War in Somalia (2009–present)

War in Somalia (2009–present)
Part of the Somali Civil War and the War on Terror
Somali Civil War (2009-present).svg
Military situation in Somalia on 22 May 2016
   Under control of the Government and Allies
   Under control of Al-Shabaab and Allies
   Under control of Somaliland Government
   Under control of neutral forces (Khatumo State)

(For a more detailed map of the current military situation, see here)

Date 31 January 2009 – present
(7 years, 10 months and 4 days)
Location Somalia, Northeastern Kenya




Hizbul Islam (2009–2010)

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (from 2015)[1][2]

 Federal Republic of Somalia


 United States[5] Supported by:
 United Kingdom[6]

Non-combat support:
 European Union[7]

Commanders and leaders

Ahmad Umar
(Emir of al-Shabaab)
Fuad Qalaf (former)
Abu Mansur (former)
Moktar Ali Zubeyr 
Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki Surrendered
Mohamed Said Atom Surrendered
Ibrahim Haji Jama Mee'aad  Executed[11]
Hassan Dahir Aweys  Surrendered
Omar Iman (former)
Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki 
Abu Musa Mombasa (former)
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan 
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed 

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abdul Qadir Mumin

Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
(President of Somalia)
Somalia Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke
(Prime Minister of Somalia)
Somalia Mohamed Sheikh Hassan
(Minister of Defense)
Somalia Abdullahi Anod
(Chief of the Army)
Somalia Omar Hashi Aden  
(Former Minister of Security)
Djibouti Osman Noor Soubagleh
(Force Commander of AMISOM)[12]
Ethiopia Abreha Tesfay
(Deputy Force Commander of AMISOM)
Burundi Cyprien Ndikuriyo
(AMISOM Chief of Staff)
Ahmed Mohamed Islam
(President of Jubaland, Chairman of the Raskamboni Movement)
Sheikh Ibrahim Sheikh Hassan
(Chairman of Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a)
Puntland Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
(President of Puntland)
Galmudug Abdi Hasan Awale Qeybdiid
(President of Galmudug)

Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden
(President of Southwestern Somalia)




Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant 200–300[15]

Somalia 18,000–36,000[16]
United States 200–300[5]

<1,000 (2010)[19]

Casualties and losses
8,016 killed (by 2012)[20]
5 killed[21][22][23]
Somalia 756 killed, 367 wounded (by October 2012)[24]
3,000+ killed[25][26][27][28]
3 killed, 3 wounded
66+ killed
Puntland 17+ killed, 40 wounded
Ethiopia 8 killed (before joining AMISOM)

4,365 killed in 2015[29]

Jan 2009 – Oct 2012:
4,093[30][31]–6,310[32][33][34] killed
10,938 wounded[30][31]

1,400,000+ civilians displaced[35]

1. Sheikh Omar Iman Abubakr was leader of Hizbul Islam until 26 May 2009, when he stepped down and handed over his position to Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.[36]


Situation of the war in Somalia back in mid-July 2009.

The 2009–present phase of the Somali Civil War is concentrated in southern Somalia. It began in early February 2009, with the conflict between the forces of the Federal Government of Somalia assisted by African Union peacekeeping troops and various militant Islamist groups and factions. The violence has displaced thousands of people in the southern part of the country. The conflict has also seen sectarian violence between the moderate Sufis ASWJ, and the Islamists Al-Shabaab.

On 16 October 2011, the Kenyan Army crossed the border into Somalia in Operation Linda Nchi against Al-Shabaab.[37] It aimed to seize Kismayo and set up a buffer zone against Al-Shabaab. A year later, Kismayo was captured.

In August 2014, the Somali government-led Operation Indian Ocean was launched to clean up the remaining insurgent-held pockets in the countryside.[38]



Established in 2004 and internationally recognized, the Transitional Federal Government's (TFG) support in Somalia was waning until the United States-backed 2006 intervention by the Ethiopian military, which helped drive out the rival Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu and solidify the TFG's rule.[39] Following this defeat, the ICU splintered into several different factions. Some of the more radical elements, including Al-Shabaab, regrouped to continue their insurgency against the TFG and oppose the Ethiopian military's presence in Somalia. Throughout 2007 and 2008, Al-Shabaab scored military victories, seizing control of key towns and ports in both central and southern Somalia. At the end of 2008, the group had captured Baidoa but not Mogadishu. By January 2009, Al-Shabaab and other militias had managed to force the Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the country, leaving behind an underequipped African Union (AU) peacekeeping force.[40] A power sharing deal ensued between an Islamist splinter group led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia Djibouti faction (ARS-D) and TFG Prime Minister Nur Hassan in Djibouti. Al-Shabaab, which had separated from the moderate Islamists of the insurgency, rejected the peace deal and continued to take territories. It was joined by Hizbul Islam, which is an amalgamation of four Islamist group including the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia – Asmara faction. Another Islamist group, Ahlu Sunnah Waljama'ah, which was allied with the TFG and supported by Ethiopia, continues to attack al-Shabaab and take over towns as well although they have been effective only in the central region of Galguduud, where they ousted al-Shabaab from most of the region.[41][42][43]

