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Somali Civil War

</table> The Somali Civil War is an ongoing civil war taking place in Somalia. It grew out of resistance to the Siad Barre regime during the 1980s. By 1988–90, the Somali Armed Forces began engaging various armed rebel groups,[12] including the Somali Salvation Democratic Front in the northeast,[13] the Somali National Movement in the northwest,[12] and the United Somali Congress in the south.[14] The clan-based armed opposition groups eventually managed to overthrow the Barre government in 1991.[15] Various armed factions began competing for influence in the power vacuum and turmoil that followed, particularly in the south.[16] Among the effects of the 1990-92 fighting was the temporary collapse of customary law.[17] This precipitated the arrival of UNITAF and UNOSOM peacekeeping forces in December 1992.[15] Factional fighting persisted in the south. With the absence of a central government, Somalia also began to be characterized as a "failed state".[18] The UN withdrew in 1995, having incurred significant casualties, but no central authority had yet been reestablished.[16] After the collapse of the central government, there was some return to customary and religious law in most regions.[19] In 1991 and 1998, two autonomous regional governments were also established in the northern part of the country.[16] This led to a relative decrease in the intensity of the fighting, with SIPRI removing Somalia from its list of major armed conflicts for the years 1997 and 1998.[20] In 2000, the Transitional National Government was established, followed by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004. The trend towards reduced conflict halted in 2005, and sustained and destructive conflict took place in the south in 2005-07.[21] However, the fighting was of a much lower scale and intensity than in the early 1990s.[20] In 2006, the TFG, assisted by Ethiopian troops, seized most of the south from the newly formed Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU subsequently splintered into more radical groups, notably Al-Shabaab, which have since been fighting the Somali government and the AU-mandated AMISOM peacekeeping force for control of the country. During this period, due to the protracted lack of a permanent central authority, Somalia topped the annual Fragile States Index for six years between 2008 and 2013.[22] In October 2011, following preparatory meetings, Kenyan troops entered southern Somalia ("Operation Linda Nchi") to assist the Somali military in the joint Operation Linda Nchi against Al-Shabaab.[23] The mission was officially led by the Somali government forces, with Kenyan troops providing support.[24] Kenyan troops were formally integrated into the multinational force in February 2012.[25] The Federal Government of Somalia was later established in August 2012, constituting the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war.[26] International stakeholders and analysts subsequently began to describe Somalia as a progressing "fragile state", which was on the reconstructive path to stability and eventual prosperity.[27][28] In August 2014, the Somali government-led Operation Indian Ocean was launched to clean up the remaining insurgent-held pockets in the countryside.[29]

Fall of Barre regime (1986–91)

Main article: Somali Rebellion

In May 1986, Barre suffered serious injuries in an automobile accident near Mogadishu, when the car that was transporting him smashed into the back of a bus during a heavy rainstorm.[30] He was treated in a hospital in Saudi Arabia for head injuries, broken ribs and shock over a period of a month.[31][32] Lieutenant General Mohamed Ali Samatar, then Vice President, subsequently served as de facto head of state for the next several months. Although Barre managed to recover enough to present himself as the sole presidential candidate for re-election over a term of seven years on December 23, 1986, his poor health and advanced age led to speculation about who would succeed him in power. Possible contenders included his son-in-law General Ahmed Suleiman Abdille, who was at the time the Minister of the Interior, in addition to Samatar.[30][31]

File:Abandoned Somali tanks.JPEG
Three abandoned Somali National Army (SNA) M47 Tanks sit destroyed near a warehouse following the outbreak of the civil war.

