex operations and through strengthening its ties to other groups in the region. In this context, the self-styled Al-Qaida affiliate, Abubakar Shariff Ahmed “Makaburi”, designated for targeted measures by the Committee in August 2012, is increasingly asserting his influence over Al Hijra.
More broadly in Somalia, several spoiler networks have emerged. In northern Somalia, with the general decline of pirate activity a network of individuals, including known pirate leaders, is engaged in providing private security for unlicensed fishing vessels in Somali waters and is connected to weapons smuggling and Al-Shabaab networks in north-eastern Somalia. In the east-central region of Galmudug, a “former” Mogadishu warlord, Abdi Hassan Awale “Qeybdiid”, has returned to prominence by appropriating political power and instigating clan conflict, thereby undermining the Federal Government and threatening security in the northern region of “Puntland”. In southern Somalia, two core groups of spoilers are either aligned against or in favour of the Federal Government. Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe” and his Ras Kamboni forces, with Kenyan support, have established their own military presence in Kismaayo in opposition to the central Government, while a group of Hawiye/Habar Gedir/Ayr warlords and their allies in the Darod/Marehan network of Barre Adan Shire “Hiiraale” are acting as proxies for the central Government, but pursing their own individual and clan-based agendas.
Both spoiler groups have interests that intersect with those of Al-Shabaab.
With the decline in the number of pirate incidents, organized criminal networks and individuals are diversifying their financial interests by undertaking different ventures, including providing armed protection aboard vessels involved in regional trade or fishing activities. While piracy may be contained at sea, the various pirate networks remain active. In the persisting absence of serious national and international efforts to investigate, prosecute or sanction those responsible for organizing Somali piracy, the leaders, financiers, negotiators and facilitators will continue to operate with impunity. Of particular concern in this context are the steps taken by the Federal Government towards a policy of amnesty.
Despite the change in leadership in Mogadishu, the misappropriation of public resources continues in line with past practices. The campaign financing structure of the 2012 elections recycled funds derived from external and internal sources to distort the political system. Notably, public financial management efforts to redirect Government revenues to the Central Bank proved to be serving a flawed objective.
On average, some 80 per cent of withdrawals from the Central Bank are made for private purposes and not for the running of Government, representing a patronage system and a set of social relations that defy the institutionalization of the State. In this context, the fiduciary agency managed by PricewaterhouseCoopers was reduced to a transfer agent that could not ensure accountability of funds once they reached the Government of Somalia. Indeed, of 16.9 million transferred by PricewaterhouseCoopers to the Central Bank, US$ 12 million could not be traced.
Key to these irregularities has been the current Governor of the Central Bank,
Abdusalam Omer. In addition, the production of the national passport continues to be fraught with fraud and corruption, undermining the integrity of the national travel document. While more customs and port fee revenues from Mogadishu port have been deposited into the Central Bank, they are proportionally less than the increase in shipping traffic, and a monthly average of at least 33 per cent cannot be accounted for. At present, the emergence of significant oil interests in Somalia and the region risks exacerbating political tensions in Somalia, undermining coordination between federal and regional administrations and threatening peace and security in the country.
Despite the relaxation of the arms embargo for the Federal Government of Somalia, a variety of violations persist. The patterns of arms shipments to Somalia remain similar to those of previous years, with smuggling networks able to exploit a number of small ports around the coast of Somalia and supply routes between the northern and southern parts of the country. In addition, concerns over command and control within AMISOM and Kenyan forces, as well as support to Somali proxies by the Government of Ethiopia outside any exemption, remain unresolved issues.
Generally, there has been an improvement by Member States in complying with procedures of the arms embargo, although the Federal Government has yet to fulfil its obligations under the revised regime. The activities of private security companies continue to grow, at times in violation of the arms embargo.
Despite improved access in certain areas of the country, access to vulnerable civilians remains a challenge for the humanitarian community, and all parties in Somalia continue to obstruct the provision of humanitarian assistance. Al-Shabaab maintained and expanded its ban on most aid agencies in areas under its control, while all actors in Somalia subjected humanitarian organizations to taxation, illegal roadblocks, intimidation and extortion. Moreover, as a consequence of both remote management by aid agencies in Nairobi and the culture of “gatekeepers”, diversion of humanitarian assistance by third parties, as well as by staff and partners of aid organizations, continues to undermine international efforts.
Throughout Somalia, all parties to the conflict continue to violate international humanitarian law and human rights standards. Military operations and guerrilla warfare across the country caused significant harm to civilians. In 2012 in Mogadishu, some 6,680 civilian casualties suffered weapons-related injuries, many of them from improvised explosive devices deployed by Al-Shabaab. Data collected by human rights and humanitarian agencies demonstrate that pro-Government forces have also caused civilian casualties as a result of aerial attacks and naval and ground engagement. Meanwhile, gender-based violence remains an endemic phenomenon.
By November 2012, Kenyan forces, Sheikh Ahmed Madobe and his Ras Kamboni forces had unilaterally begun exporting charcoal from Kismaayo in flagrant violation of the Security Council ban and the instructions of the President of Somalia. Thereafter, approximately 1 million sacks of charcoal have been exported from Kismaayo each month, in addition to exports from Al-Shabaab-controlled Barawe and other smaller ports. Overall, the charcoal exports have increased by 140 per cent in comparison to previous years. The charcoal business architecture and trade networks remain intact, with Al-Shabaab maintaining a central role and continuing to benefit significantly.
As a result of its investigations, particularly those with financial implications for spoilers in Somalia, the Monitoring Group has experienced increasing obstruction of its work, including targeted killings, threats and intimidation of its alleged sources. In addition, as Somalia proceeds on its precarious path to peace and reconciliation, the various spoilers identified by the Monitoring Group threaten to undermine legitimate authority in the country as well as international assistance efforts. To better secure the gains made to date, the Monitoring Group believes that such individuals violating relevant Security Council resolutions should be designated for targeted measures with the least possible delay. To this end, it proposes several new additions to the sanctions lists established in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009).