President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia met with United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Djibouti yesterday. The meeting underscored the ongoing partnership between Somalia and the United States in the battle against terrorism, particularly al-Shabaab. Hassan Sheikh raised the issue of a longstanding arms embargo that, according to him, has hindered Somalia’s security efforts.
Djibouti City, DJIBOUTI. By Jama:
The United States has been a pivotal ally for Somalia in its fight against al-Shabaab. They have provided extensive support to the Somali National Army (SNA), including financial aid, troop training, equipment, air support, and, on occasion, ground support. The cooperation between the two nations has been instrumental in weakening the al-Shabaab insurgency, which has posed a significant threat to both Somalia and the wider region for years.
Following the meeting, Villa Somalia released a statement emphasizing the importance of strengthening the security partnership between the two nations. It underlined the joint commitment to the ongoing offensive against international terrorism, particularly against al-Shabaab, which continues to operate in various parts of Somalia.
Arms embargo again at the centre of talks
Moreover, the two discussed the decades-long arms embargo imposed on Somalia. The embargo was first implemented in 1992, following the collapse of the central government and subsequent civil war. Hassan Sheikh and his government often argue that it severely limits Somalia’s ability to acquire the military equipment needed to fight al-Shabaab.
Hassan Sheikh is not the only one constantly advocating for the lifting. The Somali Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, when addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Saturday, also fervently appealed for the lifting of the arms embargo.
Similarly to Hassan Sheikh, the Prime Minister argued that lifting the embargo is essential for the government to establish and strengthen national security forces capable of decisively defeating al-Shabaab. Mr Hamza also stressed the importance of achieving complete control of the country following the anticipated withdrawal of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forces by December 2024.
“In order to secure Somalia’s future and maintain stability, we urgently require the international community’s support, including the lifting of the arms embargo,” stated the Prime Minister. “Our goal is to establish capable and well-equipped national forces that can protect our people and territory effectively.”