Neighboring states support lifting arms embargo on Somalia

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – A summit of heads of state and government from neighboring countries of Somalia – Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya – has supported Mogadishu’s bid to lift the UN arms embargo by the end of 2023. 

The summit, held in Mogadishu on Wednesday, was attended by Djibouti’s President Ismail Omer Guelleh, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, Kenya’s President William Ruto, and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

The meeting aimed to support Somalia’s government in obtaining lethal and non-lethal support in its fight against the al-Shabab terror group and adequately equip the newly-generated Somalia National Army units.

The leaders agreed to jointly plan a decisive operational strategy against the terror group and mobilize regional support for timely and decisive operations. 

President Ruto stressed the importance of adopting a common strategy for combating terrorism and associated criminal activities in the Horn of Africa region. 

President Mohamud acknowledged the crucial role played by Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya in Somalia’s counterterrorism efforts.

The extension of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on Somalia’s arms embargo in November 2022 sparked dissatisfaction from Somalia and the African Union. 

The extension included a ban on the sale or transfer of critical components of improvised explosive devices used by al-Shabaab, a ban on importing and exporting Somali charcoal, travel bans, and asset freezes on individuals associated with the terror group.

The sanctions also included travel bans and asset freezes on individuals associated with al-Shabab and its activities. Somalia’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Abukar Osman, expressed dissatisfaction with the extension of the sanctions, warning that it hindered the country’s efforts to rebuild its security forces.

In the Mogadishu meeting, a joint operations mechanism was agreed upon to coordinate efforts to defeat the al-Qaeda-linked terror group. 

The leaders emphasized the importance of joint military operations against al-Shabab to facilitate the drawdown of The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia troops and the handover of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces. 

The leaders also called for support from international partners for Somalia’s stabilizing efforts in newly liberated areas and a joint border security mechanism to eliminate cross-border terrorism activities and ensure the legal passage of trade and movement. 

However, al-Shabab demonstrated its resilience with mortar attacks during the military meeting preceding the summit. No casualties were reported.