Germany and Somalia

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After years of civil war, attacks by al-Shabaab and piracy off the Somali coast still hog the headlines. The situation on the ground, however, remains more complex than the grim picture portrayed in the media

In 2012, for the first time since 1991, an internationally recognised government has been installed under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Many states, among them Germany, have re-established diplomatic relations with the 'Federal Republic of Somalia'. In June 2013, the United Nations opened the political mission UNSOM in Mogadishu. In September 2013, in line with the 'New Deal' process, the Somali Government and the international community agreed on the 'Somalia Compact'. The international community pledged 1.6 billion Euros to Somalia as part of a three-year plan to rebuild the country. Germany will contribute about 90 million Euros.

Everyday life in Somalia is still very much affected by attacks from al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist militia. Moreover, violent inter-clan conflicts are common. As a consequence, the civilian population all too often lacks access to clean drinking water, health care and education. The United Nations Security Council in resolution 2124 of 12 November 2013 agreed to increase AMISOM to over 22,000 troops. AMISOM is mostly funded by the UN and the African Peace Facility, a European Union fund. In total, Germany’s contribution to AMISOM amounted to 70 million Euros in 2013. The EU has established a training mission for Somali troops and supports the set-up of a Somali coast guard through a supra-regional training mission and Germany is participating.

The region of the former British colony in the northern parts of Somalia has declared its independence in 1991. However, the ‘Republic ofSomaliland’ has not been recognized by the international community. This notwithstanding, the regional entity achieved an impressive level of stability and democratic standards. Twice already, Somaliland has seen peaceful democratic transitions.

The region of Puntlandhas formed the 'Puntland State of Somalia' in 1998. Although claiming political autonomy, it does not aim for outright independence from the Somali state. Efforts are being made towards establishing democratic structures there, too. On 8 January 2014, the Puntland parliament elected a new president.

Relations between Germany and Somalia

Many Germans associate Somalia with the hi-jacking of Lufthansa-aircraft ‘Landshut’ or the shootdown of US-helicopters in October 1993, as shown in the American movie ‘Black Hawk Down’. However, before the civil war broke out in 1991, Germany and Somalia maintained good bilateral relations. Since the establishment of the Somali Federal Government in 2012, the two countries' relations have experienced a positive dynamic. Germany is particularly committed to:

  • Humanitarian aid: For many years, Germany has supported the Somali population with emergency assistance and relief which, for many, is still essential for survival. The German Federal Government currently contributes about 4-5 million Euros a year to fund humanitarian projects by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), German Welthungerhilfe (German Agro Action), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme and World Vision. Moreover, the German Federal Government contributes to the United Nations Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF).

  • Transitional aid: In some regions in Somalia, NGOs with many years of experience are in the position to run projects beyond emergency aid. Contributing about 3-4 million Euros a year, the German government enables such projects by Care International, World Vision, Véterinaires Sans Frontières as well as the giz.

  • Humanitarian de-mining: After decades of armed conflict, landmines and unexploded ordninances are a major challenge for the predominantly nomad Somali population. Therefore, the German Federal Government finances programmes of the Danish Demining Group and the HALO Trust to clear explosives. Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, Handicap International takes care of the victims of the armed conflict.

  • Parts of Somalia have made notable advances on the path toward democracy. A project by Interpeace, co-funded by Germany, is dedicated to further progress in democratization.

  • Germany has pledged90 million Euros at theNew Deal Conference for Somalia’s rehabilitation in Brussel in September 2013. Some of the money is already being used for rural development programs by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The deployment of the remaining funds will be decided in close cooperation with our partners from Somalia and the international community.

  • Through its assessed contribution to the UN budget, Germany co-finances AMISOM (through the UN Support Mission UNSOA) with about 32 million US-Dollars in 2013 alone. In addition, Germany has contributed another 50 million Euros a year via the African Peace Facility.

  • In total, 27 per cent of EU-support for Somalia is funded by Germany.

History of the Somali conflict

In 1991, local warlords and hired militia, widely organized along clan lines, overthrew former dictator Siad Barre causing a civil war. In the course of the early 2000s, the terror increasingly adhered to an extremist Islamist ideology. During the second half of 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and its armed militia gained effective control of major parts of South and Central Somalia. At first, UIC rule proved to be quite popular amongst ordinary Somalis. This was mainly due to the fact that, for the first time in 15 years, a rather stable system of law and order, albeit Islamist, could be established. It was only after an Ethiopian-led intervention that the TFG was finally able to gain ground against UIC in late 2006. Outside of the capital, however, the control of the TFG was basically non-existent.

Opposition against the TFG, mostly recruited from former UIC members, quickly reorganized and formed the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS). In 2008, within the framework of the Djibouti Process and under mediation by former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ould Abdallah, ARS and TFG agreed on a ceasefire, a peace process and the gradual withdrawal of Ethiopian troops. In 2009, the TFG was extended to include some ARS representatives and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed became president.

In March 2010, the TFG signed a cooperation agreement with the Sufi Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a organization, which also disposes of armed troops. In the meantime, the militant Islamic opposition, in particular the Hisbul Islam (Islamic Party) and al-Shabaab(“The Youth”), had intensified its attempts at overthrowing the government. Drawing on the support of foreign combatants, it committed a number of terrorist attacks.

At the beginning of 2012, al-Shabaab joined forces with the international terrorist network of al-Qaida which, on multiple occasions, declared Somalia a “battlefield of international Jihadism”.

More recently, AMISOM along with Somali troops succeeded in pushing al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu, the southern coastal city of Kismayo, and other major cities around the country. Despite the progress made, al-Shabaab still controls wide parts of Southern and Central Somalia and carries out attacks on non-military targets in urban areas.

Toward a new government

In early September 2011, representatives of the TFG, the autonomous region of Puntland and Galmudug as well as the Sufi movement of Ahlu Sunna signed a roadmap laying out tasks to be completed by the transitional institutions of Somalia, whose mandate had been extended to August 2012, accordingly. Supported by the international community, Somalia's institutions adopted a provisional Constitution and prepared the establishment of a Parliament with 275 MPs. The subsequent election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for president and the ensuing nomination of a new government marked the end of the country's transitional period.