After the parliament took in 275 officials from the moderate Islamist opposition, ARS leader Sheikh Ahmed was elected TFG President on 31 January 2009.[44] Since then, the al-Shabaab radical Islamists have accused the new TFG President of accepting the secular transitional government and have continued the civil war since he arrived in Mogadishu at the presidential palace in early February 2009.[45]


Islamist-ARS/TFG coalition conflict

On 4 February 2009, four Islamist groups, including Hassan Dahir Aweys' Eritrean branch of the ARS merged and created the group Hisbi Islam, to fight the new government of Sharif Ahmed. Al-Shabaab also vowed to fight the government.[46] On 8 February 2009, they declared war on the new government of Sharif Ahmed and the AU peace-keepers.[47]

New TFG President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed arrived in Mogadishu as a president for the first time on 7 February 2009. The al-Shabaab and other radical Islamists began firing at the new TFG president hours later. They accused the new President of accepting the secular transitional government.[48]

On 8 February, heavy fighting broke out in southern Mogadishu.[49] al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur). met with Sharif Ahmed for peace talks during his visit to Mogadishu, while Omar Iman rejected the president.[50] During these negotiations, Sharif Ahmed said that he would be prepared to enforce Sharia Law in Somalia, which is now the radical groups' main demand.[51] However, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a former Al-Shabab spokesman,[52] denied having talked to Sharif Ahmed and vowed to continue fighting until his demands for Sharia Law were met. Sheikh Mukhtar Robow warned Nigeria against sending peace keepers to Somalia, as al-Shabaab views the AU peace keepers as occupying forces and will continue fighting them until they withdraw from the country.[53]

On 10 February, al-Shabaab launched an offensive to take the Bakool province. Government officials who had been ousted from Baidoa had been amassing troops in the city of Hudur (Xudur) and planning a major offensive to re-take Baidoa. Islamist forces attacked the province and reached the capital where they started a battle against government forces.[54][55] In Galmudug, Clan militia took the town of Masagaway from al-Shabaab. There was also fighting in Warsheekh.[56]

On 12 February, the spokesman for al-Shabaab, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur), rebuffed reports from several media outlets that a mutual agreement between him and newly elected president Sharif Ahmed was made. He also added that he had no intention to contact the president on any matters, and that they would continue fighting against foreign troops and what he described as an "apostate" government.[57] The same day, they vowed war against the new government.[58]

On 22 February, a double suicide bomb attack on an AU base in Mogadishu left 11 Burundian soldiers dead and another 15 wounded. Two days later heavy fighting erupted in the city as TFG and AU forces attempted to retake the city from radical Islamist forces. The fighting lasted for two days and killed 87 people, including: 48 civilians, 15 insurgents and 6 TFG policemen.

At the same time as the fighting raged in Mogadishu, al-Shabaab forces took the town of Hudor, to the north-west, in fighting that killed another 20 people: 10 TFG soldiers, 6 insurgents and 4 civilians.

On 28 February, it appeared that Hisbi Islam would sign a ceasefire with the Transitional Federal Government.[59] However, by 1 March, it was clear that no ceasefire would be given, despite President Sharif Ahmed having agreed to proposals for a truce and having offered to accept the implementation of Sharia Law but refused to move troops from civilian areas despite the Islamists doing so.[60][61]

On 6 May, al-Shabaab announced that it would continue the war even if AMISOM withdrew.[62]

25 May, the government announced an immediate blockade on airstrips and seaports under insurgent control to stop the flow of weapons reaching them.[63]

On 7 May, a fierce battle for control of Mogadishu started between al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam against the TFG. Hundreds were killed and injured and tens of thousands were displaced. By 11 May, rebel forces gained the upper hand and made large gains taking over most of the capital. Fighting continued until 14 May and, though they came close, the rebels didn't manage to overthrow the government. There were new rounds of fighting all through August.

