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NEW YORK (HAN) Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. After a prolonged and problematic electoral process, a new president of the Federal Government of Somalia, Abdullahi Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmaajo”, was selected by Members of Parliament in Mogadishu on 8 February 2017. A new Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, and cabinet were appointed by late March.

Throughout its first six months in office, the administration has faced multiple challenges.
Relations between the Federal Government and the country’s regional
administrations have been strained by the Government’s apparent backtracking on
commitments to devolve power to the regions under a new national security
architecture and by a continuing lack of consensus regarding aspects of resource

Meanwhile, regional administrations have continued negotiating
unilaterally with foreign entities regarding ports, military installations and natural
resources.These strains were exacerbated by growing tensions among members of the
Gulf Cooperation Council. As various Member States in the region were compelled
to take sides in the Gulf crisis of June 2017, the Farmaajo administration has found
itself increasingly isolated by its decision to remain neutral. Regional
administrations, numerous Members of Parliament and parts of the influential
Mogadishu business community have openly opposed this stance.
Meanwhile, the militant group Harakaat al-Shabaab al-Mujaahidiin
(Al-Shabaab) continues to pose the most immediate threat to peace and security in

Over the course of the mandate, little if any progress has been made to
mitigate that threat. Al-Shabaab maintains control over a large proportion of rural
territory, and remains in control of certain urban centres in southern and central
Somalia. On 2 January 2017, in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab detonated what was likely
the largest improvised explosive device in the group’s history. Laboratory analysis of
the blast revealed traces of potassium nitrate, suggesting that Al-Shabaab may have
begun to manufacture home-made explosives.

Al-Shabaab’s presence in Puntland, in north-east Somalia, has expanded,
exacerbating the challenges faced by authorities in the region. Concurrently, the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) faction, largely confined to Bari region in
north-east Puntland, has grown in numbers and is attracting an increasingly broad
range of recruits. The ISIL faction briefly took control of the town of Qandala, on the
north coast of Puntland, and carried out its first suicide attack, in Bosaso. While its
capacity has remained limited, an influx of foreign fighters fleeing military pressure
in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and elsewhere could present a significant threat to
the region.
The Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea remains concerned by the
continuing flow of illicit weapons into Somalia, particularly by way of the north
coast of Puntland. Limited access inhibits the Group’s ability to verify the frequency
and volume of deliveries, but evidence collected suggests a rate of approximately
one shipment of weapons a month into Puntland alone, arriving predominantly from
Meanwhile, the Federal Government called repeatedly for the complete lifting
of the arms embargo despite its inability to fully comply with its current obligations
under the partial lift. There have been multiple non-notified or partially notified
consignments of weapons supplied to both the Federal Government and the regional
administrations over the past two years. Despite modest improvements, flaws in
weapons and ammunition management on the part of the Federal Government
remain, particularly with respect to the distribution and tracking of materiel. Given
the vulnerability of the system to diversion, and the threat this poses to peace and
security, particularly amid ongoing tensions between the centre and periphery, the
Monitoring Group recommends no further easing of the arms embargo.
Despite limited improvements in public financial management, federal
institutions remain incapable of addressing pervasive corruption. Mechanisms
established to review Government contracts have continued to be circumvented, and
the lack of transparency regarding company ownership leaves all Government
contracts open to concerns of nepotism. Government ministries continue to bypass
the Treasury Single Account at the Central Bank of Somalia, avoiding oversight of
their revenues by the Federal Government’s fiscal authorities. The misappropriation
and misuse of public land in Mogadishu is ongoing, despite pledges from the
previous administration to address the problem. The printing of counterfeit Somali
currency in Puntland continues to undermine economic stability and has prompted
outbreaks of civil unrest.
Al-Shabaab was responsible for the greatest number of civilian causalities
during the mandate, as a result of large-scale attacks on civilian targets and the
imposition of violent punishments on individuals and communities. Intercommunal
conflict, often exacerbated by the involvement of national and regional forces and
Al-Shabaab, caused significant civilian harm. Long-running tensions in Galkayo and
Lower Shabelle escalated into open armed conflict, resulting in the displacement of
more than 180,000 civilians. In June, Al-Shabaab also began an aggressive campaign
of child recruitment, forcing hundreds of children into the group’s madrasa system.
Following the declaration of a pre-famine alert in February, Al-Shabaab’s
continued ban on humanitarian operations and violent blockades of Government-held
areas resulted in the displacement of more than 800,000 civilians. As the drought
response scaled up, extortion at illegal checkpoints on major supply routes, often
manned by national and/or regional administration forces, added to the overall costs
of aid delivery. Local humanitarian workers also faced increased danger of abduction
and the destruction and looting of supplies by Al-Shabaab. Efforts by both
international humanitarian partners and Somali community organizations prevented
Somalia from slipping into another famine.
Finally, the overall magnitude of illicit exports of charcoal from southern
Somalia remains similar to previous levels. In contrast to much of 2015 and 2016,
when Al-Shabaab intermittently banned the charcoal trade in areas under its control,
the group has resumed systematic taxation of charcoal at checkpoints between
stockpiles and the ports at Buur Gaabo and Kismayo. A conservative estimate suggests
that Al-Shabaab receives at least $10 million each year from the illicit charcoal trade.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, continues to be the primary export destination as well as
a hub for criminal networks that violate the charcoal ban with near impunity. With the
notable exception of Kuwait, implementation of the charcoal ban has been poor,
particularly by the Interim Jubba Administration and the African Union Mission in
Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates among importing countries. A lack of
commitment with regard to the consistent implementation of sanctions, and in some
cases a conspicuously deliberate failure to comply with the charcoal ban, facilitates
Al-Shabaab financing and undermines counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia.



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