Somalia Neighbors Gather in Mogadishu to Discuss Al-Shabab Threat, ATMIS Future

Djibouti's president Ismail Omar Guelleh, left, meets Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, right, ahead of the security summit in Mogadishu. (PHOTO: Presidency)

Somalia hosts Djibouti’s president Ismail Omar Guelleh, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Kenyan president William Ruto to discuss the security threat posed by the terrorist group al-Shabab and the future of African Union troops in the country.

Security measures were high ahead of the Wednesday’s meeting as roads remain closed and flights are restricted.

The leaders from neighboring countries are meeting a day after the defense ministers of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya met in Mogadishu to discuss and adopt a common position on anti-terrorism strategies against al-Shabab.

The four leaders including Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will discuss the agreed security plan between defense ministers and army chiefs.

The three countries share a border with Somalia and are among those that contribute troops to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

Somali Information Minister Daud Aweis said Tuesday the meeting was critical to bolstering regional anti-terrorism efforts.

“The reason for the Mogadishu is that the Somali government is making progress and is working on freeing the country from terrorists,” he said.

Military commanders from the four countries also participated in the Mogadishu security discussion.

“The discussion will also center on the country’s ongoing security operation against al-Shabab, which is being led by Somali forces and citizens with the goal of bringing lasting peace to the country and region. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that ongoing security operations do not end in Somalia but also continue in neighboring countries, “Aweis said.

The defense ministers’ meeting is Mogadishu’s second in 15 years. The first was held in 2007 when the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia was established.

In August, Somalia launched a military offensive to rid the country of the militant group al-Shabab, and it has made progress in retaking control of several towns and villages from the group.

The U.S. Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Monday that she was pleased with security gains against the al-Qaida linked terror group.

“The government is making progress against al-Shabab, and we’re working side by side with them to support their strategy. We’re working with ATMIS to also support their efforts to support the government. And those efforts will continue until they have been able to destroy al-Shabab’s ability to terrorize the people of Somalia, to terrorize the region, and to terrorize the world,” said Thomas-Greenfield.