Somalia, officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the
Somali Democratic Republic, is located on the east coast of Africa
between the Gulf of ‘Aden on the north and the Indian Ocean on the
east and has the longest coastline in Africa. Together with Ethiopia,
Eritrea, and Djibouti it is often referred to as the Horn of Africa
because of its resemblance on the map to a rhinoceros’s horn. It is
bordered by Djibouti on the northwest, Kenya on its southwest, the
Gulf of ‘Aden with Yemen on its north, the Indian Ocean on its East
and Ethiopia on the west.
The current situation
The Somali people have suffered from prolonged oppression and violence
at the hands of their fellow Somalis. They have lived in difficult and
harsh conditions under both democratic and military regimes. During
the democratic era (1960-1969), independence and newly established
state institutions failed to meet people’s expectations. Poverty
increased and security deteriorated. Moreover, corruption, nepotism
and cronyism characterized state institutions.
During the last decade or so, but especially during the last year and
a half, Somalia has become one of the main battlefields in the US
global “war on terror”, together with Afghanistan and Iraq. The
situation has been further complicated by a chaotic situation
prevailing in the country, caused by sixteen long and devastating
years of civil war between various Somali clans and sub clans, while
the rival regional powers – Ethiopia and Eritrea – have tended to take
different sides and aid rival clans and sub-clans fighting against
each Other. Thus, the Somali civil war has developed into a regional
and global conflict, which involves many other players, other than
those mentioned above, including: al-Qa’ida, Yemen, Sudan, Egypt,
IGAD, the African Union, the Arab League, and the UN.
Throughout its history, Somalia has witnessed a lot of local conflicts
between rival clans and sub-clans as well as some major regional
conflicts with Ethiopia. The common characteristic of all those major
conflicts has been its development into regional conflicts between
Ethiopia and the Arab world, while some of them have even developed
into religious and global conflicts between Christians and Muslims.
Yet, this current Somali conflict is different from all past Somali
conflicts in the numbers of regional, continental, and global players
involved; the unprecedented active involvement of foreign players in
Somali local affairs; and the immediate local, regional, and global
circumstances at hand as well as the most important role radical Islam
has played in the conflict.
Big Events in 2014
2014 March – UN envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay says a campaign by AU
and Somali troops against al-Shabab strongholds is having success.
2014 May – Al-Shabab says it carried out a bomb attack on a restaurant
in Djibouti, saying the country is used as a launch pad to strike
2014 June – US and EU officials meet President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
to discuss the deteriorating political situation in Somalia. They meet
on a warship off Mogadishu for security reasons.
2014 July- August Al-Shabab claims two attacks on the Kenyan coast
which kill more than 60, saying operations against Kenya would
2014 September – Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane killed in US drone
strike. Government offers 2 million dollar bounty for his successor,
2014 October – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visits, says Somalia
is facing famine.
2014 November – Government launches country’s first postal service in
more than two decades. Mogadishu’s first ever cash withdrawal machine
installed in a hotel.
2014 November-December – Al Shabab carry out mass murders in the
north-east Kenya, including on a bus and a camp of quarry workers.
2014 December-The U.S. military said that an airstrike had targeted a
senior Al-shabaab militant leader.
In Sept. 2014
The first known US attack in Somalia for more than seven months killed
the group’s leader, Ahmed Godane (aka Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr or Ahmed Abdi
US drones and conventional air craft, flown by Special Forces
operatives from JSOC, targeted an encampment and vehicles in the Lower
Shabelle region of Somalia. At least six people were reportedly killed
in the attack. The day after the attack, al Shabaab spokesman Abu
Mohamed confirmed Godane, right, was in the convoy when the attack
hit. And a US official told Reuters: “We don’t know that he’s dead.
But he was the target.”
Godane’s death was eventually confirmed on September 5. He was the
specific target, according to a Pentagon spokesman though the attack
reportedly killed a group of senior al Shabaab figures. Al Shabaab
named a successor two days after the US government confirmed Godane
was dead. Ahmed Omar was elected unanimously, according to a video
message sent to al Jazeera. The Somali government subsequently put a
$3m reward out for Ahmed Omar.
Godane was in overall command of the attack on the Westgate shopping
mall in Nairobi, in 2013. The president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta
thanked the US for killing Godane: “We owe the United States and its
soldiers our heartfelt thanks for bringing an end to Godane’s career
of death and destruction and finally allowing us to begin our healing
In Dec. 2014
The U.S. military said that an airstrike had targeted a senior leader
of the al Shabaab militant group. Somalia’s National Intelligence and
Security Agency later identified the target as Al-shabaab chief of
inelegancy, known as Abdishakur, though the U.S. did not immediately
offer official confirmation of his death. An anonymous U.S. official
later told Reuters that Abdishakur and one other militant had died.
The previous week a senior al Shabaab figure also described as the
group’s head of intelligence gave him up to Somali authorities. The
US had reportedly offered a $3m reward for information leading to his
capture. As U.S. defense official told CNN that Monday’s strike was
carried out by a drone strike.
By: Hassan Mudane
Researcher and Political Commentator