In an effort to hold on to power, Barre's ruling Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) became increasingly authoritarian and arbitrary. This caused opposition to his regime to grow. Barre in turn tried to quell the unrest by abandoning appeals to nationalism, relying more and more on his own inner circle, and exploiting historical clan animosities. By the mid-1980s, more resistance movements supported by Ethiopia's communist Derg administration had sprung up across the country. Barre responded by ordering punitive measures against those he perceived as locally supporting the guerillas, especially in the northern regions. The clampdown included bombing of cities, with the northwestern administrative center of Hargeisa, a Somali National Movement (SNM) stronghold, among the targeted areas in 1988.[33]

In 1990, on the eve of the civil war, Somalia's first President Aden Abdullah Osman Daar and about 100 other Somali politicians signed a manifesto advocating reconciliation.[34] A number of the signatories were subsequently arrested.[35] Barre's heavy-handed tactics further strengthened the appeal of the various rebel movements, although these groups' only common goal was the overthrow of his regime.[33]


United Somali Congress topples Barre

File:The armed faction of the Somali territory in 1992.png
Distribution of the armed rebel factions (1992).

In December 1990, United Somali Congress (USC) rebels entered Mogadishu. Four weeks of battle between Barre's remaining troops and the USC ensued, over the course of which the USC brought in more forces into the city. By January 1991, USC rebels had managed to defeat the Red Berets, in the process toppling Barre's regime.[33] The remainder of the regime's forces then finally collapsed. Some became irregular regional forces and clan militias.[36] After the USC's victory over Barre's troops, the other rebel groups declined to cooperate with it, as each instead drew primary support from their own constituencies.[33] Among these other opposition movements were the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) and Somali Democratic Alliance (SDA), a Gadabuursi group which had been formed in the northwest to counter the Somali National Movement Isaaq militia.[37] For its part, the SNM initially refused to accept the legitimacy of the provisional government that the USC had established.[33] However, the SNM's former leader Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo later proposed a power-sharing framework in March 1991 between the SNM and USC under a new transitional government.[38]

Many of the opposition groups subsequently began competing for influence in the power vacuum that followed the ouster of Barre's regime. In the south, armed factions led by USC commanders General Mohamed Farah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, in particular, clashed as each sought to exert authority over the capital.[39] In the northwest, at the Burao conference of April–May 1991, SNM secessionists proclaimed independence for the region under the name Somaliland.[40] They concurrently selected the SNM's leader Abdirahman Ahmed Ali Tuur as president.[41]

United Nations intervention (1992–95)

Main articles: UNOSOM I, UNITAF and UNOSOM II

UN Security Council Resolution 733 and UN Security Council Resolution 746 led to the creation of UNOSOM I, the first mission to provide humanitarian relief and help restore order in Somalia after the dissolution of its central government.

File:Port of Mogadishu Checkpoint.jpg
An American soldier at the main entrance to the Port of Mogadishu points to identify a sniper's possible firing position (January 1994).

United Nations Security Council Resolution 794 was unanimously passed on December 3, 1992, which approved a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States. Forming the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the alliance was tasked with assuring security until humanitarian efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation were transferred to the UN. Landing in 1993, the UN peacekeeping coalition started the two-year United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) primarily in the south.[42] UNITAF's original mandate was to use "all necessary means" to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid in accordance to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.[43]

During negotiations from 1993 to 1995, Somali principals had some success in reconciliation and establishment of public authorities. Among these initiatives was the Mudug peace agreement of June 1993 between Aidid's forces and the SSDF, which established a ceasefire between the Haber Gedir and the Majeerteen clans, opened the trade routes, and formalized the withdrawal of militants from Galkayo; the UNOSOM-mediated Hirab reconciliation of January 1994 in Mogadishu between elders of the rival Abgal and Haber Gedir clans, which was backed by politicians from these constituencies and concluded with a pact to end hostilities, dismantle the green line partitioning the city, and remove road blocks; the UNOSOM-mediated Kismayo initiative of 1994 between the SNA, SPM, SSDF, and representatives of nineteen clans from the southern Lower Juba and Middle Juba regions;[44] the 1994 Bardhere conference between the Marehan and Rahanweyn (Digil and Mirifle), which resolved conflicts over local resources; and the short-lived Digil-Mirifle Governing Council for the southern Bay and Bakool regions, which was established in March 1995.[40]