16 May, al-Shabaab captured the strategic town of Jowhar, which connects Mogadishu with central Somalia.[64]

Main article: Battle of Wabho

5 June, Hizbul Islam captured Wabho in one of the largest battles of the war, which left 123 combatants killed. It was also rumoured Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was injured in this battle.[65][66]

On 19 June, the transitional parliament speaker Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nuur Madobe asked the international community to send foreign troops to Somalia within the following 24 hours. He stated that the government's power is on the verge of being defeated by Islamist forces in the Somali capital.[67] The Cabinet declared a state of emergency[68] and Somalia asked for help from neighbors Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen.[69] Ethiopia refused saying intervention needs an international mandate.[69] On 21 June, a spokesman for the al-Shabaab Islamists said they would fight any foreign troops.[70] al-Qaeda also made threats against Kenyan intervention.[71]

22 June, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed declared state of emergency in the country as a new round of fighting in Mogadishu left 12 dead and 20 injured. Hundreds were said to be fleeing the city[72] 4 July, Sheik Abdinasir Jalil, a former commander of the training for ICU administration in Beledweyn town joined Hizbul Islam with his men and vowed to fight TFG forces in the city and attack Ethiopian forces in El-gal village, which lies 18 km from Beledweyn. He said that the government officials want to bring Ethiopian troops inside town and that is the reason they switched sides. Former ICU officials who joined Hizbul Islam, held a press conference and announced that the ICU administration in Hiraan had collapsed as they joined the insurgents.[73] Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf, a top security commander in Beledweyn, also defected along with his forces. General Muktar Hussein Afrah was sent to Beledweyn along with TFG troops and put in charge there by the TFG as the ICU administration had collapsed.[74] Many ICU officials including MPs resigned that day next to Sheikh Abdinasir Jalil Ahmed (head of training) and Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf (head of security); Sheik Osman Abdulle Barqadle, the army commander of Ugas Khalif airport, and Sheik Abdullahi Garamgaram, the deputy chief of the emergency forces also resigned.[75]

In response, TFG forces led by general Muktar Hussein Afrah started military manoeuvers in the East side of the city.[76]

6 July, Sheikh Moktar Ali Zubeyr, the Amir of al-Shabaab gave government forces an ultimatum of 5 days to hand over their weapons. The ultimatum was rejected by Indho Ade.[77]

17 July, two French security advisors to the government were captured by insurgents.[78] The Somali government gave permission for French commandos to launch operations inside Somalia to free the 2 French nationals that held by al-Shabaab.[79] On 22 July, French warships and helicopters were seen near the ports of Mogadishu and Marka as France declared they would undertake military operations to free the two French military advisers who had been captured by insurgents.[80] One hostage, Marc Aubriere, escaped a month later in August 2009.[81][82] The second, Denis Allex, was seen in a video released in June 2010 asking for assistance to effect his release.[83]

On 15 September, a helicopter raid conducted by the US military killed 6, including a key Al-Qaida member, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.[84]

Al-Shabaab-Hizbul Islam conflict

The armed conflict between Hizbul Islam and al-Shabaab began due to a dispute between the faction of the Ras Kamboni Brigades led by Sheikh Ahmed "Madoobe" and al-Shabaab,[85] over a power sharing agreement in Kisimayo. Hizbul Islam and al-Shabaab had made a power sharing agreement for the city, where the power would rotate between the two factions, with each faction controlling the city for periods of six months. However, due to clan politics al-Shabaab refused to let the power rotation take place.[86] This led to internal problems within Hizbul Islam as its ARS-A and JABISO factions, which were aligned with al-Shabaab in Hiran and Mogadishu, refused to support the Ras Kamboni Brigades, while Anole remained neutral. It also led to a split within the Ras Kamboni Brigades, with a faction led by Hizbul Islam's deputy chairman Sheikh Hassan "Turki" refusing to back Ahmad "Madoobe" and instead siding with al-Shabaab.[85]

On 1 October, heavy fighting broke out. By the afternoon, al-Shabaab controlled most of the city with dozens of casualties reported.[87] At least 17 people were killed in a series of battles overnight on 5 October.[88] A Hizbul Islam spokesman claimed that they had captured foreign fighters in the battle.[89] The battle was decisively won by al-Shabaab which expelled Madbobe's Ras Kamboni Brigade forces from the city.[90]

Throughout November 2009, fighting between the two factions continued in Southern Somalia[85] and as a result insurgent attacks in Mogadishu targeting TFG and AMISOM forces decreased.[88] However Sheikh Ahmad Madobe's forces were soon overpowered by al-Shabaab and its local allies and forced to withdraw from the Lower Jubba region and most of Southern Somalia.[85][90] In February 2010, Sheikh Hassan Turki's branch of the Ras Kamboni Brigades declared a merge with al-Shabaab.[85] He encouraged other groups in Hizbul Islam to also join al-Shabaab.[91]

