The Rendon Group Snapshot Report: 15 May 2017

by TRG Alerts Admin on May 22, 2017

The Rendon Group

(15MAY17)

Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and United Nations Secretary General António Manuel chair the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London, 11 May, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and United Nations Secretary General António Manuel chair the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London, 11 May, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Facing famine and insurgency, Somalia reaches out to international community

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres chair the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London, 11 May 2017. (Reuters/Hannah McKay)

At a London conference this week, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed met with foreign dignitaries including US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and pleaded with the world leaders to help him fight the terror, corruption, and poverty “raging” in his country. On 11MAY, Somalia’s government and foreign backers signed a security pact, which they presented as a road map toward building a functional Somali national army capable of taking on the fight against al-Shabaab militants. The insurgent group continues to inflict heavy damages in the region: the last week saw at least six separate al Shabaab attacks that killed nine Somali civilians, 22 Somali security forces, two Kenyan civilians, and injured six Kenyan security officers. Until now, an African Union force has been doing most of the fighting against the insurgents, but the AU wants to start withdrawing from Somalia in 2018. The Somali President expressed concern about the national security force’s ability to counter al-Shabaab after AU forces withdraw, and he requested that world leaders end the arms embargo on his country. He noted that Somali government forces are currently only equipped with the same light weapons as the insurgents, and he hopes that heavier weaponry would enable them to defeat al-Shabaab. World leaders expressed reluctance at lifting the embargo, but responded positively to the president’s call for help fighting poverty. It is estimated that as much as one-half of Somalia’s population is in need of assistance, and the United Nations announced it is increasing its funding appeal for the country by $900 million to a total of $1.5 billion. The additional funds will allow aid agencies to cope with a humanitarian crisis caused by the severe drought. The European Union’s ambassador to Somalia also pledged new funding of $53 million to boost the country’s education sector.

News summary of events during the week of 08MAY17 – 15MAY17

  • 08MAY: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it had repatriated some 62,372 Somali refugees from Dadaab camp in northeast Kenya since December 2014. (Xinhua)
  • 08MAY: At least six people were killed and about 10 injured in a car bomb attack in Mogadishu. (AFP)
  • 08MAY: At least six Kenyan security officers were injured in a bomb blast on the northeast region of Garissa near the Somali border. (Xinhua)
  • 09MAY: The Somali government and the European Union (EU) held talks on strengthening the Horn of Africa nation’s maritime security to help deter piracy along the coastline. (Xinhua)
  • 09MAY: At least six Somali soldiers were killed and several others injured in a landmine blast in Bay region of southwest Somalia. (Xinhua)
  • 09MAY: At least 16 people were killed as al-Shabaab militants took control of a village from the Somali army during several hours of fighting. (DPA)
  • 10MAY: The EU unveiled 53 million US dollars in funding to boost the education sector in Somalia. (Xinhua)
  • 10MAY: The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for increased humanitarian response and further funding to help avert looming famine in Somalia. (Xinhua)
  • 11MAY: World leaders met in London to strike a new agreement between Somalia and its international support network to speed up progress on security, development, and the economy by 2020. (Reuters)
  • 11MAY: Somalia’s president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed urged world powers to help him fight the “raging enemies” of terror, corruption, and poverty. (AFP)
  • 11MAY: Somalia’s president called for an end to the arms embargo on his long-chaotic country, saying that if the military doesn’t have more sophisticated equipment in the fight against the al-Shabab extremist group, “definitely this war will continue for another 10 years.” (AP)
  • 11MAY: Somalia successfully struck a new stability pact with the international community aimed at steadying the fragile state by bolstering its security, staving off famine, and rebooting its economy. (AFP)
  • 12MAY: Al Shabaab extremists killed two quarry workers in Kenya’s northern county of Mandera. (AP)
  • 12MAY: At least three people were killed and another one injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up in Kismayo town in southern Somalia. (Xinhua)
  • 14MAY: Somali regional legislator Abdirahman Mohamed Gure accused AU troops of killing at least 20 people in the centre of the country in revenge for having been ambushed by the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab. (DPA)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about Somalia’s attempts to fight al-Shabaab and strengthen ties with the international community

  • @ConorGaffeyConor Gaffey, Reporter, Newsweek
  • @JamalMOsmanJamal Osman, African journalist and filmmaker, Winner of the Royal Television Society Independent Award 2012
  • @PDWilliamsGWUPaul Williams, Associate Professor in International Affairs, George Washington University
  • @osobsamantarOsob Samantar, General Counsel, Somalia Forward
  • @SethGJonesSeth G. Jones, Director, RAND’s International Security and Defense Policy Center; Co-author of the report: Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency in Somalia

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding Somalia’s attempts to fight al-Shabaab and strengthen ties with the international community

Matt Bryden, Director, Sahan Research (Kenya)

“Stepping up military engagement is only part of the solution: it won’t address fundamental problems. Al-Shabaab is constantly evolving — it adeptly appropriates local social and political grievances — so defeating al-Shabaab requires a focus on engaging the population, not simply going around and killing militants.”

