Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group’s (SEMG’s) 2018 reports on Somalia and Eritrea, which have recently been made public. While the SEMG’s reporting on Eritrea was very much eclipsed by the (positive) political developments in the region, the Somalia report is the strongest it’s been during my tenure on the SEMG. In particular, we’re very proud of the analysis on Al-Shabaab domestic financing (annexes 2.4 to 2.4.5), which includes financial ledgers captured from the Al-Shabaab head of finance in Hiran region, spanning 2014-2018. The SEMG separately published the raw data from the ledgers (particularly of use to academics), which can be found through the following link: https://1drv.ms/x/s!
Some additional highlights from the reports are below.
Highlights from the Somalia report (S/2018/1002):
- The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has imported 20,000 weapons and 75 million rounds of ammunition since the partial lifting of the arms embargo in 2013, but its compliance with the terms of the lift remains consistently weak;
- Significant diversion of FGS-imported arms to illicit markets in Mogadishu and Baidoa;
- Disruption by Kenyan police of a major VBIED operation targeting Nairobi; the planned attack represented the first known instance where weapons (AK-pattern rifles) imported by the FGS were to be used in an Al-Shabaab attack outside of Somalia;
- Spillover of the Gulf diplomatic crisis into Somalia, including a meeting in Nairobi, observed by the SEMG, where UAE diplomats discussed undermining the FGS, including through bribery;
- Weapons and ammunition documented in Bosaso, Puntland, that trace to consignments supplied to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the United States;
- The uncovering of financial links between prominent Puntland-based arms dealers and a US-designated Al-Qaida facilitator in Yemen;
- Infiltration of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) by Al-Shabaab;
- Export of illicit Somali charcoal fell by 25%, as traffickers struggled to find new ports of call, eventually turning to Iran as a transhipment point.
Highlights from the Eritrea report (S/2018/1003):
- No evidence of Eritrean State support to Al-Shabaab for the fifth consecutive year;
- Continuing expansion of the UAE military base in Assab;
- Peace agreements between Eritrea and major anti-Eritrea armed groups, namely the ONLF, OLF, TPDM, and Patriotic Ginbot Sebat.