Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is in Djibouti to seek support for his country in the fight against al-Shabaab. The President’s travel does not come as a surprise. Djibouti is one of Somalia’s closest allies and an African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troop-contributing country.
Djibouti City, DJIBOUTI. By Dalmar:
Djibouti, a close neighbour and ally, 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 primary agenda of discussions between Hassan Sheikh and his Djiboutian counterpart, President Ismail Omar Guelleh, will likely revolve around Somalia’s request for a three-month postponement in the Djiboutian troops serving under ATMIS drawdown. ATMIS’ withdrawal has been a contentious issue.
On 14 September, the Somali government went to the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union. It reported that the situation in the country was good and asked to proceed with the 3,000 ATMIS troops’ withdrawal. Shockingly, the government even requested 851 police officers’ withdrawal in addition to the original plan.
In sharp contrast to these requests, only five days later, Hussein Sheikh Ali, the National Security Advisor, in a letter to the UN Security Council, reported that the Joint Technical Assessment (JTA), outlining the impact assessment of phase I drawdown, including threat assessment in Somalia, had found that the security situation in Somalia has been dire.
Phase II of ATMIS withdrawal started
The first Forward Operating Base (FOB) to be handed over to Somali government forces in the Phase II drawdown was Biyo Adde (Biyo Cadde) in the Middle Shabelle region. Until 17 September, this FOB was under the responsibility of the Burundi National Defence Forces, which is part of ATMIS. The phased withdrawal of ATMIS troops has been a significant development in Somalia’s security landscape, aiming to transfer more control to Somali government forces.
ATMIS drawdown follows the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2628 (2022), 2670 (2022), and 2687 (2023), which mandates ATMIS to draw down two thousand soldiers by June 2023 and a further three thousand by the end of September 2023.