In early 2010 the two groups clashed in Hiran region, in central Somalia. This battle was also won by al-Shabaab which took control of the region.[92] In late 2010 they also expelled Hizbul Islam from Bay region after seizing control of Bur Hakab, after a two days battle in which 30 militants were killed.[93][94] In Lower Shabelle region al-Shabaab seized control of Hizbul Islam strongholds: Furuqley, Farsooley and Dugulle villages and then started preparing an offensive in Afgooye, the last town Hizbul Islam controlled in the region.[95] Soon after Hizbul Islam was forced to surrender the Luuq District in Gedo region to al-Shabaab, after which it was announced that Hizbul Islam would merge with al-Shabaab. From mid-December al-Shabaab fighters started taking over Hizbul Islam positions.[96] Hizbul Islam fighters also started entering al-Shabaab controlled areas of Mogadishu.[93] The merge was confirmed on 20 December, when Hizbul Islam Chairman Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and Sheikh Mohammad Osman Arus, the organisation's official spokesman, surrendered to al-Shabaab and disbanded the organisation.[93]

Galmudug and Islamists

Government officials from the Galmudug administration in the north-central Hobyo district also reportedly attempted to use pirate gangs as a bulwark against Islamist insurgents from southern Somalia's conflict zones.[97] Other pirates are alleged to have reached agreements of their own with the Islamist groups, although a senior commander from the Hizbul Islam militia vowed to eradicate piracy by imposing sharia law when his group briefly took control of Harardhere in May 2010 and drove out the local pirates.[97][98]

Battle of Gashandiga

An early 2011 offensive was dubbed by AU Representative Wafula Wamunyinyi as the "Battle of Gashandiga."[99]

On 20 February 2011, it was reported that AMISOM troops destroyed a large complex of al-Shabaab trenches, and killed six al-Shabaab commanders in Mogadishu. Two AMISOM troops died in those battles.[100]

On 21 February, at least 20 people, including TFG policemen were killed in a suicide car bomb attack in Mogadishu.[101]

Between 21 and 22 February, twelve people were killed in heavy shelling in Mogadishu.[102]

On 25 February, 15 people were killed as al-Shabaab fighters attempted to re-take lost territory in Mogadishu. Additionally, rebels displayed one wounded and five dead Burundian AMISOM soldiers.[103]

On 26 February, an offensive by TFG troops with support of Ethiopian soldiers was opened in the southern Somali town of Bula Hawo. Until 28 February, 33 people were killed in TFG and Ethiopian shelling.

By 5 March, AMISOM and TFG forces claimed to control seven of the city's districts, while six were contested and three were controlled by anti-government forces. Al-Shabaab responded to the government offensive by putting up roadblocks to prevent the movement of goods from the seaport. This adversely affected both sides of the conflict, as the TFG controlled the port and its profits, while the Bakaara Market, where many of the goods were bound to be sold, was controlled by the insurgents.[99] It was reported that by 5 March, up to 53 AMISOM may have died in the clashes. Of those, 43 Burundian and 10 Ugandan.[104]

By 16 March, AMISOM was bolstered by an additional 1,000 peacekeepers to assist in the TFG's renewed offensive against al-Shabaab, bringing the total manpower of AMISOM to nearly 9,000.[105]

Defeat of Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu

For main article see Battle of Mogadishu (2010–11)

On 6 August 2011, the Transitional Federal Government's troops and their AMISOM allies managed to capture all of Mogadishu from the Al-Shabaab militants. Witnesses reported Al-Shabaab vehicles abandoning their bases in the capital for the south-central city of Baidoa. The group's spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage described the exodus as a tactical retreat, and vowed to continue the insurgency against the national government. Observers have suggested that the pullout may at least in part have been caused by internal ideological rifts in the rebel organization.[8]

After their withdrawal, al-Shabaab has however continued hit and run tactics in the North of the city as they vowed to continue guerilla attacks in Mogadishu.[106] On 4 October 2011, a suicide bomb on a lorry detonated and killed more than 70 people near a compound housing several government ministries. Two weeks later a car bomb killed at least two people.[107]

On 11 October 2011, AU troops claimed to have driven the remnants of al-Shabaab out of the city.[108] As of November 2012, Mogadishu was still firmly in AMISOM and TFG hands, although the city continued to suffer from suicide bomb attacks.[109]

Fighting in Puntland

On 2 to 3 September, fighting was reported in Puntland that resulted in the deaths of up to 60 people, including 8 Puntland soldiers and 40 Al-Shabaab militants, with Insurgents being repelled.[110][111] Al-Shabaab claimed on 7 September that they have captured 2 Kenyan troops who were on a surveillance mission near the Kenyan-Somalian Border.[112] Puntland forces captured 18 members of Al-Shabaab in counter-terrorism operations on 8 September.[113]

