As the ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission on Somalia) continues its troop drawdown, the lifting of a 31-year-long United Nations (UN) arms embargo on the east African country will give “fresh impetus to the fight against al-Shabaab and other armed groups”, says the African Union (AU).
AU Special Representative for Somalia and the Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef and Somalia Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism Daud Aweis, told a joint press briefing that the decision by the UN Security Council was a game changer in ongoing offensive operations against al-Shabaab.
“This marks a significant moment in the evolution of Somalia’s security and acts as a catalyst for the ongoing transition of security responsibilities from ATMIS to the Somalia Security Forces (SSF). It is an important step in enhancing operational capabilities of the SSF, enabling them to combat al-Shabaab more effectively,” Souef told the December Mogadishu briefing.
The Somalian minister said the lifting of the embargo would enable Somalia to build and modernise its armed forces and enhance its capability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Somalia is struggling with many challenges, including the presence of extremist group al-Shabaab linked to the international terrorist network Al-Qaeda. Somalia needs to acquire modern weapons and equipment to effectively fight these threats and secure its borders,” he said.
Notwithstanding ongoing ATMIS troop drawdowns, two last year, joint ATMIS/SSF operations continue, with Aweis giving one example.
“An operation carried out by the national army with the help of international allies in the village of Hilow Bacaad, 80 km south-west of Halgan in Hiiran region, confirmed the killing of 60 terrorists. The SNA (Somali National Army) and local forces also carried out operations in the Bakool, Galgadud, Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions,” he told the briefing.