Somalia/Frontline States summit

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This week (Wednesday, 1 February) saw a Somalia/Frontline States summit in Mogadishu convened in the wake of ongoing targeted and sustained campaign by the Somali Security Forces (SSF) aimed at degrading the capability of terrorist groups according to Kenya’s Ministry of Defence.

Current operations in Somalia, with ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) and SSF in the forefront are directed at “diminishing” al-Shabaab operational capability and “building on the rejection of the terror group by the Somali public”.

The summit, attended by senior and, in some instances presidents, of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, reviewed conclusions reached by a conclave of defence minister and defence force chiefs from the four countries on the importance of co-ordinated and timely technical, logistical, intelligence and operational support to ongoing anti-terror operations with the Somali National Army  (SNA).

During the summit, leaders present agreed to make a final push for joint operations in the areas still under terrorist control to “completely liberate the whole of Somalia from Al-Shabaab”. This, in turn, will facilitate the drawdown of ATMIS troops and gradual handover of security responsibilities to the SSD. The leaders applauded “significant progress” in Somalia with more regions recovered by SSF in conjunction with ATMIS troops.

“They (the leaders) were all in common agreement on progress to rebuild and modernise Somalia’s security forces through unified efforts of force generation, capability development and support with firepower and multipliers,” the Kenya statement said.

Somali leaders want lethal and non-lethal support to equip the new SNA units and enhance the firepower of current SNA operational units the summit heard in addition to endorsing the East African country’s “quest to completely lift an arms embargo by the end of 2023”.

The Summit, the Kenya Defence Ministry statement has it, came at a crucial moment as security forces in Somalia continue to liberate more areas that have been under Al-Shabaab to enable the federal government to enhance service delivery and extend its authority. The importance of establishing a joint border security mechanism to eliminate cross-border terrorism activities and ensure legal passage of trade and movement was stressed.