After meeting Kenya’s newly inaugurated President Ruto in Nairobi at the end of his official inauguration ceremony, Somali President Mohamud held bilateral talks with his counterpart focusing on trade and security cooperation. Attempts are being made to move beyond the resumption of khat exports from Kenya, and reset Kenyan support for Mogadishu’s counter-terrorism efforts. Nairobi’s action was viewed with strong suspicion by the previous Farmajo presidency, which repeatedly denounced undue interferences.
There have been fewer minor security incidents during the period under consideration. Attacks promoted by Al Shabaab terrorism mingled with clan-based violence in the central-southern hinterland. The counter-offensive of the Somali National Army in Hiraan (https://www.radiodalsan.com/en/77200/2022/09/mp-malik-mubarak-joins-somali-army-local-militia-liberate-aborey-after-12-year-al-shabab-rule/) is significant. According to local sources, 43 militants were killed (http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2022/Sept/187880/sna_kills_43_al_shabaab_fighters_in_hiiraan.aspx).
Ten suspected militants were also detained in Mogadishu where they are now being interrogated, following raids and searches in three different houses-hideouts (https://www.radiodalsan.com/en/77180/2022/09/somali-police-probes-al-shabab-suspect-arrested-in-mogadishu-over-terror-activities/).
Mohamud was then able to travel to the US, meeting with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Presidential National Security Advisor Sullivan and Secretary of State in Washington to discuss terrorism and support for the Somali transition, including countering famine. Other official meetings include one with World Bank President Malpass and one with International Monetary Fund President Georgieva, to discuss Somali debt (https://shabellemedia.com/somalia-presents-the-debt-relief-plan-at-the-imf-hqs/).
Mohamud will then travel to New York for the UN General Assembly, and it is significant that he arrives there in the wake of a heated controversy with Eritrean President Afwerki. Mohamud has reiterated allegations concerning the dossier of Somali recruits who arrived in Asmara for a training course and were held here for a long time. Mohamud does not hesitate now to refer to Afwerki’s refusal to allow the soldiers to return home, for purely political reasons. We are not yet at the breaking point, but the tone of the bilateral relationship tends to worsen.
Domestically, on the other hand, the equally strong statement towards Somaliland holds sway. Mohamud reiterated that he will not accept further unilateral moves towards secession. The Somali President appears to be taking advantage of a certain weakening of external support for Somaliland’s cause also due to local heavy-handed actions against the opposition. It is possible that Mohamud is speaking to Somaliland’s President Bihi so that the other counterparts in the regional states can also understand. Having been singled out, Bihi’s reaction is said to have been “furious” (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/somaliland-leader-reacts-furiously-to-remarks-by-somali-president-on-regions-independence/).