  • “Quarter Century After Black Hawk Down, U.S. Revisits Somalia,” Bloomberg, 07MAY17

Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, President, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (Germany)

“This is the last chance for the international community to stop risking hundreds of thousands of lives. There has to be quick, determined and extensive action now to compensate for previous neglect.”

  • “Somalia on the brink of humanitarian crisis”, Deutsche Welle, 11MAY17

Tristan McConnell, Foreign Correspondent (Freelance based in Kenya)

“Providing financial support for famine relief while creating political space for talks with al-Shabab are the best paths to mitigating the coming famine and preventing the others that will surely follow if the wrong action — or no action — is taken.”

  • “The U.S. made a critical mistake during Somalia’s last famine. Will we repeat it?” Washington Post, 09MAY17

Abdurahman Sharif, Director, Somalia NGO Consortium

“Reports of upcoming military offensives in the country are concerning as past experience shows that military offensives make it harder for people to reach help and create even more displacement. We believe it is imperative that the focus be on humanitarian response and averting famine and that armed conflict is not escalated in the current environment.”

  • “Aid Groups Question Timing of Military Offensives in Somalia Amid Famine Risk”, Voice of America, 10MAY17

Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children

“You’ve basically got the most fragile state in the world being scripted out of major finance.”

  • “UN chief warns the fate of Somalia ‘hangs in the balance’’, Financial Times, 11MAY17

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to Somalia’s attempts to fight al-Shabaab and strengthen ties with the international community

  1. Navy SEAL Who Died in Somalia Was Alongside, Not Behind, Local Forces

Media: New York Times

Byline: Helene Cooper

Date: 09 May 2017

LILONGWE, Malawi — The member of the Navy SEALs who was killed last week in Somalia was moving alongside — not behind, as the Pentagon initially said — Somali security forces approaching a complex inhabited by Shabab militants when the insurgents opened fire, American military officials said on Tuesday.

The SEAL member, Kyle Milliken, a 38-year-old senior chief petty officer, died on Friday during the mission in support of Somali Army forces fighting the Shabab, the Islamist militant group. Two other Americans, including a Somali-American interpreter, were wounded when they came under fire during the mission around 40 miles west of Mogadishu, the capital.

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  1. At least 6 Somali soldiers killed in landmine blast

Media: Xinhua (China)

Byline: N/A

Date: 09 May 2017

MOGADISHU, May 9 (Xinhua) — At least six Somali soldiers were killed and several others injured in a landmine blast in Bay region of southwest Somalia on Tuesday, an official said.

Information Minister for Southwest State, Ugaas Hassan told Xinhua the soldiers were killed after their vehicle hit a landmine as they were rushing to help to provide reinforcement to regional forces who were engaged in heavy fighting with Al-Shabaab.

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  1. UN calls for more funding to avert famine in Somalia

Media: Xinhua (China)

Byline: N/A

Date: 10 May 2017

MOGADISHU, May 10 (Xinhua) — The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for increased humanitarian response and further funding to help avert looming famine in Somalia.

In a statement issued on the eve of the London Somalia Conference, Guterres called for strengthening of the partnership between the international community, Somalia government and humanitarian partners to prevent famine.

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  1. Somalia leader wants arms embargo lifted to fight al-Shabab

Media: Associated Press

Byline: N/A

Date: 11 May 2017

LONDON (AP) — Somalia’s president on Thursday called for an end to the arms embargo on his long-chaotic country, saying that if the military doesn’t have more sophisticated equipment in the fight against the al-Shabab extremist group, “definitely this war will continue for another 10 years.”

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has repeatedly vowed to defeat al-Shabab within two years. He spoke to reporters at the end of a high-level conference to address the Horn of Africa nation’s deepening humanitarian and security crisis.

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  1. Somalia strikes new international pact to stabilise ravaged state

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 11 May 2017

London, May 11, 2017 (AFP) – Somalia struck a new stability pact with the international community on Thursday, aimed at steadying the fragile state by bolstering its security, staving off famine and rebooting its economy.

New President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed hailed a “historic day for Somalia” after concluding the pact between Mogadishu and the international network propping up the crisis-wracked country at a conference in London.

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