The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the Federal Government of Somalia say the lifting of the 31-year UN arms embargo on Somalia would give fresh impetus to the fight against the Al Shabaab and other armed groups in Somalia.
The African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef, and Somalia’s Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism Daud Aweis, told a joint press briefing the decision by the UN Security Council was a game changer in the 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. It is an important step in enhancing the operational capabilities of the Somali Security Forces, enabling them to combat Al-Shabaab more effectively,” Amb. Souef told journalists in Mogadishu.
ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding and other Senior ATMIS and Federal Government officials also attended the media briefing. Minister Aweis 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 has been 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 our borders,” he said.
The two officials reaffirmed their commitment to the ongoing military offensive against the Al-Shabaab and ensuring a smooth transition ahead of the start of the second phase of the ATMIS troop drawdown.
From next week, ATMIS would withdraw an additional 3,000 troops from Somalia in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2710 by 31 December 2023.
“I want to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the transition and drawdown process, ensuring we fulfil our mandate while also providing support for ongoing operations. We recognize the importance of balancing the drawdown with the need to maintain other vital operations,” said Amb. Souef.