23 June 2023
NEW YORK CITY – During the UN Security Council meeting on Somalia on June 22, 2023, His Excellency Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan, the Minister of State for the United Arab Emirates, spoke frankly about the escalating security threats in Somalia, focusing on the amplified activities of Al-Shabaab and the arms embargo on the country.
Al Nahyan, addressing the multinational forum, highlighted an alarming increase in terrorism-related incidents within the first quarter of 2023, surpassing any previously recorded quarterly averages since 2016. He noted with concern the group’s indiscriminate attacks on both civilian and security targets, including the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
A particularly nuanced part of Al Nahyan’s address concerned the arms embargo on Somalia, which has been in place since 1992. The embargo, intended to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of insurgent groups like Al-Shabaab, restricts the Somali government’s ability to import military hardware.
While Al Nahyan did not explicitly call for the lifting of the embargo, his statement delicately indicated the necessity for a more tailored approach. The UAE Minister suggested that the Security Council’s measures must be “fit for purpose,” implying that the arms embargo could potentially be reassessed to more effectively assist the Somali government’s efforts against Al-Shabaab.
This careful remark hints at a need for further international dialogue on the potential consequences and benefits of revising the embargo’s terms to aid the Somali government’s counter-terrorism operations without inadvertently strengthening insurgent groups.
Al Nahyan’s comments come at a time of rising international concern for Somalia’s security situation. It remains to be seen how the international community, and particularly the Security Council, will react to this indirect call for a reassessment.