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Continued fighting


On 1 January 2007, the TFG said it had captured the ICU's last stronghold, Kismayo, after an Ethiopian artillery bombardment. Hard-line Somali Islamist leaders and their fighters abandoned the port city and were believed to retreat to a base near the Kenyan border. Witnesses in the southern port of Kismayo said several thousand Islamist fighters deserted their positions in the town of Jilib after Ethiopian artillery fire hit.

After the Islamists abandoned their key posts of Mogadishu, Kismayo, and other places, the TFG had control of southern Somalia. US officials believed al-Qaida figures might have joined leaders of the militia movement in flight from the capital, where only a rag-tag group of teenaged fighters had been left to confront the Ethiopians. The sudden collapse of the seemingly unstoppable ICU left Mogadishu and other former Islamist-held areas with a security vacuum. In response to looting in Mogadishu and Kismayo and to general insecurity, the TFG gave all militias and residents 3 days to voluntarily disarm or face disarmament by force.

A possible Ethiopian-led disarmament operation was seen as having the potential to cause further unrest as most Somalis remembered Ethiopia as an enemy from 2 prior major wars. Furthermore, it would reinforce suspicions that the TFG was acting as a puppet of Addis Ababa. Ethiopia's prime minister, likely with this concern in mind, said his troops could leave Somalia within a few weeks. He added that his troops would help the TFG stabilize the country, but he appealed to the international community to send peacekeepers promptly. His statement ran against previous assertions by the TFG that Ethiopia would stay for a few months. In January 2007, the African Union Peace and Security Council authorized the deployment of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) with 9 infantry battalions of 850 each, and the accompanying support elements. Despite the Ethiopian pledge and the authorization and deployment of AMISOM, beginning in February 2007, the last of the Ethopian forces departed Somalia only in January 2009.

Throughout the war, US warships already on-station for Operation Enduring Freedom monitored the Somalian coast to prevent Islamist leaders and fighters from escaping by sea. No significant refugee movements had been seen from the recent fighting. However, there were reports of people headed toward border areas, and, heavy flooding in the region made it difficult for people to move around.

On 5 January 2007 US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said that a stabilization force was urgently needed to avoid any more bloodshed. Frazer, who had met that day with EU and AU officials, also promised more US funding for the TFG. At the conclusion of the day's proceedings, Uganda became the first nation to announce a contingent of troops for a peacekeeping force.

On 5 January 2007, a video of a man believed to be Ayman al-Zawahri began appearing on jihadist websites. In the video, he urged Somalis and foreign fighters to use Iraqi- and Afghan-style suicide and roadside bombings to drive the Ethiopian troops out of Somalia. The message also identified Somalia as a sacred Muslim land. Islamist leaders said that their retreat was a tactical move and vowed to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war against Ethiopia and the interim government.

On 12 January 2007, Somalia's interim government reached an agreement with clan warlords to disarm their militias and join a new national army. The agreement was reached during talks between the warlords and President Abdullahi Yusuf in the capital of Mogadishu. However, while the talks were going on, government troops and militia forces loyal to clan warlord Mohamed Qanyare engaged in a gunfight outside the presidential residence. At least 5 people were killed and several others wounded.

On 13 January 2007, lawmakers in Somalia's transitional parliament authorized the government to impose martial law for a duration of 3 months. The 275-member parliament approved the measure during a session in the southern Somali town of Baidoa.

On 22 January 2007, one of the top leaders of the Somali Islamist movement was in US and Kenyan custody in Nairobi, 3 weeks after Somali government and Ethiopian troops ousted the Islamic Courts Union from power. US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger described Ahmed as a moderate leader, with whom the 2-year-old interim government could and should open a dialogue.

On 13 February 2007, Uganda's parliament approved sending 1,500 peacekeepers to Somalia. Faced with a worsening security situation in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the country's prime minister said a robust peacekeeping force was needed to stabilize the country.

On 12 March 2007, Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) said it would secure Mogadishu, the capital, in 30 days. However, the announcement came as violence and displacement continued unabated in the city.

On 13 March 2007, Somalia's interim parliament voted to move the interim government to Mogadishu, the capital, from its temporary seat in Baidoa, barely 3 months after Ethiopian-backed government forces ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from the city.

On 23 March 2007, a ceasefire had been reached in Somalia between a powerful clan and Ethiopian troops as fighting continued in the capital city of Mogadishu. Elders with the Hawiye clan said that both sides agreed to remove their forces away from the front lines.

On 26 April 2007, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi told reporters in Mogadishu his government, backed by Ethiopian troops, had taken control of insurgent strongholds. Mr. Gedi said most of the fighting in Mogadishu was over. The government urged the people to return to the city, however some residents believed that the government did not have complete control of the city and until it did, they would not return.

