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Somalia

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The turbulence threatening the fragile Transistional Federal Government (TFG) led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is showing signs of abatement. The government may have international recognition and receive donor support, but it still only governs little more than a portion of Mogadishu. Its 2010 alliance with the moderate Sufi organization, Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'a, has yet to provide much practical support, though its value should be more apparent the coming year. Some minor victories by the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, AMISOM, over the Al Shabaab insurgency have encouraged a mood of very cautious optimism in Mogadishu.

AMISOM troops halted Al Shabaab's offensive during Ramadan and they have now gradually started to expand the perimeter around the presidency following the arrival of another battalion. More troops are to come, and AMISOM was expected to reach its mandated total of 8,000 troops before the end of 2010. The International Authority on Development has called for AMISOM to be increased to 20,000. The UN is reluctant to deploy a peacekeeping force, but their is less resistance to increasing the number of AMISOM forces. The UN Political Office for Somalia will soon increase its light presence on the ground in Garowe, Hargeisa and Mogadishu.

July's 2010 terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda increased international concern regarding dangers posed by insurgents in the region. Increasing numbers of TFG forces have been trained outside Somalia, as well as by AMISOM forces in Mogadishu. In addition, a significant number of troops have been recruited and trained in Kenya, apparently with the intention of directing an attack on Kismayo, through which al-Shabaab has been importing most of its arms and ammunition. The port is also the primary outlet for exporting cattle and charcoal.

The stability of the TPG was undermined by disagreements between Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and parliamentary speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. This led Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke to resign in Septemeber 2010. He was replaced by presidential nominee Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed in late October 2010. The disputes raised questions about the durability of the TPG whose mandate expires in August 2011.

The TPG will be engaged in further hostilities to back up continuing efforts to expand its support base. Success depends on whether it receives promised resources and if it proves capable of deploying them effectively. There is still alot to be accomplished before the end of the transition period in providing basic services to the population and working toward reconciliation under the framework of the 2008 Djibouti agreements which brought Sheikh Sharif into office.

Somaliland, Somalia's de facto autonomous northern region, beat the odds in 2010 by managing, after several delays, to convoke a successful presidential election. In June 2010, the result was an orderly transition of power from Dahir Riyale Kahin to Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo. Somaliland's ulimate goal remains international recognition of its independence. Silanyo has a notable international reputation, and his success could improve the process of increased acknowledgment. United States President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010 that his government is prepared to provide greater support to Somaliland and Puntland. Somaliland, like Puntland, has been the focus of terrorist attacks, but is likely to remain largely free of extremist activity. Its relationship with Puntland remains difficult, as Puntland still claims much of the regions of Sol and Sanaag which were part of the former British colonial territory on which Somaliland bases its claim to independence.

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Although the United States never formally severed diplomatic relations with Somalia, the U.S. Embassy in Somalia has been closed since the collapse of the Siad Barre government in 1991. The United States maintains regular dialogue with the TFG and other key stakeholders in Somalia through the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Consular coverage for Somalia is maintained by U.S. Embassy Nairobi, while American Citizens Services in the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland" are provided by the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti.
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