The Barre government won (August 7) confidence in Parliament, with 229 votes in favour, 7 against and one abstention (https://en.radiodalsan.com/76286/2022/08/somali-parliament-endorses-newly-appointed-cabinet/). The official ceremony held in Villa Somalia was targeted with mortar fire, which, however, fell nearby without causing casualties. The event is attributed to the terrorist movement Al Shabaab.
Local press emphasises the possibility of détente gestures towards the insurgency, given the presence in the government of the former Al Shabaab spokesman Robow (https://en.radiodalsan.com/76386/2022/08/former-al-shabaab-spokesman-mukhtar-robow-officially-takes-office-as-somalias-new-minister-of-religious-affairs/). An assessment is now premature. Robow’s presence may suggest a change of approach, but it could also be read as a reward to those who had defected, thus as a new challenge to Al Shabaab. The terrorist movement may therefore oppose the new Executive, even if the latter rethinks parts of the muscular strategy that have proved unsuccessful. The military approach will not be scaled down, at least in the short term.
Proof of this is – shortly after the installation of the new AFRICOM Commander, Gen. Langley – the US air raid in Hiraan (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/us-military-carries-out-another-airstrike-in-central-somalia/), with a toll of 13 terrorists killed. The Al Shabaab movement has not commented on this news, which testifies to the US attention to the continent.
Another test for the Somali government is its relations with local authorities. New tensions have developed in Somaliland: protests promoted in Hargeisa by the oppositions against the hypothesis of the postponement of the presidential elections – as of now to be held on November 13 – have degenerated into clashes with security forces. The toll is at least 7 dead and dozens injured. Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, UK and the EU condemned the violence, while a US delegation met with local leaders (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/somaliland-leader-receives-us-delegation-after-deadly-protests/). Further protests remain possible; in fact, the opposition is raising the possibility of an ‘alternative’ government if regional President Bihi does not make détente gestures, which now seem to be ruled out.
A third urgent task is combating drought, which now affects over one million people, forced to seek shelter far from their homes. This number is unprecedented in Somalia since the 1980s and has doubled in recent months. To raise attention on the issue, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the NRC (Norwegian Refugee Council) denounced again effects that are spreading across the region to Ethiopia and Kenya. The Somali government, despite its new composition, is however still unable to control the territory in full and thus provide responses to the people (https://www.vaticannews.va/it/papa/news/2022-08/post-angelus-appelli-papa-francesco-14-agosto-news-domenica-oggi.html).
Positive news is, at least, the arrival of 40 containers of food aid (14 August) donated by the United Arab Emirates (https://shabellemedia.com/uae-delivers-1000-tonnes-of-aid-to-drought-hit-somalia/). The shipment of around 1,000 t of food was organised by the UAE’s Red Crescent and was received in Mogadishu by a high-level government delegation, before being partly sorted to other coastal centres such as Berbera, Bosaso and Kismayo. There were also positive effects of Somali President Mohamud’s visit to Uganda for meetings with his counterpart Museweni. New bilateral agreements signed: in addition to the trade agreements that have been made public (https://www.infoafrica.it/2022/08/11/accordo-tra-kampala-e-mogadiscio-per-la-cooperazione-commerciale/), others were signed on defence and security.