Battle of Elwaq

Main article: Battle of Elwaq

Al-Shabaab attacked the southern town of Elwaq on 10 September 2011, resulting in the deaths of 12 insurgents and soldiers.[114] The next day, Somali troops fought back, retaking the town after militants fled on captured technicals.[114] The bodies of 30 militants were later found, some of them children.[114] Conversely, Al-Shabaab claimed they killed around 70 government aligned troops and captured 10 technicals.[114]

The Burundian military lost 51 soldiers in October, causing anger among Burundians, who believe that their country is sacrificing too much. Many Burundians have urged other AU members to contribute troops to the Somalia mission. Nigeria, Djibouti, and Guinea have indicated sending troops, but all have yet to contribute.[115]

Kismayo offensive

On 4 September 2012 the Kenyan Navy shelled Kismayo. This was part of an AU offensive to capture the city from al-Shabab fighters. The harbour was shelled two times and the airport three times. According to a UN report the export of charcoal through Kismayo is a major source of income for al-Shabab.[116]

On 28 September 2012, the Somali National Army assisted by AMISOM troops and Ras Kamboni militia launched an assault on Kismayo, Al-Shabaab's last major stronghold. The allied forces reportedly managed to re-capture much of the city from the insurgents.[117][118]

Operation Indian Ocean

In August 2014, the Somali government-led Operation Indian Ocean was launched to clean up the remaining insurgent-held pockets in the countryside.[38] On 1 September 2014, a U.S. drone strike carried out as part of the broader mission killed Al-Shabaab leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr.[119] U.S. authorities hailed the raid as a major symbolic and operational loss for Al-Shabaab, and the Somali government offered a 45-day amnesty to all moderate members of the militant group. Political analysts also suggested that the insurgent commander's death will likely lead to Al-Shabaab's fragmentation and eventual dissolution.[120]

Operation Jubba Corridor

At the end of the month of July 2015, AMISOM and Somalia National Army regained many villages and major towns of Baardhere and Dinsoor.[121]

Battle of El Adde and resurgence of Al Shabaab

On 15 January 2016, Al Shabaab attacked a Kenyan-run AMISOM base in El Adde Somalia, overrunning the compound and killing over 120 soldiers. Al Shabaab then regained the important town of Marka, 45 km from the capital, and the port of Gard in Puntland region (March 2016). The resurgence of Al Shabaab could entail serious implications for the humanitarian sector.[122]

On 12 May 2016, a small group of U.S. military advisers accompanied some Ugandan soldiers during a raid on an illegal taxation checkpoint just west of Mogadishu, when the Ugandans came under fire from 15-20 al Shabaab militants, the U.S. commander on the ground called in a "defensive" airstrike, killing five militants and wounding two more.[123] two days previously, the U.S. provided helicopters and advise and assist in support of a Somali military mission against a group of al Shabaab militants, which one defense official said was also defensive because they had intelligence that the al Shabaab fighters were planning an attack on the AMISOM installation nearby. No word on how many al Shabaab were killed or wounded in that operation.[123]

On the night of 31 May 2016, two senior Al-Shabaab operatives; Mohamud Dulyadeyn, the plotter behind the Garissa University attack in April 2015 and Maalim Daud, head of Al-Shabaab's intelligence hit squads and another 16 members from Al-Shabaab were killed by the Somali National Army and anti-terror partners. Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza told CNN "U.S. forces supported this Somali-led operation in an advise-and-assist role,".[124][125]

On 1 June 2016, Al Shabaab militants attacked with a car bomb on the gate of Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia. At least 15 people have been killed in the attack, among 10 civilian pedestrians and two members of parliament near the gate.[126]

Foreign involvement

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

See Main AMISOM article

The African Union has deployed more than 16,000 soldiers to Somalia, mandated to support transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the Somali security forces, and assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid.[127] As part of its duties, AMISOM also supports the Transitional Federal Government's forces in their battle against Al-Shabaab militants.

