What’s Next for Somalia?

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The war-torn country still struggles to achieve stability within its borders. Somalia has faced numerous problems that require national unity and international support for a solution. Terrorist attacks from al-Shabab and the ISIS, drought and famine crises and maritime piracy are vital issues need elucidation in parallel with the reconstruction of the state institutions and development of infrastructure.

Against problems mentioned above, Somalia has undertaken several steps that may speed up the restoration of state and reconciliation within the society. Elections were conducted; and as a result, a new president, prime minister and parliament took office to solve the enduring issues and attain stability.

In spite of Somalian military forces and the international alliance succeeding in pushing al-Shabab out of the capital, the terrorist organisation still conducts attacks in the capital from time to time. A-Shabab was evicted from the capital in 2011. However, this development did not impede it from controlling parts of the countryside and launching suicide attacks. In another word, al-Shabab has been powerful in different regions of the country and gets support from various clans. Henceforth Somalia gives priority in its battle against al-Shabab, not only for eliminating attacks and reconstructing the institutions but also for preventing al-Shabab from recruiting new members and spreading its ideology. Al-Shabab has opposed the government and the system, and during the elections, it attacked the delegates. The election system is also important for the future of the country. According to the current regime, clans choose certain people as representatives for the elections. Regarding the 2016-17 elections, the number of delegates was 14.000. But this system ought to change in  2020, and 2021 elections will be conducted based on universal suffrage.

The new administration is following similar paths of previous administrations to eradicate the al-Shabab. The most important tools are; declaring amnesty, deradicalization programs and conducting military operations. For instance, in April, an amnesty of 60 days for al-Shabab members was announced by the administration. According to government circles, around 50 members surrendered. Also, there are some reports which reveal that Mogadishu is leaning towards carrying negotiations with the leadership of al-Shabab.

International support is also required to find solutions for various problems of Somalia. The latest step came from London in May 2017, where an international gathering discussed solutions and challenges, and the new Somali administration found an opportunity to represent itself and reclaim its authority. According to the new president and at the same time former Prime Minister Abdullahi Mohammed Farmajo; Somalia’s enemies were terror, corruption and poverty. At the end of the conference, international actors and Somalia decided upon improving and speeding up the process of establishing security and increasing development. The meeting was chaired by President Farmajo, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Apart from financial and development support, foreign military support is provided to help Somalia in its fight against terrorist organisations and educating security forces. Currently, 22.000 troops from the African Union and US Africa Command undertake missions. In May, the Trump administration took several steps to facilitate military operations in the country. As a result, the US can now deploy more troops in Somalia. On the other hand, the already deployed American forces have supported and trained the Somali soldiers.  In fact, during the last operations, a US soldier was killed. Since 1993’s incident it was the first time that a US soldier was killed in Somalia. The last major deployment of US forces took place in 1993 when 18 American soldiers were killed during the fight against the warlords and their militia clans in the capital Mogadishu.

Despite international support, the Somali National Army has to be educated and reconstructed as soon as possible because in 2020 the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate will expire and the forces will have to leave the country. The task of controlling and securing the capital was transferred from AMISOM troops to Somali forces. Henceforth, the administration is under the test whether it can secure the capital or not.

In conclusion, the next phase in Somalia’s history will be as difficult as the previous ones. Detrimental or not, foreign support has been useful in overcoming some problems or some parts of particular challenges. The heightened US military presence in the country may further radicalise Somalia’s youth or may speed up the process of defeating and eliminating of al-Shabab. However, it is predicted that Mogadishu will try to find solutions through implementing various devices like de-radicalization and disarmament programs. During this process, international actors will continue to support the country not only with the sole aim of helping Somalia but also for eliminating threats emanating from instability and political crisis in Somalia. For instance, Washington revoked a $ 5 million bounty on a founder al-Shabab member; Mukhtar Robow, to further proceed the negotiations of the Somali government with the organisation. Moreover, another contributing factor of Washington’s presence in Somalia is that al-Shabab can radicalise youths and further recruit fighters in the US.

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