On 28 May 2007, elders of Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan issued preconditions they said should be met before the Somali interim government hosted a national reconciliation conference next month. The demands followed warnings from government officials that the conference might be delayed for the third time because donor nations had not provided funding. The demands included a ceasefire to stop insurgents and Ethiopian and Somali troops from engaging in battles and killing civilians, the complete deployment of an 8,000 African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia to allow for a full withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from the country, and the sharing of the chairmanship of the peace conference with a representative from opposition groups to ensure fairness.

On 15 June 2007, Burundi's army spokesman Colonel Adolphe Manirakiza said it had been agreed that a battalion of Burundian peacekeepers would be airlifted to Somalia next month following a visit to Burundi by African Union officials.

On 9 August 2007, armed opponents of Somalia's transitional government attacked the police in the capital, Mogadishu, in which they carried out raids on five stations overnight before being repulsed. Abdullahi Hassan Barise, the Mogadishu police chief, said 300 more police would be deployed in the outskirts of north Mogadishu in a bid to prevent militias from carrying out attacks in the city.

On 16 August 2007, Ugandan officials announced that Uganda would send an additional 250 soldiers to strife-torn Somalia to train the country's army as the transitional government in Mogadishu grappled with rising violence blamed on armed groups opposed to it.

On 30 August 2007, Organizers of Somalia's national reconciliation conference hailed the meeting as a success even as analysts expressed doubts over the outcome, they stated that major parties in the crisis had been left out of the peace-making process. The conference had been postponed 3 times amid threats of violence and even when it got under way on 15 July 2007, it was marred by boycotts by some key parties.

On 8 September 2007 an opposition spokesman, Zakariya Mahamud Abdi, said violence had escalated in the Somali capital of Mogadishu since Ethiopian troops along with transitional government forces broke Islamist control over large areas of Somalia earlier this year. He predicted a full-scale war across Somalia would soon break out.

On 12 September 2007, Somali opposition leaders that met in Eritrea's capital, Asmara, united to form an alliance against the Ethiopian forces that were in Somalia. Opposition spokesman, Zakariya Mahamud Abdi said the group was calling itself the Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia.

On 17 September 2007, Somali leaders signed a reconciliation agreement negotiated during the government's recent national peace conference. The agreement signed in the Saudi city of Jeddah encompassed some of Somalia's many rival factions but not the Islamic court leaders who opposed the government and boycotted the conference.

On 29 October 2007, Ali Mohamed Gedi resigned as Somalia's prime minister after an ongoing power struggle between him and the country's president Abdullahi Yusuf Hassan.

On 25 November 2007, Somali President Yusuf swore in Nur Adde Hassan Hussein as the new prime minister. The new prime minister promised to work first toward reconciling the government with opposition groups and to improve security. As November 2007 came to a close the number of Somali refugees hit one million, as nearly 200,000 fled Mogadishu in 2 weeks.

On 21 January 2008, the African Union (AU) warned that forces opposed to the Somali government had expanded their insurgent activities to areas that were previously peaceful and could have been planning attacks in the Middle and Lower Juba regions. On 20 February 2008 the Security Council extended for another six months the African Union-led mission in Somalia. By 2008, of the 9 battalions authorized for AMISOM, only 3 had been deployed, together, with a level 2 field hospital, despite the pledges of various AU member nations.

On 9 June 2008, the Somali government and opposition leaders came to an agreement of a cease-fire. Under the agreement, the Government and the opposition agreed to end "all acts of armed confrontation" within 30 days. The initial period of cessation of hostilities was 90 days, and could be renewed.

On 18 August 2008, Somalia's interim government signed a peace deal with some opposition figures in Djibouti, although fighting continued in Mogadishu. In the accord, the sides affirmed a commitment to halt fighting and to refrain from making inflammatory statements. It also called for deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in Somalia to replace Ethiopian troops who supported the government. The opposition alliance split into 2 factions when the deal was tentatively reached in June. Hard-liners based in Eritrea rejected the accord and vowed to continue fighting the government.

On 26 October 2008, Somalia's government signed a deal with opposition groups to implement a ceasefire and began a withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from the country. The deal required Ethiopia to begin moving its troops from the capital, Mogadishu and Beledweyne on November 21, and complete a second phase of withdrawal in 120 days. In return, the opposition was to maintain a ceasefire.

On 14 December 2008, the president of Somalia dismissed the government of Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein. President Yusuf said he had dismissed the prime minister because his transitional government was unable to perform its duties. The next day however, Somalia's parliament gave Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein a strong vote of confidence after the president said he was firing him. On 29 December 2008, Somali President Yusuf resigned after his failed attempt to remove Nur Hassan Hussein from power.

On 26 January 2009, Ethiopia had completed its troop withdraw from Somalia. Soon after the withdraw, the Somali parliament elected Sharif Ahmed as the new president of Somalia. He then appointed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the former president's son, as prime minister on 13 February 2009.

