On 20 November, in Somalia, a targeted Al Shabaab attack in Mogadishu killed journalist Abdiaziz Mohamud Guled on his way out of a restaurant, wounding his driver and the director of State Television who was with the victim; many other passers-by were also wounded.
A well-known face in the Somali information community and a critic of terrorism, Abdiaziz “Africa” was known for having interviewed terrorist suspects detained by the Security Forces. He was therefore in the crosshairs of the insurgency, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
The assassination generated widespread emotion and condolences and attests to the intensity of a threat still capable of striking in an organised manner in the capital, because it still gathers enough followers to carry at least a targeted threat. Other lethal security events, but with less media resonance, have occurred in the South West, in Gedo, in the Lower Shabelle and in the Bay, that is, in the internal areas of the centre-south of the country where violence remains almost daily.
In this regard, news of the strengthening of cooperation with Turkey in the field of counterterrorism. Ankara has donated some military vehicles to Somalia and is proceeding with its training activities. In parallel – resuming the greater collaboration already outlined at the beginning of 2020 – the announcement was made of the reopening of the Saudi Embassy in the Somali Republic, closed for thirty years.
The aim is to support the Mogadishu authorities in the face of internal dangers, and also not to leave too much room for action by regional ‘rivals’ in the most urgent dossiers.
To this end, the clarification by the British Foreign Office, regarding the possible recognition of Somaliland, is also relevant. The existing political and economic relations will remain on the quiet; their re-emergence is subordinate to an eventual recognition of Hargeisa by Mogadishu, a development which, at the moment, seems remote. The clarification appears to be a point in favour of Mogadishu, at a time when such support is not taken for granted and when British companies are publicly choosing to invest in Somaliland.
Far from being able to really decide independently on its own destiny, Somalia will still, in the near future, see the theme of international relations as diriment, but still not a shared approach on these matters. On the contrary, foreign affairs also tend to become one of the terrains on which to seek confrontation – or mediate other interests.
The news of the sudden replacement of Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdirizak (20 November) came as a surprise but is part of this dynamic. It benefits Abdisaid Muse Ali, President Farmajo’s man and his former national security advisor.
The driving force behind the decision seems to be the rapprochement between the PM and the President, which is continuing in this preparatory phase to the vote for the Lower House of Parliament. On a parallel track, the military prosecutor’s office investigating the disappearance of security agent Ikran Tahlil has also stated that there is no responsibility on the part of international bodies in the affair.