Some of the militias that were then competing for power saw UNOSOM's presence as a threat to their hegemony. Consequently, gun battles took place in Mogadishu between local gunmen and peacekeepers. Among these was the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993, an unsuccessful attempt by U.S. troops to apprehend faction leader Aidid. UN soldiers eventually withdrew altogether from the country on March 3, 1995, having incurred more significant casualties.[45]

USC/SSA (1995–2000)

According to Interpeace, after UNOSOM's departure in March 1995, military clashes between local factions became shorter, generally less intense, and more localized. This was in part due to the large-scale UN military intervention that had helped to curb the intense fighting between the major factions, who then began to focus on consolidating gains that they had made. The local peace and reconciliation initiatives that had been undertaken in the south-central part of the country between 1993 and 1995 also generally had a positive impact.[40]

Aidid subsequently declared himself President of Somalia on June 15, 1995.[46] However, his declaration received no recognition, as his rival Ali Mahdi Muhammad had already been elected interim President at a conference in Djibouti and recognized as such by the international community.[47]

Consequently, Aidid's faction continued its quest for hegemony in the south. In September 1995, militia forces loyal to him attacked and occupied the city of Baidoa.[48] Aidid's forces remained in control of Baidoa from September 1995 to at least January 1996, while the local Rahanweyn Resistance Army militia continued to engage his forces in the town's environs.[49]

Fighting continued in the later half of 1995 in southern Kismayo and the Juba Valley, as well as southwestern and central Somalia. However, despite these pockets of conflict, the Gedo and Middle Shabelle regions, in addition to both the northeastern and northwestern parts of the country remained relatively peaceful. A number of the regional and district administrations that had been locally established in the preceding few years continued to operate in these areas.[49]

In March 1996, Ali Mahdi was elected chairman of the United Somali Congress/Somali Salvation Alliance (USC/SSA), based in northern Mogadishu. In the southern part of city, Aidid's forces battled those of Osman Atto for control of the port of Merca as well as strategic areas in Mogadishu. Fighting in Merca eventually ended after elders intervened, but continued in Mogadishu. In August 1996, Aidid died from wounds incurred during combat in the Medina area.[50]

In 1998, a homegrown constitutional conference was held in the northeastern town of Garowe over a period of three months. Attended by the area's political elite, traditional elders (Issims), members of the business community, intellectuals and other civil society representatives, the autonomous Puntland State of Somalia was subsequently officially established so as to deliver services to the population, offer security, facilitate trade, and interact with both domestic and international partners.[51]

According to IRIN, Eritrea in 1999 was alleged to be supporting and supplying Somali National Alliance forces led by the late Aidid's son Hussein Farrah Aidid. Aidid jr. denied the claims, stating that the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had requested that he mediate between Ethiopia and Eritrea in their separate conflict. He also asserted that both Zenawi and the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki had trained in Somalia under the Barre regime.[52] By the end of the year, the Rahanweyn Resistance Army had taken control of the southern Bay and Bakool provinces. The RRA subsequently established the Southwestern State of Somalia regional administration, with the group's leader Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud elected as the new polity's inaugural president.[53]

In 2000, Ali Mahdi participated in another conference in Djibouti. He lost a re-election bid there to Barre's former Interior Minister Abdiqasim Salad Hassan.[54]

The TFG, Islamic Courts Union, and Ethiopia (2006–09)

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, one of the founders of the Transitional Federal Government, established in 2004.

In 2000, the Transitional National Government (TNG) was established.[15] After a two-year consultation process, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed in 2004 by Somali politicians in Nairobi under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The process also led to the establishment of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), and concluded in October 2004 with the election of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as President.[55] The TFG thereafter became Somalia's internationally recognized government.[56]

In the first half of 2005, disagreements arose between Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden over where to base the TFG. Ghedi preferred Jowhar while Adan favored Baidoa.[57] In an effort to persuade President Yusuf, Adan and a group of legislators and ministers visited Mogadishu to mobilize support from the local business community.[58] The two leaders, President Yusuf and members of parliament also met in Kenya to work out a compromise.[57] Concurrently, the TFG sent official delegations to Jowhar and Baidoa to assess the suitability of each city as a temporary headquarters for the TFG before an eventual relocation of government offices to Mogadishu.[59] In June–July 2005, the Transitional Federal Government established an interim seat in Jowhar due to ongoing insecurity in the capital.[60] The TFG later moved its temporary headquarters to Baidoa.[55]

