Horn Dispatch Weekly Security Brief 12.05.23

The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2714 (2023) lifting the previous arms embargo on Somalia. The resolution emphasized, for the avoidance of doubt, that there is no arms embargo on the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia (GFRS). (PHOTO CREDIT: UN)

UN Security Council Lifts Arms Embargo on Somalia Government

The United Nations Security Council has lifted the arms embargo on Somalia after more than 30 years that restricted weapons deliveries to the government and security forces.

The Security Council approved on Friday with 14 votes in favor and one abstention to lift the arms restrictions on the horn of African country.

The 15-member body also maintained the embargo on Somalia’s militant group al-Shabab.

“The lifting of the arms embargo enables us to confront security threats,” said Somalia’s U.N. Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman. “It also allows us to bolster the capacity of the Somali security forces by accessing lethal arms and equipment to adequately safeguard our citizens and our nation.”

Somalia’s successive governments have advocated for the removal of the arms embargo to be able to secure the country and defeat al-Shabab.

The European Union (E.U.) said Sunday that lifting the arms embargo paves the way for Somalia to deal with insecurity.

“The E.U. takes positive note of the U.N. Security Council’s decision to end the arms embargo on Somalia after more than thirty years. It paves the way for the government’s capacity to take over security,” Peter Stano, spokesman for E.U. diplomacy chief Josep Borrell, wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“E.U. is confident that this will also be accompanied by increased scrutiny and control on weapons management,” he added.

Somali President: Climate Change Threatens the Operation Against al-Shabab

The president of Somalia told the United Nations’ COP28 climate conference in Dubai that climate change threatens his country’s efforts to defeat the rebel group al-Shabab.

“As we continue to pursue our successful fight against terrorism at home, frequent climate shocks have at times slowed down our combat operations to uproot the terrorists in Somalia,” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said.

In recent weeks, Somalia experienced flooding, which has killed more than 100 people and displaced at least 2.4 million, according to the UN agencies.

The floods from heavy rains have also slowed the government’s military offensive against al-Shabab in central regions.

Blocked roads caused by flooding have prevented government forces from liberating more towns from al-Shabab.

ATMIS to Withdraw 3,000 Troops

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has resumed its withdrawal from the Horn of Africa country. The departure of at least 3,000 AU troops is expected to start in December, following a three-month delay at the request of the Somali government.

“As mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 2710 (2023), ATMIS will withdraw 3,000 troops from Somalia and transfer control of eight forward operating bases (FOBs) by the end of 2023,” the mission, the Somali government and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) announced Saturday in a joint statement.

“Originally, the process was to be completed by the end of September 2023, it was halted following a request from the federal government for a technical pause,” they said.

The AU forces will hand over security responsibilities to the Somali national army, which has been engaged in a military offensive against al-Shabab in the past 15 months.

Somali forces, with the help of clan militias, have been able to liberate dozens of villages and towns from al-Shabab. However, the group continues to carry out attacks against government forces and the population.

Four Injured in al-Shabab Attack in Somali Military Camp

According to Radio Kulmiye, a privately owned radio station, at least four people were injured in an al-Shabab suicide attack outside the Somali army camp on Sunday.

According to witnesses and officials, an al-Shabab terrorist detonated his explosive jacket at the area as a group of young men waited to sign up for the Somali Commandos Gorgor Unit.

The military camp is on Mogadishu’s Jazeera Road, just across the Turkish army camp Turksom.

Somali Forces Kills More than 60 al-Shabab Militants

More than 60 members of Al-Shabaab were killed in a joint operation by the National Army and international allies, reports state-owned media Somali National Television.

The military operation that killed al-Shabab militants took place in the village of Hilow Baad, located eight kilometers southwest of Halgan in the Hiran region.

The Somali National Army and Ma’awisley Forces initiated the operation Sunday and, by Monday evening, were in control of the area.

Ali Jeyte Osman, the representative of the President of the Republic in charge of Ma’awisley Forces affairs, along with officers from the National Army, visited the locations where the enemy was defeated. They commended the heroes of the national army for successfully targeting the terrorists.

The army discovered the bodies of the al-Shabab fighters, destroyed the group’s hiding positions, and seized weapons in the operation, which lasted for two days.

Al-Shabab Gives Cash to Flood Victims

As part of its campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Somalis affected by flooding, al-Shabab has distributed cash to families in Bulafulay village in the Bay region displaced from their homes by the floods.

The group’s mouthpiece, Radio Andalus, reports that each family received $40, and those who benefited expressed appreciation to al-Shabab.

Last month, al-Shabab formed a rescue committee to support people affected and displaced from their homes by floods from heavy rains.

Two Floods Victims Killed in a Suspected al-Shabab Landmine Attack

At least two people were killed on Sunday in Elwaq town in the Gedo region, Somalia, in a suspected al-Shabab landmine attack.

Witnesses say that the bomb was placed under a tree where victims had sought shelter after leaving their homes due to floods caused by heavy rains in the region.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed the two civilians, but al-Shabab is blamed for this kind of bomb attack.

Airstrike Kills 2 al-Shabab Militants

The al-Shabab-controlled town of Jilib in the Middle Juba region came under air attack Sunday evening, killing two al-Shabab fighters.

Privately-owned Radio Kulmiye reported Monday six strikes hit areas in and out of Jilib town, targeting al-Shabab bases in the town.

Al-Shabab-affiliated Radio Andalus said the strikes killed two civilians, including an 11-year-old girl.