The Somali Army further advanced against Al Shabaab terrorists in Middle Shabelle (https://shabellemedia.com/somali-troops-seize-control-of-several-villages-from-al-shabaab/); several villages there are now controlled by Federal Forces. A Kenyan air force raid hit the South instead, causing no casualties but killing several cattle. Side effects on the population may erode support against terrorism.
In this context, US Ambassador Andre’s appeal to the local clans to support the military actions instead, while at the same time claiming their eminently ‘Somali’ character for the first time (https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2022/Oct/188288/us_ambassador_calls_on_somali_clans_to_cooperate_in_battle_against_al_shabaab.aspx), is relevant. Despite the positive results, full support for the fight against the insurgency cannot yet be said to have been achieved.
The Al Shabaab counterattack with car bombs that exploded in Hiraan and claimed at least 20 victims (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/officials-among-at-least-20-killed-after-blasts-rock-two-towns-in-central-somalia/) shows the current difficulties. There is a certain confusion on the part of the Authorities, with leading politicians who do not hesitate to suggest draconian measures both against the relatives of the terrorists and against the citizens and businessmen who still submit to the extortion demands of the Al Shabaab followers (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/somali-regional-governor-orders-troops-to-kill-wives-and-mothers-of-al-shabaab-fighters/). Such intentions show how complex the picture remains, beyond the mere accounting of conquered villages.
Also significant is the progress in the discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), talks organised in Nairobi after those held in Washington. A preliminary agreement has now been reached on the cancellation of some USD 10 million in debt, which must go through the IMF Board, and which is based on Mogadishu’s renewed commitment to proceed with reforms and greater transparency. Finance Minister Nor says he is satisfied with the progress and confident of support in a difficult period (https://www.infoafrica.it/2022/10/19/cancellazione-debito-ministro-finanze-ottimista/).
The international media focus mainly on the effects of the continuing drought and the resulting food shortage (https://www.voanews.com/a/un-food-agency-warns-somalia-near-full-blown-famine/6800995.html).
Somalia is reportedly now ‘on the brink’ of famine, although there are no official statements on this yet. The government reiterates its commitment in this regard as well.
The news of the signing of an agreement for the exploration of hydrocarbons in seven offshore blocks with the US-based company Coastline Exploration (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/somalia-signs-oil-exploration-agreement-for-seven-blocks/) was also widely reported. This is the finalisation of the February agreement.
No details are yet available as to which areas will be awarded and which exploration programme Coastline will eventually adopt (https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2022/Oct/188346/somalia_signs_major_oil_exploration_agreement_with_coastline.aspx), but the step forward is described as a hint of normalcy, crucial in President Mohamud’s plan for normalisation and economic growth (https://www.radiodalsan.com/en/77961/2022/10/somalia-open-for-business-as-president-throws-his-support-at-major-oil-exploration-agreement/).