In order to stabilize the security situation, President Yusuf requested that the African Union deploy military forces in Somalia. However, as the AU lacked the resources to do so over the short term, Ahmed enlisted soldiers from his own constituency. Ethiopia concurrently provided military training for the new troops. These developments along with the U.S. funding the ARPCT coalition of faction leaders alarmed many individuals in south-central Somalia, and provided the ascendant Islamic Courts Union (ICU) with substantial recruitment opportunities.[58]

A battle for Mogadishu followed in the first half of 2006 in which the ARPCT confronted the ICU.[61] However, with local support, the ICU captured the city in June of the year. It then expanded its area of control in south-central Somalia over the following months, assisted militarily by Eritrea.[58] In an effort at reconciliation, TFG and ICU representatives held several rounds of talks in Khartoum under the auspices of the Arab League. The meetings ended unsuccessfully due to uncompromising positions retained by both parties.[55] Hardline Islamists subsequently gained power within the ICU, prompting fears of a Talibanization of the movement.[62]

Political and military situation in Somalia, December 24, 2006.

In December 2006, Ethiopian troops entered Somalia to assist the TFG against the advancing Islamic Courts Union,[15] initially winning the Battle of Baidoa. On December 28, 2006, the allied forces recaptured the capital from the ICU.[63] The offensive helped the TFG solidify its rule.[61] Ethiopian and TFG forces forced the ICU from Ras Kamboni between January 7–12, 2007. They were assisted by at least two U.S. air strikes.[64] On January 8, 2007, for the first time since taking office, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed entered Mogadishu from Baidoa to engage in consultations with local business, religious and civil society representatives as the TFG moved its base to the national capital.[65] The interim administration had just established control over much of the central and southern parts of the country.[63] Government members and officials from the International Contact Group on Somalia conurrently began planning broad-based reconciliation talks, deployment of a peacekeeping force, disarmament, and a national development strategy.[65] According to AMISOM, the TFG gained widespread acceptance and made significant progress in the areas of political institutionalization.[55]

In Mogadishu, residents belonging to the same Hawiye clan as the ousted ICU resented the Islamic Courts Union's defeat.[66] They distrusted the TFG, which was at the time dominated by individuals from the Darod clan, believing that it was dedicated to the advancement of Darod interests in lieu of the Hawiye. Additionally, they feared reprisals for massacres committed in 1991 in Mogadishu by Hawiye militants against Darod civilians, and were dismayed by Ethiopian involvement.[67] Critics of the TFG likewise charged that its federalist platform was part of a plot by the Ethiopian government to keep Somalia weak and divided.[68] During its first few months in the capital, the TFG was initially restricted to key strategic points, with the large northwestern and western suburbs controlled by Hawiye rebels.[69] In March 2007, President Ahmed announced plans to forcibly disarm militias in the city.[67] According to the ISA, a coalition of local insurgents led by Al-Shabaab subsequently launched a wave of attacks against the TFG and Ethiopian troops.[70] The allied forces in return mounted a heavy-handed response.[71] HRW alleged that all of the warring parties were responsible for widespread violations of the laws of war, as civilians were caught in the ensuing crossfire. Insurgents reportedly deployed militants and established strongholds in heavily populated neighborhoods, launched mortar rounds from residential areas, and targeted public and private individuals for assassination and violence. Although TFG forces played a secondary role to the Ethiopian troops, they were in turn alleged to have failed to efficaciously warn civilians in combat zones, impeded relief efforts, plundered property, and mistreated detainees during mass arrests. Ethiopian forces were similarly reported to have indiscriminately fired mortars, rockets and artillery shells into densely populated areas, looted property, and in some instances shot and executed civilians.[70]

