This report examines the security dynamics in Somalia during President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s tenure from May 2022 to May 2024, with a particular focus on the trends in Al-Shabab attacks and the effectiveness of allied operations. It provides a comprehensive analysis of data on various types of incidents, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), raids, ambushes, assassinations, grenade attacks, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs), shelling, and person-borne improvised explosive devices (PBIEDs). The report also explores internal security issues such as infighting among security forces and the impact of government policies on clan rivalries and civilian protection.

During the period from 2020 to 2021, the frequency of Al-Shabab attacks across various categories remained relatively stable or exhibited a slight decline. However, this trend reversed dramatically during the 2022-2023 period. Notably, the number of raids conducted by Al-Shabab surged by 75%, from an average of 280 per year in 2020-2021 to 490 per year in 2022-2023. This sharp rise indicates a strategic shift towards more aggressive and direct confrontations, underscoring the group’s enhanced operational capacity. Similarly, the use of IEDs saw a substantial increase, with incidents rising by 50%, from an average of 166.5 per year in 2020-2021 to 249.5 per year in 2022-2023. This surge highlights Al-Shabab’s continued reliance on asymmetric warfare tactics designed to inflict maximum damage while minimizing its own casualties. Other categories of attacks, such as ambushes, grenade attacks, and VBIEDs, also saw increases, albeit more modest compared to raids and IEDs.

The frequency of allied operations, including airstrikes and raids by Somali National Army (SNA) special forces, showed a slight increase during President Mohamud’s tenure. However, the effectiveness of these operations in significantly degrading Al-Shabab’s operational capacity and territorial control remains questionable. Airstrikes by the United States and raids by SNA special forces increased, but these efforts did not result in a notable reduction in Al-Shabab’s activities. The group’s ability to adapt to these tactics and maintain its operational cohesion suggests limited impact from these measures.

Infighting among security forces and incidents of security forces targeting civilians have increased during President Mohamud’s tenure. The number of incidents involving security forces killing civilians rose by 47%, from 36 in 2020 to 53 in 2023. Clan infighting has also escalated dramatically, with incidents increasing by 163%, from 41 in 2020 to 108 in 2023. This surge can be attributed to the government’s policy of arming clan militias to counter Al-Shabab, which has inadvertently exacerbated existing clan rivalries.

President Mohamud’s administration has faced significant political challenges, including mishandling the constitutional amendment process and deteriorating relationships with key regional allies. These issues have further strained the government’s capacity to address security and economic challenges effectively. The lack of accountability and oversight in military operations, combined with widespread corruption and mismanagement within the security forces, has undermined the effectiveness of counter-insurgency efforts.

To address these challenges, it is essential to improve coordination and integration among various security agencies, including the SNA, police forces, and intelligence agencies, to enhance the effectiveness of counter-insurgency operations. Better cooperation between the federal government and regional states is also crucial to addressing the security challenges cohesively. Implementing stronger accountability and oversight mechanisms within the security forces can help address issues of misconduct and improve relations with the civilian population. Establishing effective mechanisms to hold perpetrators of civilian harm accountable and ensuring transparency in military operations is vital.

Reassessing the policy of arming clan militias and developing strategies to mitigate the risks of exacerbating clan rivalries is necessary. Promoting inclusive dialogue and reconciliation efforts can help address the root causes of inter-clan violence. Developing a comprehensive security strategy that goes beyond military means, incorporating economic development, political reforms, and community engagement, is essential to address the underlying drivers of instability. Increased international support and collaboration are also needed to bolster counter-insurgency efforts, including intelligence sharing, capacity building, and targeted assistance for security sector reforms.

This report underscores the complexity of the security landscape in Somalia and highlights the need for a multifaceted approach to effectively combat Al-Shabab and restore stability. The findings and recommendations aim to provide a roadmap for enhancing security operations and addressing the broader challenges facing the country.

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