US ‘committed to relaxing’ Somalia’s arms embargo

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – The Federal Government of Somalia’s remarkable strides in weapons and stockpile management have been applauded by the US government.

At the Weapons and Ammunition Management Conference’s closing ceremony on Wednesday, Larry André, US ambassador to Somalia, recognized the ongoing accomplishments of the Somali government.

Ambassador André emphasized the crucial steps President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration took to fulfill the benchmarks of the sanctions regime.

He stated that the modifications to the current resolution signify Somalia’s progress and demonstrate the nation’s ongoing efforts.

Furthermore, these actions benefit Somalia and address the criteria set by the UN Security Council for the eventual lifting of the sanctions regime.

US pledges continued support

The US ambassador expressed his country’s unwavering dedication to backing Somalia’s progress and ensuring that Somali forces can acquire the weapons required to vanquish al-Shabab, all while reducing the likelihood of weapons falling into the wrong hands.

André highlighted the productive five-year collaboration with the HALO Trust and Somali Security forces, which has eliminated 15 tons of obsolete and unstable ammunition.

This partnership has provided training for over 225 personnel in physical security and stockpile management, adhering to international best practices to ensure facilities’ safe and efficient use.

“We constructed and upgraded 25 buildings to comply with security standards, including the SNA’s primary arms storage, Halane Armory, situated just minutes from the conference venue,” André remarked.

The ambassador praised the essential work of the HALO Trust, which has significantly improved the safety of the armory for both the Somali security force personnel and the nearby residents.

He added that the conference would reinforce the existing partnership and elevate Somalia’s weapons and ammunition management practices to global standards, ultimately bolstering the Somali people’s shared commitment to peace and security.

Relaxing the arms embargo  

In November of the previous year, the United Nations Security Council opted to maintain an arms embargo on Somalia despite strong objections from the nation’s government.

The resolution stated that al-Shabab still presented a considerable threat to regional peace and stability, necessitating sanctions to undermine its operations.

However, the British-drafted resolution made adjustments to the arms embargo, reflecting improvements in the Somali government’s handling of weapons and ammunition.

The revised resolution allows Somalia to import portable surface-to-air missiles, high-caliber mortars, anti-tank guided weapons, select aircraft and vessels adapted for military use, and combat drones for deployment by its security forces and police.

This is permitted unless the UNSC committee overseeing sanctions raises objections within five working days of receiving notification from the Somali government.

Initially imposed in 1992, the UNSC’s arms embargo aimed to curtail the flow of weapons to feuding clan-based strongmen who had overthrown leader Mohamed Siad Barre the year before, plunging the nation into a devastating civil war.

By 2012, Somalia had established a functional transitional government, focusing on restoring stability despite enduring armed assaults and crippling droughts that have driven thousands to the edge of famine.

Under President Mohamud’s leadership, the Somali government has initiated a renewed offensive against al-Shabab, also targeting its financial network.

US deputy ambassador Robert Wood conveyed his hopes that the Somali government will maintain its momentum in achieving the benchmarks, which could further relax the arms embargo.