AMISOM was created by the African Union's Peace and Security Council on 19 January 2007 with an initial six month mandate.[128] On 21 February 2007 the United Nations Security Council approved the mission's mandate.[129] Subsequent six-monthly renewals of AMISOM's mandate by the African Union Peace and Security Council have also been authorised by the United Nations Security Council.[130][131]

AMISOM's UN mandate was extended for a further six months in August 2008 by UNSCR 1831.[132][133] The AMISOM’s mandate has been extended each period that it has been up for review. It is now set to be reviewed again on 16 January 2013.[134]

On 12 November 2013, the UN Security Council adopted SC Resolution 2124 (2013) extending AMISOM's mandate from 28 February 2014 to 31 October 2014. Acting upon the force's request, the resolution also increases AMISOM's maximum authorized strength from 17,731 to 22,126 troops.[135]

The force, which has been reportedly engaged in fighting in Mogadishu and throughout the country, has reportedly suffered significant casualties during their mission, although no precise figures have been issued by the contributing countries.[136]

United States and UN

The United National Development Program for Somalia spends about $50 million each year,[137] though these funds are not related to military aid. Instead these programs, such as Employment Generation for Early Recovery (EGER).[138] As of October 2010, the U.S. State Department noted the United States directly obligated over $229 million to support AMISOM, and paid for other UN assistance for the mission indirectly through its obligations to the international body.[139]

In January 2013, the U.S. announced that it was set to exchange diplomatic notes with the new central government of Somalia, re-establishing official ties with the country for the first time in 20 years. According to the Department of State, the decision was made in recognition of the significant progress that the Somali authorities had achieved on both the political and war fronts. The move is expected to grant the Somali government access to new sources of development funds from American agencies as well as international bodies like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, thereby facilitating the ongoing reconstruction process.[140][141] In addition to diplomatic ties; roughly 50 U.S. special operations troops operate at undisclosed locations across southern Somalia advising and assisting, Kenyan, Somali and Ugandan forces in their fight against Al-Shabaab.[142]

At the behest of the Somali and American federal governments, among other international actors, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 2093 during its 6 March 2013 meeting to suspend the 21-year arms embargo on Somalia. The endorsement officially lifts the purchase ban on light weapons for a provisional period of one year, but retains certain restrictions on the procurement of heavy arms such as surface-to-air missiles, howitzers and cannons.[143] On April 9, 2013, the U.S. government likewise approved the provision of defense articles and services by the American authorities to the Somali Federal Government.[144] At the request of the Somali authorities and AMISOM, the U.S. military in late 2013 also established a small team of advisers in Mogadishu to provide consultative and planning support to the allied forces.[145]

The United Kingdom is also involved in combating Islamist terrorists in Somalia, since 2009, members of the Special Air Service and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment have been deployed to Camp Lemonnier to conduct counter-terrorist operations against Islamist terrorists in Somalia; they have carrying out surveillance missions of Britons believed to be travelling to Somalia for terrorist training and they are also working with US counterparts observing and "targeting" local terror suspects. They have also been carrying out a similar role in Yemen.[146][147] In May 2016, it was reported that 70 UK military personnel are have arrived in Somalia to counter Al-Shabaab as part of a UN peacekeeping mission; 10 soldiers will offer medical, engineering and logistical support to AMISOM. Personnel will also be sent to South Sudan to carry out a similar role.[6]

On 16 October 2016, the New York times reported that American officials said the White House had quietly broadened the president’s authority for the use of force in Somalia by allowing airstrikes to protect American and African troops as they combat fighters from al-Shabaab. About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone strikes. SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations. American military officials said once ground operations are complete, American troops working with Somali forces often interrogate prisoners at temporary screening facilities, including one in Puntland, before the detainees are transferred to more permanent Somali-run prisons. The Pentagon has only acknowledged a small fraction of these operations, announcing 13 ground raids and airstrikes so far in 2016 (3 of which took place in September) — up from 5 in 2015; according to data compiled by New America (a Washington Think tank) the strikes have killed about 25 civilians and 200 people suspected of being militants. At a former Russian fighter jet base in Baledogle, U.S. Marines and private contractors are working to build up a Somali military unit designed to combat Al-Shabaab throughout the country.[148]




Area of Ethiopian operations in Somalia since their official withdrawal in January 2009.

On 16 February, Somali MP Mohamud Sayid Adan, former Mogadishu mayor Mohamed Omar Habeeb and local police officer Hassan Dhicisow, were arrested by Ethiopian forces in the town of Dolow in Gedo region.[149]

On 28 May, 2 Ethiopian soldiers, 1 Ethiopian civilian, 2 Somali soldiers, 4 Somali civilians (working for the government) and 4 Somali insurgents were killed when insurgents attacked a convoy carrying Omar Hashi Aden, who was returning from his visit to Ethiopia.[150]

On 31 May, Ethiopian forces launched search and seizure operations in Hiraan, in Kalaberyr village, near Beledweyn.[151]

On 12 June, Ethiopian forces with several battle wagons entered in Balanbal town in Galgudud and set up military bases.[152]

