Somalia: Extending UN arms ban hinders war on terror

A Somali senior official warned that a UN Security Council resolution earlier this month to extend an arms embargo on the country would prolong the survival of terrorist organizations in the Horn of Africa region.

The extension of arms embargo on Mogadishu would support the two terrorist organizations of al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS in Somalia and “undermine the war against them [terrorists],” despite governmental and African efforts to defeat them, National Security Adviser Abdisaid Mohamed Ali told Anadolu Agency.

On Nov. 15, the UN Security Council passed a resolution extending more than a decade-long arms embargo on Somalia by one year, saying the move was aimed at preventing al-Shabaab from acquiring arms, chemicals and bomb-making components.

While Russia, China and Equatorial Guinea were against the extension of the arms embargo, Somalia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Abukar Osman has also criticized the arms embargo, telling local media that it is outdated and “falls short of taking into account Somalia’s positive new reality on the ground”.

“Everyday, the operations of al-Shabaab terrorist movement has been killing our heroes of the security forces, because of their [security forces’] lack of military capabilities,” said Ali.

The embargo, he added, “is not compatible with [the rights of] an internationally recognized state”.

“Since Somalia is a legitimate state, it has the right to import arms to strengthen the capabilities of its military forces to defend its people, security and borders, but unfortunately the Security Council resolution prevented that, which enables terrorists to continue in their activities, threatening the Horn of Africa,” he noted.

The extension of the embargo, he continued, not only affects the capabilities of the security forces, but also economically and socially depletes Somalia, posing additional burdens on the Somali society — which has been looking forward to restoring stability since the collapse of the central government in 1991″.

Arab, African efforts to lift arms embargo on Somalia

The Somali official added that there have been governmental efforts to convince the Security Council to lift the arms embargo to enable the government to perform its duty in defending its people and land.

He also referred to Arab and African demands to lift the embargo, including that of the Arab League, African Union, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“The Somali government will keep its efforts in cooperation with its friends in the international community in order to activate the file of lifting the embargo once again,” he added.

Kenya, al-Shabaab movement

Although the al-Shabaab rebel movement has been carrying out armed attacks against the Somali forces as well as the African peacekeepers, the Somali government refuses to include the group on the international list of terrorist organizations.

On Aug. 28, the UN Security Council also rejected a draft resolution submitted by Kenya, Somalia’s neighbor, to include the organization on the list.

Ali described the draft resolution proposed by Nairobi a “punishment to Somalia at all levels”.

“Al-Shabaab is a terrorist organization, where the Security Council has already passed resolution 751 to militarily and economically fight against it, and this is enough to eradicate its roots,” he said.

But he added that the project to include al-Shabaab in the international list of terrorism is a “hostile step against Somalia behind which Kenya stands”.

“Kenya has sought to pass the project not to defeat terrorism, but because it has hidden agendas against Somalia, and wants to punish the Somali people, under the pretext of fighting against the terrorist movement,” he said.

If Kenya was serious in this matter, it should have consulted with Somalia, he added.

Somalia sought hindering this project to include the al-Shabaab movement on the international terror list, considering that, it would put the Somali traders at risk, possibly blacklisting them or reducing the investment flows in the country, he added.

Drying up financial sources of al-Shabaab movement

On whether the drying up of the financial sources of al-Shabaab movement requires international cooperation, Ali said: “The al-Shabaab movement is financed from two important sources, one internal and the other external”.

“The government should dry up internal [financial] sources in accordance with local laws,” he added.

He noted that “security operations launched by government forces against areas under al-Shabaab’s control come as part of the government’s efforts to dry up the sources of the movement’s income.”

The organization loses a source of income whenever it loses an area, which in turn affects its terrorist operations, Ali added.

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