Somalia (SO)

Capital

Mogadishu

Population

15 million

Constitution

Parliamentary republic

Head of state

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, acting president

National Day

July 1st

Federal Republic of Somalia's Ambassador to the UK

H.E Mr Abdullahi Mohamed Ali

The Embassy of Somalia, Moran House, Suite 9, 449-451 High Road Willesden, London, NW10 2JJ

UK's Ambassador to Federal Republic of Somalia

H.E Ms Kate Foster OBE

The British Embassy Mogadishu, Mogadishu, Somalia

Somalia makes up much of the tip of the Horn of Africa which juts out into the India Ocean. The country began to disintegrate following the overthrow of the military regime of President Siad Barre in 1991. The country was created in 1960 from the merger of two European colonies in Africa, British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland.

Civil war and secession

Rival warlords tore the country apart into clan-based fiefdoms during a decades-long civil war that followed Siad Barre’s ousting. Two relatively peaceful regions effectively broke away.  In 1991, former British Somaliland declared unliteral independence. 1998 witnessed the declared autonomy of Northern Puntland, the region between the two territorial entities, which are now called Somaliland and the Federal Republic of Somalia.

In 2006, a coalition of Islamist shariah courts seized the Somali capital of Mogadishu and much of the south of the country, prompting interventions by Ethiopian and African Union forces. The courts militias were soon driven out. In 2010, Al-Shabab, also known as Al-Shabaab (The Youth in Arabic), a jihadist group which broke away from the Islamic Courts, declared an alliance with Al-Qaeda. The group advanced into southern and central Somalia prompting an armed intervention by Kenya. Al-Shabab launched a campaign of bombings and assassinations that continues until today. In October 2017, Somalia’s government blamed the group for a huge truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people.

Struggle for stability

In 2012, despite conflict and terror attacks, efforts to restore a central authority to Somalia made substantial progress, with the first holding of a presidential election since 1967 and with the swearing in of the first parliament in more than 20 years. Pro-government forces made important advances against Al-Shabab, mainly in the south.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed served as President of Somalia and then as acting president following the expiry of his term, following the refusal by two federal members, Puntland and Jubaland, to recognise him as president. Both regions have now agreed to elections.

Progress towards peace

The World Bank believes Somalia has enjoyed “a sustained period of political and institutional progress” that “reflects a country transitioning out of fragility and protracted crisis.” Key constitutional questions remain but, according to the Bank, “…federalism appears to offer a new means to negotiate power and resources, and to manage developmental imbalances between the more stable northern regions and those in the south still emerging from conflict.”

The hope of growing political stability could see Somalia’s economy benefitting from its proximity to Ethiopia and the dynamic change currently being experienced by countries in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea regions.

Political stalemate

Despite significant progress, there is currently political deadlock in Somalia. Political in-fighting has been blamed on the failure to hold presidential elections to choose a successor to president Mohamed. In late 2021, the President himself was engaged in a feud with his own prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, and even suspended his powers to hire and fire officials. 

 

 