On 14 June, the Ethiopian military said it had come to fight foreign mujahedin which the military described as "foreign enemies of Ethiopia and Somalia" and launched operations to search for them in Balanbal town which they control.[153] Sheik Hassan Ya'qub Ali, head of the information affairs for Islamic administration in Kisimayo warned the Ethiopians that "there is no candy and dates to eat from here in Somalia. But the men who chased you forcibly from the country are here in Somalia."[154]

The suicide bombing on 18 June targeted a meeting between TFG and Ethiopian commanders.[155]

On 19 June, Ethiopian forces entered Bakool and reached Elberde town. They withdrew after holding talks with local clan elders.[156]

22 June, Ethiopian forces started launching search and seizure operations in Kala-beyrka intersection in Hiran region.[157]

The Ethiopian government then announced it would not intervene without an international mandate.[69]

30 June, Ethiopian forces entered El-gal and Ilka'adde villages which are less than 20 km north of regional capital Beledweyn. Reports from Kala-beyrka intersection say that more extra troops from Ethiopia crossed from the border.[158]

4 July, Ethiopians withdrew from their bases in Banabal town in Galgudug.[159]

18 July, Ethiopian forces vacated their bases in Yed Village in insurgent-controlled Bakool region.[160]

During the weekend of 29–30 August, Ethiopian forces advanced to Beledweyne, supporting a government offensive on the insurgent part of, Beledweyne. They withdrew on 31 August. The assault on Beledweyne by government forces came as the TFG governor of Hiraan (belonging to Sharif Ahmed's ARS-Djibouti faction), Sheikh Abdirahman Ibrahim Ma'ow, which controls the other part of Beledweyne, withdrew his administration's support for the TFG.[161]


19 March, Mohammed wali Odowa, spokesman of Hizbul Islam's Hiraan administration in Beledweyne, threatened that Hizbul Islam forces would attack any Ethiopian forces which entered Hizbul Islam controlled territories in Hiraan.[162]

20 May, Ethiopian forces seized control of the previously al-Shabaab held towns of Yeed and Elbarde, in Bakool region.[163] Al-Shabaab had captured Elbarde from the TFG on 20 April.[164]

On 18 July, Ethiopian forces withdrew from all their bases in Hiraan and Bakool regions. Ethiopian forces had held these territories for two months, during which they clashed several times with al-Shabaab forces which control most of Hiraan. Before they withdrew they released over 20 lorries which used to travel between the South and Central regions of Somalia.[165]

On 1 August, 27,000 Ethiopian troops entered Somalia through the border town of Dolo, where 6,000 Ethiopian forces are based. They advanced deep into Gedo region in the direction of the towns of Beledehawa and Elwak, accompanied by militia of pro-Ethiopian, Somali fraction leaders.[166] In Hiraan, Ethiopian forces which entered along with TFG-forces exchanged fire with al-Shabaab militants and advanced until the Kalaber junction, near Beledweyne. The Ethiopian troops then withdrew to Ferfer.[167]

On 29 August, there was a second Ethiopian incursion. A large number of Ethiopian forces in military vehicles, accompanied by highly trained TFG forces, entered several villages in al-Shabaab controlled Hiraan region. This came at a time when al-Shabaab militants regularly ventured near the border. Hussein Abdallah, an ASWJ loyalist claimed that the movements were a preliminary action to signal that Ethiopian authorities are able of weakening the Islamist insurgents, to al-Shabaab's leadership.[168]

On 1 September, Ethiopian forces moved deeper into Gedo region, via Dolow, entering the TFG-held village of Yeed. TFG officials in the region reported they were planning to capture the entire Bay and Bakool regions from al-Shabaab.[169]

On 30 December, TFG forces clashed with Ethiopian troops in the Jawil district, near Beledweyne, after Ethiopian forces took a TFG soldier into custody. One TFG soldier and one civilian were injured in the clashes.[170]


3 January, Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa official Sheikh Abdi Badel Sheikh Abdullahi, complained about Ethiopian forces in the town of Dolo, in Gedo region. The town is controlled by 300 ASWJ and TFG forces, but it is also home to several Ethiopian military bases. Ethiopian forces had called on ASWJ fighters in the district to lay down their arms. According to a TFG official, three Ethiopian commanders had then come to the town of Dolo and ordered TFG forces to disarm. Ethiopian troops then disarmed a number of TFG and ASWJ forces. Sheikh Abdullahi alleged that Ethiopian forces were doing this because they were outraged by ASWJ's military capability.[171][172]

On 19 November, eyewitness reported large number of Ethiopian troops crossing into Somalia. Ethiopian authorities denied this.[173]

After a multinational conference held on 25 November in Addis Ababa, IGAD announced that the Ethiopian government had agreed to support the allied forces' campaign against Al-Shabaab.[174]

On 31 December 2011, the Transitional Federal Government soldiers and around 3,000 allied Ethiopian army troops attacked Beledweyne in the early morning, capturing it after hours of fighting.[175] They later took control of Baidoa, among other areas.


