Piracy, Drought, and Security Shakeups in Somalia

SOMALI PIRATES SEIZE FOURTH VESSEL SINCE MID-MARCH. On 3 April, pirates hijacked the Salama 1 near the Socotra Island and it was later moved to Ceel Huur. Last month, a Reuters report found local frustration in Puntland region over licensing with foreign fishermen and the availability of cheap weapons as reasons for the recent surge in attacks.

Other vessels recently seized off Somalia’s coast include:

13 March: MT ARIS 13 (released “without ransom“)

24 March: MV Casayr

3 AprilMSV Al Khausar

Undeterred by foreign influence, Puntland signed a Bosaso port development agreement reportedly worth $336 million deal with the UAE, which also manages and plans to develop a military base at Berbera port in neighboring Somaliland.

UAE is set to control the two of the four most important Somali ports, which also include Mogadishu and Kismayo.

AL-SHABAAB: DROUGHT AID OR OBSTACLE?  While pro-Shabaab sites have promoted the group’s efforts to provide drought aid, the militants intentionally disrupted humanitarian efforts this week by kidnapping Somali aid workers conducting vaccination efforts in Gedo, as well as abducting veterinary workers in Hiiraan region.

Al-Shabaab continues to keep Somalis from accessing vital aid, even as the most recent humanitarian report from OCHA described the situation in stark terms:

🇸🇴 ~536,000 displaced due to drought since Nov 2016

🇸🇴 ~70,000 displaced arrived in Baidoa in March

🇸🇴 ~72,000 displaced arrived in Mogadishu in March




EXPLAINER: TRUMP’S DRONE WAR IN SOMALIA. Former senior State Department official Sarah Sewall explains how Trump changed the policy guidance for the use of force in Somalia and why it increases risks for civilians.

AL-SHABAAB TAKE OVER CEELBUUR FROM ETHIOPIAN TROOPS. Photos pubished this week show Ceelbuur as an abandoned town, just like it had been during the time in which the Ethiopians were in control. Communities withdrew in part because many of them historically had a better relationship with al-Shabaab than Ethiopia-allied Somali militias.

The Ethiopians also had abandoned the town of Dhusamareeb, but Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) fighters have kept control of the area despite the absence of foreign troops.

ASWJ has shown it is often more capable than other Somali militias that cannot hold ground independently, even though the group is not immune to its own abuses of power. Still, it has remained on the outside of mainstream Somali political processes due to disagreements with the Galmudug administration and Somali government over how much political representation it should receive, as well as unfulfilled promises of security assistance.

Meanwhile, Somalia’s president replaced key security leaders in Mogadishu (with several old and familiar faces) and offered al-Shabaab members 60 days to surrender during a press conference in which he donned military fatigues.

But the lack of any significant security victories since he took office — combined with the string of successful attacks that al-Shabaab has launched in the same period —  probably limit the attractiveness of the offer.

Categories: Around the Horn

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