In February 2007, the arms embargo on Somalia was amended to allow states to supply weapons to the TFG's security forces, provided that they received prior approval from the UN's Somalia Sanctions Committee. After long discussions, the African Union approved the initial deployment of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) in March 2007, with a mandate to facilitate the re-constitution of Somalia's security forces.[56] It established a small area of protection around Mogadishu's airport, seaport, and Villa Somalia, and began to adopt a low-key negotiating profile with key actors.[72] In November 2008, following repeated violations of the weapons blockade, the Security Council decided that an arms embargo could be imposed on entities involved in such breaches.[56]

File:Political situation in Somalia following the Ethiopian withdrawal.png
Political situation in Somalia following the Ethiopian military withdrawal, February 3, 2009.

Following their defeat, the Islamic Courts Union splintered into several different factions. Some of the more radical elements, including Al-Shabaab, regrouped to continue their insurgency against the TFG and oppose the Ethiopian military's presence in Somalia. Throughout 2007 and 2008, Al-Shabaab scored military victories, seizing control of key towns and ports in both central and southern Somalia. At the end of 2008, the group had captured Baidoa but not Mogadishu. On May 1, 2008, the U.S. made an airstrike on Dhusamareb, and followed on 3 May with another airstrike on the border town of Dobley. Aording to the International Crisis Group, Ethiopia's leaders were surprised by the insurgency's persistence and strength and frustrated at the TFG's chronic internal problems.[73] By January 2009, Al-Shabaab and other militias had managed to force the Ethiopian troops to retreat, leaving behind an understaffed African Union peacekeeping force.[74]

Due to a lack of funding and human resources, an arms embargo that made it difficult to re-establish a national security force, and general indifference on the part of the international community, President Yusuf found himself obliged to deploy thousands of troops from Puntland to Mogadishu to sustain the battle against insurgent elements in the southern part of the country. Financial support for this effort was provided by the autonomous region's government. This left little revenue for Puntland's own security forces and civil service employees, leaving the territory vulnerable to piracy and terrorist attacks.[75][76]

On December 29, 2008, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed announced before a united parliament in Baidoa his resignation as President of Somalia. In his speech, which was broadcast on national radio, Yusuf expressed regret at failing to end the country's seventeen-year conflict as his government had mandated to do.[77] He also blamed the international community for its failure to support the government, and said that the speaker of parliament would succeed him in office per the Charter of the Transitional Federal Government.[78]

Coalition government

The battle flag of Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group waging war against the federal government.

Between May 31 and June 9, 2008, representatives of Somalia's federal government and the moderate Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) group of Islamist rebels participated in peace talks in Djibouti brokered by the former United Nations Special Envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. The conference ended with a signed agreement calling for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in exchange for the cessation of armed confrontation. Parliament was subsequently expanded to 550 seats to accommodate ARS members, which then elected Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the former ARS chairman, to office. President Sharif shortly afterwards appointed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the son of slain former President Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, as the nation's new Prime Minister.[15]

With the help of AMISOM, the coalition government also began a counteroffensive in February 2009 to assume full control of the southern half of the country. To solidify its rule, the TFG formed an alliance with the Islamic Courts Union, other members of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a, a moderate Sufi militia.[79] Furthermore, Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, the two main Islamist groups in opposition, began to fight amongst themselves in mid-2009.[80]

As a truce, in March 2009, Somalia's coalition government announced that it would re-implement shari'a as the nation's official judicial system.[81] However, conflict continued in the southern and central parts of the country. Within months, the coalition government had gone from holding about 70% of south-central Somalia's conflict zones, territory which it had inherited from the previous Yusuf administration, to losing control of over 80% of the disputed territory to the Islamist insurgents.[82]

War in Somalia (2009–present)

In November 2010, a new technocratic government was elected to office, which enacted numerous reforms. Among these, in its first 50 days in office, the new administration completed its first monthly payment of stipends to government soldiers, and initiated the implementation of a full biometric register for the security forces, aimed to take place within a window of four months.[83]

File:Somalia map states regions districts.png
Political situation in Somalia as of October 14, 2014.

