Monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in September


Federal govt and all member states reached long-awaited agreement on electoral framework; Al-Shabaab attacks continued in south, centre and capital Mogadishu.

President Farmajo early Sept met with presidents of Puntland and Jubaland federal member states after they distanced themselves from Aug deal between Farmajo and leaders of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and South West states regarding electoral modalities for Nov 2020 parliamentary and Feb 2021 presidential elections; Farmajo made several major concessions to Puntland and Jubaland; Farmajo and heads of all five federal member states met 13-17 Sept, agreed to indirect electoral framework for 2020-2021 polls. Shortly after reaching deal, Farmajo appointed Mohamed Hussein Roble as new PM following July ouster of former PM Khayre. Parliament approved PM Roble 23 Sept and indirect electoral model 26 Sept. In south and centre, Al-Shabaab 4 Sept abducted some 50 herders in Hiraan region; early Sept withstood army offensives to retake strategic Janay Abdalle town in Lower Juba region and throughout month reportedly killed at least 39 soldiers, civilians and state officials in Mudug, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle, Bakool, Hiraan and Galguduud regions. Counter-insurgency operations throughout month reportedly left over 100 Al-Shabaab militants dead in Galguduud, Mudug, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle, Bay, Gedo, Middle Juba and Lower Juba regions. Security forces 25 Sept rescued 40 children from Al-Shabaab training camp in Lower Shabelle region. In Mogadishu, suspected Al-Shabaab bombing targeting convoy of African Union mission (AMISOM) 6 Sept left one dead; AMISOM soldiers same day shot and wounded at least seven civilians. Al-Shabaab suicide bombing at restaurant 9 Sept killed at least three. In Middle Shabelle region, suspected inter-clan revenge killing 3 Sept left at least five dead. In Gedo region in south, hundreds late Sept took to streets across region after Kenyan forces reportedly operating under AMISOM 23-24 Sept allegedly killed at least one civilian and abducted several others; Kenyan security forces 26 Sept opened fire to deter demonstrators from approaching border prompting Somali forces to return fire which sparked brief firefight.


Afghan govt and Taliban began long-awaited peace talks, while violence steadily increased across country. Taliban and govt 12 Sept began intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar’s capital, in ceremony attended by High Council for National Reconciliation chief Abdullah Abdullah, FM Hanif Atmar and international figures including U.S. Sec State Pompeo; despite some progress in establishing format and procedure of talks, issues emerged over role of religious minorities, such as Hazara community, and govt’s desire not to acknowledge Feb U.S.-Taliban agreement. Other contentious issues included Taliban’s opposition to govt’s open communication with national media, Taliban negotiators being more senior than their govt counterparts and domestic expectation that levels of violence would quickly fall. Meanwhile, Taliban resumed attacks on district centres with at least seven large-scale assaults on urban areas and several on outskirts of provincial capitals; including 20 Sept attack on Afghan security forces convoy outside Maidan Shar, Wardak province (centre) that killed 31 soldiers and 22 Sept raid on Maruf district centre, Kandahar province (south) that killed at least 20 soldiers and wounded 20 others. Fighting intensified in northern regions and southern provinces of Kandahar and Uruzgan, including series of attacks in latter’s Gizab district 17-22 Sept, while clashes continued on Shibergan to Mazar highway in Jawzjan province (north). Govt claimed its forces remained in “active defence” posture but deployed troops to contested areas and continued to conduct airstrikes that caused civilian casualties, including killing dozens of militants and at least ten civilians in Kunduz province (north west) 19 Sept. Govt made progress with political appointments after Abdullah did not object to President Ghani’s 31 Aug decree nomination of several cabinet members; however, concerns continued over underlying Ghani-Abdullah tensions and role that Ghani-controlled state ministry for peace, ostensibly under purview of Abdullah’s High Council, would play in peace process.


Oil exports resumed after rival camps brokered deal to lift months-long oil sector blockade, and rival PMs pledged to step down amid protests. East-based strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar 18 Sept agreed to lift eight-month oil sector blockade and allow resumption of oil sales; move followed weeks of intense diplomatic efforts and meeting between Haftar’s camp and west-based UN-backed PM Serraj’s Deputy Ahmed Meitig in Russia mid-Sept. Central Bank and officials in Tripoli late Sept distanced themselves from deal on grounds that Meitig made too many financial concessions to Haftar camp, but oil exports resumed 26 Sept. Ceasefires declared by rival east-based House of Representatives’ head Aguila Saleh and Serraj in Aug mostly held, despite Haftar’s Arab-Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF) shelling UN-backed Govt of National Accord (GNA) forces’ headquarters west of strategic city of Sirte 1 Sept. Heads of rival assemblies, Saleh and Tripoli-based High State Council’s Khaled Mishri 6-10 Sept met in Morocco and agreed to start consultations on appointment of five top institutional posts, including Central Bank governor; leaders also agreed to appoint members of their institutions to participate in UN-mediated talks scheduled to restart in Oct, with aim to reach agreement on new unified govt to guide country toward general elections within 18 months. Protests against corruption and worsening living conditions subsided in west but continued in east. Protesters 13 Sept set fire to govt headquarters in Benghazi city and attacked police station in al-Marj town, prompting police to fire live ammunition, leaving one dead and several wounded. Amid unrest and in alleged attempt to pressure representatives of various factions to agree on new unity govt, rival PMs announced their intention to step down. East-based PM Abdullah al-Thani 14 Sept tendered his resignation to Saleh, who left him in caretaker capacity until lawmakers review his resignation. Serraj 16 Sept said UN-brokered talks have led to “new preparatory phase” to unify institutions and announced his intention to resign by end of Oct. Two militias loyal to GNA 24 Sept clashed in Tripoli suburb of Tajoura, leaving at least three killed and several wounded.