Horn Dispatch Weekly Security Brief 7.2.24

Al-Shabab militants in Somalia. (Photo: Courtesy)

Somalia Denies Holding Talks with Al-Shabab

The Somali government has denied that it plans to hold peace talks with al-Shabab in Qatar and has set conditions that can allow any negotiations with the terror group.

“FGS is not in talks with al-Shabab. The president has put forward clear conditions on this eventuality,” national security advisor of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Ali said on X. “They must sever any link with global terror groups and accept Somalia’s territorial integrity. They must be willing to pursue their political agenda peacefully.”

Hussein Sheikh Ali’s response came after local media and a section of Somali society reported that Qatar was planning to host peace talks between the government and the al-Qaeda-linked terror group al-Shabab. 

The government is currently engaged in a military offensive against al-Shabab, who controls large territories in southern and central Somalia. 

Somalia Cites Terrorism, Separatism A Major Threat to the Country 

Somalia says terrorism and separatism are threats to its national security.

The document approved by the cabinet on Thursday said terrorism was a top concern as the insurgent group al-Shabab continues with terror activities, which is destabilizing the country.

The group was exploiting corruption and weak governance in the country to continue its war against the government and its citizens. 

The document the president national security office prepared warned separatism threatens Somalia’s territorial integrity. 

Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding with the breakaway region of Somaliland, which gives Addis Ababa access to the sea and allows it to establish a naval force in the region.   

The document’s endorsement comes after Ethiopia refused to drop the agreement with Somaliland, which Somalia says is part of its territory. 

AU Forces Hands A Military Base to Somali Troops 

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has handed over the Abdalla Birolle Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF). The military base, previously under the responsibility of ATMIS Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), is the fourth to be transferred as part of the Phase Three drawdown.

The Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia (DSRCC), Siyuvile Bam, presided over the handover of the base. ATMIS Sector Two Commander Brig. Seif Salim Rashid transferred control to

SNA representative Major Muhudin Ahmed. At the symbolic event were representatives from the United Nations (UN) and Jubaland State officials.

“Somalia once provided sanctuary to freedom fighters from other African countries during their struggles for independence. It is our duty to reciprocate the support and sacrifices made by the Somali people for our own countries’ freedom,” said Mr. Bam.

He added that, “Although we are handing over security responsibilities, the African Union will not abandon Somalia and will continue supporting a Somali-led peace and security process.”

ATMIS Sector Two Commander Brig. Rashid praised the effective collaboration between the ATMIS KDF contingent and Somali Security Forces, which resulted in successful operations against Al-Shabaab in Jubaland State. He urged the incoming

SNA forces to maintain the security gains and build on the achievements of ATMIS troops. “Operationally, we have achieved significant successes, greatly impacting the security situation in Kismayo. This FOB serves as a buffer zone for Kismayo airport and so to our colleagues taking over, we wish you all the best. We will remain available for consultations and support as needed,” said Brig Rashid.

Representing the Somalia National Armed Forces (SNAF), Major Muhudin, thanked ATMIS KDF for the sacrifices made to secure Somalia.Kenya Defence Forces troops have dedicated significant time to fighting for Somalia’s liberation and security, contributing to the peace process. No one risks their life unless the cause is truly important, said Major Muhudin

The incoming SNAF FOB Commander, Col. Mohamed Hassan Gabobe, said, “As we assume security responsibilities for this base, we are confident in our capability to maintain peace and security within our Area of Responsibility.”

The United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) gifted UN-owned equipment to the SNAF to ensure the base remains operational. The items include generators, water treatment plants, and water storage tanks.

“UNSOS will continue to provide key logistical support to the Somalia National Armed Forces who are taking over this FOB,” said Santosh Koka, from the UNSOS Transition Planning Cell.

The deputy Mayor of Abdalla Birolle town, Ahmed Ali, said, “Since the Kenyan troops’ deployment in this region, their joint offensive and defensive operations with local Jubaland State security forces have significantly improved the security situation. The local community now enjoys relative peace.”

Located 52 kilometers southwest of the port city of Kismayo, the Abdalla Birolle FOB has been manned by ATMIS KDF since 2016. It serves as a strategic security buffer for Kismayo International Airport and protects the main supply routes connecting Buula Xaaji and Kismayo city, as well as the local community.

UN Security Council Resolution 2741 (2024) authorizes ATMIS to withdraw 2,000 troops from Somalia by 30 June and another 2,000 by 30 September 2024 under the Phase Three drawdown.

Source: APO

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