Leaders ask for the UNSC to lift the arms embargo on Somalia
The federal government of Ethiopia has given the green light to bolster training schemes for Somalia’s security forces as well as exchange security intelligence information. The heads of governments of the two states reached a new height of consensus after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the re-elected President, convened in Addis Ababa on September 28 and 29, 2022.
The leaders called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to consider Somalia’s request for the lifting of the arms embargo imposed on the country for more than 30 years to ensure that it is sufficiently equipped to effectively address the security threat posed by the Al-Shabab terrorist group.
In a bid to end the ongoing civil war, the UNSC first restricted supplying weapons or military equipment to Somalia in 1992, including bans on charcoal trading, among others. Later in 2014, the restrictions were lifted, allowing deliveries of weapons, military equipment, assistance, or training intended solely for the development of the security forces of Somalia and to provide security for the Somali people.
In 2018, the Council fully lifted similar armed embargos and sanctions previously placed on Eritrea in relation to supporting terrorism in Djibouti. But in May 2022, the UNSC committee on Somalia only partially lifted the embargo.
Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s President between 2012 and 2017 and was re-elected in May 2022, came to power at a time when the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) was restructured into the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which is also slated to expire in 2024.
Ethiopia initially deployed over 4,000 troops under AMISOM. The new leader, while pulling strings to strengthen the local security forces, is also trying to include former Al-Shabaab member in its government, which initially troubled Addis Ababa.
Mohamud arrived in Addis Ababa five months after he assumed office, which observers say is possible fallout with PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD). However, the two have finally agreed to join arms against terrorism. Al-Shabab’s first of its kind attack on Ethiopia’s border last month also contributed to this end, which Ethiopia fears will join forces with the TPLF and other local insurgents to destabilize Ethiopia.
IGAD also issued statement lauding the two leaders’ agreement to cooperate ‘finally’.
Samuel Tefera (PhD), assistant professor at Center for African and Oriental Studies at AAU, says Hassan Sheikh’s visit to Addis Ababa clarified many issues. “Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea had strong Rapprochement during Farmajo. But after Hassan Sheikh resumed office, the new president tried to create alliance with Egypt and also entertained Egypt’s interest over GERD. This reversed the anti-terrorism effort in the horn of Africa.”
Samuel welcomed the move to continue the alliance on security matters.
“Ethiopia’s offer for military training and intelligence is also a good sign for cooperation on to fight Al-shabab. The meeting of the two leaders also indicates they are determined to survive under external pressure especially from America,” he added.
However, the professor says the two leaders’ call for UNSC to lift the arms embargo on Somalia, is confusing. He believes Somalian government first must be able to establish a strong local security force. Otherwise, heavy military supplies could end in the hands of Al-shabab, according to him. .
“There is no strong government in Somalia and Al-shabab remains big threat even for Ethiopia. Somalia’s government have right to find military equipment.”
The two countries have agreed to hold regular bilateral consultations and to collaborate in multilateral and regional forums to promote their common national interests on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two countries, according to the joint communiqué of the two governments released on September 30, 2022.
Somalia’s new leader is also trying to bring back 5,000 Somalian troops sent to Eritrea by Farmajo, the previous President, and stranded in Eritrea.