Key dates

400BC
HERODOTUS: First mention of the Macrobian people - an ancient proto-Somali tribe- by the Greek historian Herodotus
Classical Somalia
Somalia is ruled by 9 "Barbara" city states which develop a lucrative trade network linking up with Egypt, Greece and Parthian Persia
600s
Islam spreads rapidly to the area. For centuries, Somalia and other areas of the Horn of Africa come under the sway of rival sultanates
1200s to 1600s
Ajuran Sultanate dominates much of the Horn of Africa, before collapsing into regional sultanates
1875
Egypt occupies towns on Somali coasts and elsewhere
1860's
France gains foothold on the Somali coast, later to become Djibouti
1887
Britain proclaims protectorate over Somaliland
1888
Anglo-French agreement to divided their territorial Somali spoils
1889
Italy sets up protectorate in central Somalia and joined to territory in the south ceded by the Sultan of Zanzibar
1936
Italian Somaliland is joined to Somali speaking areas of Ethiopia to create Italian province of East Africa
1940
Italian troops occupy British Somaliland
1941
WORLD WAR 2: British troops occupy Italian Somaliland
1950
Italian Somaliland becomes a UN trust under Italian control
1956
Italian Somaliland renamed Somalia and granted internal autonomy
1960
British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland merge to form Republic of Somalia
1969
Mohamed Siad Barre assumes power in a coup and declares a socialist state
1991
SECESSIONITIS: the ousting of Barre sparks a decades-long civil war and country disintegrates as different regions secede
1991
Former British Somaliland declares independence
1998
Northern Puntland bordering both Somaliland and Somalia declares autonomy
2005-2017
Pirates operating out of Puntland pose serious threat to shipping
June - July 2006
Militias loyal to Union of Islamic Courts defeat clan warlords to take Somali capital Mogadishu and other parts of the south
July 2006
Ethiopian troops enter Somalia to take on the Islamists
Dec' 2006
Ethiopian and transitional government troops push Islamist militants out of Mogadishu
Jan 2007
Militants abandon the port of Kismayo, their last southern redoubt
March 2007
African Union troops land in Mogadishu to support Ethiopian and transitional government troops defend Mogadishu against militants. African Union troops will stay in Somalia for 4 years
Jan' 2009
Ethiopian troops withdraw from Somalia
May 2009
AL-SHABAB INSURGENCY: Al-Shabab (The Youth) advance on Mogadishu and the south
Oct' 2009
Al-Shabab jihadists defeat rival militia to capture the southern port of Kismayo
Feb' 2010
AL-SHABAB AND AL-QAEDA: Al-Shabab declares alliance with al-Qaeda and begins to launch offensive on Mogadishu
Jan' 2011
Piracy at sea reaches a 7 year high, with Somali pirates - operating mainly from Puntland - accounting for 49 of the 52 ships seized in 2010
July 2011
United Nations formally declares famine in 3 regions of Somalia- Al-Shabab partially lifts ban on foreign aid agencies
July 2011
Al-Shabab pulls out pf Mogadishu, describing the withdrawal as tactical
May 2012
Al-Shabab lose key towns of Baidoa and Afgoye to Kenyan, African Union and government forces
Oct' 2011
Kenya enters Somalia to fight jihadists, in retaliation for militants' incursions into Kenyan territory
Aug' 2012
Somalia's first formal parliament in more than 20 years is sworn in at Mogadishu's airport. Pro-government forces push Al-Shabaab out of the southern port town of Mecca
Sept' 2012
FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SINCE 1967: Academic Hassan Sharif Mohamud is elected president of Somalia by MPs in Mogadishu
Jan' 2012
The US recognises first Somali government since 1991
Sept' 2013
NAIROBI ATTACK: Al-Shabab militant attack shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi killing 60 in retaliation for Kenya's involvement in the Somali civil war
June 2014
Al-Shabab kill another 60 people in 2 further attacks on Kenyan soil
Sept' 2014
AL SHABAB'S LEADER GODANE IS KILLED: Al Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane is killed in a US drone strike
Nov' - Dec' 2014
Al-Shabab carry out more mass killings in north-west Kenya
April 2015
Al-Shabab says it killed 148 people at Garissa University College in northern Kenya. Most of the victims are Christian students
Nov' 2016
Leaders of 2 Somalia regions, Puntland and Galmudug agree to a ceasefire in the disputed city of Galway
Feb' 2017
Somalia's parliament elects to the presidency Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo
March 2017
Privates seize their first ship in 5 years - a tanker off the coast of Puntland
May 2017
In London, President Mohamed calls for lifting of arms embargo against Somalia to help in the fight against the militants. UN expresses confidence in Somalia's progress towards stability
Oct' 2017
Truck bombings in Mogadishu kill 350 people
Dec' 2020
The US withdraws 700 troops from Somalia
Feb' 2021
President Mohamed's terms expires but no date had been set for the election of a successor and fighting broke out in Mogadishu
May 2021
Government and opposition parties agree to hold elections and the announcement quells the fighting in the capital. President Mohamed is acting president. Election scheduled for October
Sept' 2021
UN Security Council urges Somalia's feuding politicians to resolve their differences. President Mohamed suspends powers of his estranged prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble
October 2021
Elections scheduled for October 10th are postponed yet again, a move further compounding political squabbling