Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh cites Afghanistan as a warning for Somalia. In a recent interview, the President commented on Somalia’s request regarding a three-month extension of the 2nd phase drawdown of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops and whether Djibouti supports this request.
Djibouti City, DJIBOUTI. By Dalmar:
Djiboutian President emphasized the significance of the upcoming months. He warned that without proper preparation, Somalia could face a situation similar to Afghanistan when American troops withdrew from the country. He stated that if the drawdown proceeds hastily, the hopes of the Somali people will be dashed even further.
When asked if he supports the extension, President Guelleh agreed that Somalia needs to keep the African troops for at least three more months. This raises doubts about the progress of the Somali Transitional Plan (STP). The plan aims to transfer security responsibilities to the Government of Somalia by December 2024. Djibouti is one of the crucial Troops Contributing Countries (TCC) in Somalia. The President’s concerns raise questions about the feasibility of the troop withdrawal timeline.
Preventing security vacuum
The ATMIS drawdown and the subsequent handover of security responsibilities to the Somali government are critical steps in Somalia’s long-term stability and peace-building efforts. President Guelleh’s comments highlight the need for careful planning and coordination to prevent any security vacuums that al-Shabaab could exploit.
The voices of TCCs, such as Djibouti, should be considered during the decision-making process. It is essential to prioritize the security and stability of Somalia while also addressing the concerns of regional stakeholders. Finding a balanced approach that allows for a responsible drawdown while maintaining security gains is paramount for the success of the Somali Transitional Plan and long-term stability in Somalia.
Hassan Sheikh in Djibouti
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited Djibouti two weeks ago to seek support for his country in the fight against al-Shabaab. Djibouti, a close ally and a neighbour, has been a steadfast partner in Somalia’s counterterrorism efforts. It actively contributed troops to ATMIS, playing a pivotal role in Somalia’s security landscape.
The discussions between Hassan Sheikh and Omar Guelleh revolved around Somalia’s request for the three-month postponement of the drawdown of the Djiboutian troops. The withdrawal has been a contentious issue.