On August 6, 2011, Al-Shabaab was forced to withdraw from most areas of Mogadishu. Somali government forces and their AMISOM allies subsequently launched offensives in January 2012 on the insurgent group's last foothold on the northern outskirts of the city.[84] An ideological rift within Al-Shabaab's leadership also emerged after the 2011 drought and the assassination of top officials in the organization.[85]

In October 2011, following a weekend preparatory meeting between Somali and Kenyan military officials in the town of Dhobley,[23] a coordinated operation between the Somali Armed Forces and the Kenya Defence Forces began against the Al-Shabaab group of insurgents in southern Somalia.[86][24] The cross-border incursion had reportedly taken nearly two years of planning, during which Kenyan officials had sought U.S. support.[87] The mission was officially led by the Somali army, with the Kenyan forces providing a support role.[24] In early June 2012, Kenyan troops were formally integrated into AMISOM.[88]

In late September and early October 2012, Somali government troops, AMISOM's Kenyan contingent, and the allied Raskamboni militia captured the strategic town of Kismayo from Al-Shabaab. The southern city was a key source of revenue for the insurgent group and constituted its last major stronghold.[89]

By November 2012, around 85 percent of the disputed territory in Somalia was under government control according to UN Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga. An eventual exit date for the AMISOM troops would also be finalized once the Somali security and police forces were adequately trained and prepared.[90]

In January 2013, AMISOM's mandate was extended for another year following the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2093. The 15-member UN Security Council therein also unanimously voted to suspend Somalia's arms embargo on light weapons for a one-year period. Additionally, the Security Council welcomed the Federal Government's development of a new national security strategy, urging the central authorities to accelerate the plan's implementation, further define the Somali national security forces' composition, and identify capability gaps to assist their international partners in better addressing them.[91]

According to Laura Hammond of the School of Oriental and African Studies, the federal government assisted by AMISOM had concurrently managed to re-capture all of Somalia's major urban centers. However, Al-Shabaab still controlled many rural areas, where a number of their operatives had reportedly disappeared into local communities in order to more effectively exploit any mistakes by the central authorities.[92]

In October 2013, the U.S. military began establishing the Mogadishu Coordinating Cell in the Somali capital, which became fully operational in late December.[93] The unit was formed at the request of the Somali government and AMISOM, who had approached U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in September about the possibility. It consists of a small team of fewer than five advisers, including planners and communicators between the Somali authorities and AMISOM. The cell is intended to provide consultative and planning support to the allied forces in order to enhance their capacity and to promote peace and security throughout the country and wider region.[94] In November 2013, a senior Ethiopian government official announced that Ethiopia's troops deployed in Somalia would soon join AMISOM, having already forwarded a request to do so. At the time, an estimated 8,000 Ethiopian soldiers were stationed in the country.[95] The Somali Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision, asserting that the move would galvanize AMISOM's campaign against Al-Shabaab.[96]

Following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2124, which authorized the deployment of 4,000 additional troops to augment AMISOM's 22,126 strong force, Ethiopian troops formally joined the mission in January 2014.[97] They are mandated to work alongside the Somali National Army, with responsibility for the allied forces' operations in the southern Gedo, Bakool and Bay regions. The Ethiopian troops represent AMISOM's sixth contingent after the Djibouti, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Uganda units.[98]

