The events in Galmudug turned back the political and security clock in north-central Somalia. Militiamen from ASWJ (Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a) – a moderate group, opposed in the past to Al Shabaab terrorists – were involved over the duration of a week.

This militia was particularly active in the border regions with Ethiopia in 2011-2015 and was instrumental in combating jihadist and fundamentalist terrorism. ASWJ was particularly active in the border regions with Ethiopia in 2011-2015 and has been instrumental in fighting jihadist and fundamentalist terrorism.

The militia leaders had been absent from the news for the last two years. Excluded from a power agreement, they have nevertheless decided to take up arms and have shown a more than discreet offensive capacity – perhaps with some help from internal actors, rather than from abroad, as was the case at the height of their rise, when the objective was to curb the activities of the Al Shabaab at all costs. In latest events, 120 victims fell on both sides.

The Army and Authorities in Mogadishu have now decided to prevent any advance towards the regional capital of Galmudug, DhusaMareb. It remains to be seen whether armed activities will continue and represent a new front for the anti-government insurgency. External observers have issued worried statements about the effects on the civilian population – and there is speculation about a review of cooperation in military training.

A return of violence before the election cycle is indeed a concern for several internal actors. In particular, one wonders whether the events in Guriel may signal that there is no progress in the peaceful resolution of demands and disputes, especially with actors who had shown adherence – or at least some degree of adherence – to the institutions.

The ceasefire may serve to bring these demands back to the negotiating table, thus to more ‘normal’ dynamics observed during 2021 in Somalia.


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