On 7 May 2009, insurgents began a heavy campaign against government forces. They gained ground in the offensive and threatened to overthrow the interim government. The government was backed by moderate Islamists after the Ethiopians withdrew from the region. The more extreme Islamists, led by the group al-Shabaab, took up arms against the moderates due to a difference in the implementation of sharia law in Somalia.

On 18 June 2009, a suicide bomber killed Somalia's minister of national security, Omar Hashi Aden. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility. At least 25 others also died.

On 14 September 2009, US Special Operations forces entered southern Somalia in a daytime helicopter raid and killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, believed to be one of the most senior Al-Qaida leaders in East Africa and one of many foreigners in Al-Shabaab's insurgency against the TFG.

On 1 October 2009 fighting broke out in Kismayo for the first time between the 2 rebel groups Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

On 28 January 2010 the Security Council renewed the authorization of AMISOM for another 12 months until 31 January 2011 in resolution 1910. On 29 January 2010, Al-Shabaab, one of the dominant forces that were fighting in Somalia, confirmed officially for the first time that it had joined Al Qaida's "international jihad."

On 15 March 2010, the TFG and Ahlu Suna Wal Jamma (ASWJ), the pro-government Islamist group that controled parts of central Somalia, formally signed a cooperation framework agreement in Addis Ababa. This agreement resembled a past cease-fire agreement in which the ASWJ stated it would cease all hostile acts toward the TFG and to help resist against those who challenged the interim government.

On 7 April 2010 Hizbul Islam claimed loyalty to Al-Qaida for the first time and invited Usama bin Laden to Somalia. On 13 May 2010, it was announced that the most powerful faction of Somalia's Hizbul Islam insurgents had officially cut ties with the group. The split occurred following allegations the Ras Kamboni faction signed a secret deal with the Somali government and neighboring Kenya.

On 1 July 2010, tensions flared in Somalia between the government and the Islamic militant group Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a. The 2 factions agreed to form a coalition against the more radical Islamic groups that were trying to overthrow the government. A leader of Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a stated that the agreement had collapsed due to the failure of the government to provide government positions to members of the militia.

On 16 October 2011, at the invitation of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, the Kenyan Government launched Operation Protect the Country against the al-Shabaab terrorist organization based in Somalia. A Kenyan army spokesman said that so-called "partners" had launched airstrikes against al-Shabab, and indicated that one of those partners was the United States. A U.S. State Department release said Tuesday that the U.S. has helped Kenya build its border defense capacity for years, but added, "The United States is not participating in Kenya's current operation in Somalia." The Kenyan army spokesman also said the French Navy had shelled the al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo. The French navy denied that claim.

President Sharif said only African Union troops can operate legally in Somalia, and cautioned against Kenya doing anything to harm the two countries' relations. Kenya's intervention was aimed at curtailing the danger presented by al-Shabab, and stopping the huge flow of Somali refugees into Kenya. More than 450,000 Somali refugees are living at a huge refugee complex in Dadaab, not far from the Kenya-Somalia border. By November 2011 The Kenyan military said it had shifted tactics in the fight against al-Shabab. After weeks of aerial bombardments, the military says al-Shabab had splintered into smaller factions, and so Kenyan forces have also started working on a smaller scale.

By January 2012 the United Nations Security Council gave a cautiously favorable response to a joint request by Kenya and the African Union for the incorporation of Kenya troops into the AU military mission in Somalia. The Amisom deployment would increase from 12,000 troops to almost 18,000 troops under the proposal, which also added additional troops from Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi.

Kenyan forces were incorporated into the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in June 2012, though Kenyan naval forces continue to operate independently. Kenya’s Defense Force said its troops took control of parts of the Somali port city of Kismayo Friday in a pre-dawn attack from the land, air and sea. The long-awaited operation is targeting the last major stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab. Kenya has been vowing to take control of Kismayo since it first sent troops into neighboring Somalia in October 2011, following a spate of cross-border attacks blamed on Somali militants.

Al-Shabaab controled portions of southern and central Somalia. Persons traveling to Somalia should be aware that incidents such as armed banditry, road assaults, kidnappings for ransom, shootings and grenade attacks on public markets, and detonations of anti-personnel and-vehicle land mines occur in most parts of the country. Al-Shabaab remains engaged in active warfare against the central government and regional administrations, including Puntland and Galmuduug. Also, illegal roadblocks by armed men, sometimes in government uniforms, remain common throughout Somalia and have resulted in serious injury or death.

Cross-border violence occurs periodically. The area near Somalia’s border with Kenya has been the site of numerous violent incidents, ranging from large-scale clashes between al-Shabaab and the central government to kidnappings, and grenade attacks on hostels used by international aid workers.

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Page last modified: 09-05-2013 17:36:01 ZULU