In January 2014, at an African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud requested an extension of the UN Security Council's weapons purchasing mandate for Somalia after its March expiration. He indicated that the Somali defence forces required better military equipment and arms to more effectively combat militants.[99] The following month, the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group released a report alleging that systematic abuses by officials within the Somali government had allowed weapons to be diverted away from Somalia's security forces and into the hands of faction leaders and Al-Shabaab militants. The panel asserted that it had observed various issues and concerns surrounding the management of weapons and ammunition stockpiles, including difficulties by monitors in accessing local weapons stockpiles and in obtaining information about the arms. While conceding that the monitoring panel's limited data made it impossible to quantify the scale of the alleged weapons stock diversion, the monitors also suggested that one key adviser to the president was involved in planning arms deliveries to Al-Shabaab and that shipments of weapons from Djibouti and Uganda could not be accounted for.[100] Somali Chief of Army Dahir Adan Elmi denied the allegations, asserting that no public officials had sold or diverted weapons and that the arms were instead in safe custody.[101] He also indicated that a UN monitoring team had twice visited the government's weapons and ammunition storage facilities in Mogadishu,[102] where it was shown the arms stockpiles for inspection and had reportedly expressed satisfaction.[101] Additionally, the Commander stated that the government had twice purchased weapons since the arms embargo on Somalia was partially lifted.[102] Elmi also asserted that Al-Shabaab already possessed an adequate supply of weapons and mainly utilized explosive devices and sophisticated bombs. He likewise suggested that the Monitoring Group had fabricated its allegations in an effort to impede the functionality of the Somali government and military, while attempting to raise funds for its own activities by trying to keep Al-Shabaab an indefinite concern.[103]

In February 2014, a delegation led by Prime Minister of Somalia Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed met in Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. Ahmed commended Ethiopia's role in the ongoing peace and stabilization process in Somalia as well as its support against Al-Shabaab, and welcomed the Ethiopian military's decision to join AMISOM. Hailemariam Desalegn in turn pledged his administration's continued support for the peace and stabilization efforts in Somalia, as well as its preparedness to assist in initiatives aiming to build up the Somali security forces through experience-sharing and training. The meeting concluded with a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to promote partnership and cooperation, including a cooperative agreement to develop the police force, a second cooperative agreement covering the information field, and a third cooperative agreement on the aviation sector.[104]

On 5 March 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to extend the partial easing of the arms embargo on Somalia until 25 October of the year.[105] The resolution permits the Somali government to purchase light weapons, with the stipulation that all member states must take steps to prevent the direct or indirect supply, transfer or sale of arms and military equipment to individuals or entities outside of the Somali security forces.[105][106] The Somali government is also required to routinely report on the structural status of the military, as well as provide information on the extant infrastructure and protocols designed to ensure the military equipment's safe delivery, storage and maintenance.[106]

In early March 2014, Somali security forces and AMISOM groups launched an intensified military operation to remove Al-Shabaab from the remaining areas in southern Somalia under its control.[107] According to Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the government subsequently launched stabilization efforts in the newly liberated areas, which included Rab Dhuure, Hudur, Wajid and Burdhubo. The Ministry of Defence was providing ongoing reassurance and security to the local residents, and supplying logistical and security support. Additionally, the Ministry of Interior was prepared to support and put into place programs to assist local administration and security. A Deputy Minister and several religious scholars were also dispatched to all four towns to coordinate and supervise the federal government's stabilization initiatives.[108] By March 26, the allied forces had liberated ten towns within the month, including Qoryoley and El Buur.[109][110] UN Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Kay described the military advance as the most significant and geographically extensive offensive since AU troops began operations in 2007.[111]

In August 2014, the Somali government-led Operation Indian Ocean was launched to cleanup the remaining insurgent-held pockets in the countryside.[29] On 1 September 2014, a U.S. drone strike carried out as part of the broader mission killed Al-Shabaab leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr.[112] U.S. authorities hailed the raid as a major symbolic and operational loss for Al-Shabaab, and the Somali government offered a 45-day amnesty to all moderate members of the militant group. Political analysts also suggested that the insurgent commander's death will likely lead to Al-Shabaab's fragmentation and eventual dissolution.[113]


According to Necrometrics, around 500,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Somalia since the start of the civil war in 1991.[5] The Armed Conflict Location & Event Dataset estimates that 3,300 people were killed during the conflict in 2012,[114] with the number of fatalities dropping slightly in 2013 to 3,150.[114]