On 22 October 2012, the Spokesman of African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) Col. Ali Aden Humed speaking to journalists in Mogadishu on Saturday said that Ethiopian forces present in parts of the regions of Somalia will soon pull out from the country. The spokesman said AMISOM troops will take over the areas where Ethiopian forces are holding at the moment. “The plan by AMISOM is to take over the positions held by Ethiopian forces in parts of the regions of the country, Ethiopian troops will soon retreat back to their position along Somalia border” said Col. Ali Aden Humed.[176]


In 2013, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom announced that Ethiopian troops were pulling out of Baidoa as the situation on the ground was relatively stable and the Somali military and AMISOM forces were now able to assume security duties. The withdrawal was well planned and coordinated. Adhanom added that a pullout could have occurred twelve months earlier, but the allied forces were at the time unprepared to take over, so the move was postponed. Additionally, he asserted that Eritrea was attempting to destabilize Somalia and environs, and that the international community should take the situation seriously since Eritrea was also still allegedly supporting Al-Shabaab.[177] Following the Westgate shooting in Nairobi by Al Shabaab operatives, the Ethiopian government halted its plans to withdraw completely out of Somalia.[178] In November 2013, the Ethiopian government announced that it would integrate its troops that are deployed in Somalia into the AMISOM multinational force. Somalia's Foreign Minister Fowzia Haji Yussuf welcomed the decision, stating that the move would galvanize AMISOM's campaign against the insurgent group. She also emphasized the importance of collaboration between Somalia and Ethiopia.[179] The Ethiopian authorities' announcement came a month after a failed October bombing attempt by Al-Shabaab in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, and a week after Ethiopia received a renewed terrorism threat from the insurgent group.[180] According to Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ambassador Dina Mufti, the Ethiopian military's decision to join AMISOM is intended to render the peacekeeping operation more secure.[181] Analysts also suggested that the move was primarily motivated by financial considerations, with the Ethiopian forces' operational costs now slated to be under AMISOM's allowance budget. It is believed that the Ethiopian military's long experience in Somali territory, its equipment such as helicopters, and the potential for closer coordination will help the allied forces advance their territorial gains.[182] On the other hand, there is a certain amount of unease following Ethiopia's entry into AMISOM given local animosity originating from Ethiopia's heavy handed intervention in 2006. There are also fears that Al Shabaab could use Somali animosity towards Ethiopia as a rallying cry and to recruit more members.[183] It is also believed that some Ethiopian troops in Somalia operate independently from AMISOM.[184]


In December 2014, the Ethiopian government offered to replace the last AMISOM contingent from Sierre Leone with fresh Ethiopian military reinforcements.[185]


In 2015, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), announced a new military operation against Al Shabaab, for removing it in the last strong holds in Somalia. The operation involved Ethiopian National Defence and Kenya Defence Forces too.

At the end of the month of July 2015, AMISOM and Somalia National Army regained many villages and major towns of Baardhere and Dinsoor.[121]


On 29 September 2016, a Somalian regional government demanded an explanation from the United States after an airstrike killed 22 civilians and other soldiers instead of the targeted al-Shabab militants in Galmudug.[186]


Recruitment from Kenya

According to press reports, Somali and Kenyan government officials have recruited and trained Somali refugees in Kenya and Kenyan nationals who are ethnic Somalis to fight insurgents in Somalia. However, the Somali chief of military staff and spokesmen from the Kenyan government have denied this.[187]

2010 Kenya-Al-Shabaab border clash

On 20 July 2010 border clashes between Kenya and Al-Shabaab insurgents occurred when gunmen from the militia attacked a Kenyan border patrol along the border area in Liboi, Lagdera. There was a subsequent fierce exchange of fire between the two sides leading to the deaths of 2 militia and the wounding of one Kenyan officer.[188] Hundreds of security personnel were later deployed to the border following the clash and because of continued fighting between two militia groups in the neighbouring town of Dobley, Somalia.[189] Al-Shabaab had previously claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in Uganda in July.[188]

Operation Linda Nchi

Main article: Operation Linda Nchi

In October 2011, the Kenya Defence Forces began Operation Linda Nchi against Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia.[190][191] The mission was officially led by the Somali army, with the Kenyan forces providing a support role.[190] In early June 2012, Kenyan forces were formally integrated into AMISOM.[192]

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