See also

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  1. ^ Various start dates have been offered for when the civil war in Somalia began. The Central Bank of Somalia,[1] the United Nations,[2][3] the US Office of the Secretary of Defense,[4] and Necrometrics all assert that the conflict started in 1991, after the ouster of the Siad Barre administration.[5] Political scientist James Fearon argues that the start of the conflict could be dated to 1981, when armed Isaaq clan militias began to launch small-scale attacks against the Barre regime and its Isaaq members, to the razing of the Isaaq majority town of Hargeisa in 1988 by state forces, or to 1991, following the collapse of the Barre administration and the commencement of anarchic interclan warfare. For analytical purposes, he settles on 1991 for the start date of a new civil war, on the grounds that the fighting had begun previously, but that a major party to the conflict was defeated.[6]


  1. ^ "Board of Directors". Central Bank of Somalia. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "UN senior official calls for widespread support for Somali Government reform efforts" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Somalia - UNOSOM II: Background". United Nations. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Richard B. Cheney - George H.W. Bush Administration". US Office of the Secretary of Defense. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Twentieth Century Atlas – Death Tolls and Casualty Statistics for Wars, Dictatorships and Genocides". Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ Fearon, James D. (2004). "Why Do Some Civil Wars Last So Much Longer Than Others?". Journal of Peace Research 41 (3): 275–301. doi:10.1177/0022343304043770. 
  7. ^ Kenya: Seven Oromo Liberation Front Fighters Held in Garissa (Daily Nation), January 6, 2007
  8. ^ "Al-Shabaab leader's fate unclear after suspected U.S. drone strike". CNN. 
  9. ^ "U.S. drone strike in Somalia targets al-Shabab leader". The Washington Post. 
  10. ^ c.f. UCDP datasets for SNA, SRRC, USC, SNM, ARS/UIC and Al-Shabaab tolls.
  11. ^ UCDP non-state conflict tolls
  12. ^ a b Ken Menkhaus, 'Local Security Systems in Somali East Africa,' in Andersen/Moller/Stepputat (eds.) , Fragile States and Insecure People,' Palgrave, 2007, 73.
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Further reading

  • Afyare Abdi Elmi. Understanding the Somalia conflagration: Identity, political Islam and peacebuilding. Pluto Press, 2010.
  • Barnes, Cedric, and Harun Hassan. "The rise and fall of Mogadishu's Islamic Courts." Journal of Eastern African Studies 1, no. 2 (2007): 151–160.
  • Bøås, Morten. "Returning to realities: a building-block approach to state and statecraft in Eastern Congo and Somalia." Conflict, Security & Development 10, no. 4 (2010): 443–464.
  • I. M. Lewis. A Modern History of the Somali: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa, Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-8214-1495-8.
  • Jutta Bakonyi. Authority and administration beyond the state: local governance in southern Somalia, 1995–2006, Journal of Eastern African Studies, Vol. 7, Issue 2, 2013.
  • Ken Menkhaus. Somalia: State collapse and the threat of terrorism. Adelphi Papers No. 364, Routledge, 2008.
  • McGregor, Andrew. "The Leading Factions Behind the Somali Insurgency." Terrorism Monitor, Volume V, Issue 8, April 26, 2007.

External links

Somali Civil War
Part of the conflicts in the Horn of Africa
A Black Hawk helicopter, callsign Super 6-4, over the Mogadishu coast (1993)
Date1986–present (including periods of only minor conflict)
(34 years and 4 months)[nb 1]

Ongoing conflict


1986–91: 23x15px Somali Democratic Republic (until 1991)

Allied rebel groups:

  • SNF (after 1991)

1986–91: Armed rebel groups:



23x15px United Nations

23x15px Islamic Courts Union
23x15px Oromo Liberation Front[7]
23x15px Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia
23x15px Al-Shabaab
23x15px Ras Kamboni Brigades
23x15px Jabhatul Islamiya

23x15px Muaskar Anole

23x15px Transitional Federal Government
23x15px Ethiopia
23x15px AMISOM
Allied armed groups:

23x15px Al-Qaeda

23x15px Foreign Mujahideen

23x15px Hizbul Islam

23x15px Federal Government of Somalia
23x15px AMISOM

23x15px United States[8]

Casualties and losses
300,000 (SFG)–</small>500,000+ (AFP)[5][10][11] dead

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