Connect with us

Briefing Room

AMISOM Reauthorisation



Tomorrow (30 August), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution reauthorising the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until 31 May 2018. The draft resolution was put into blue on 25 August after two fairly straightforward rounds of expert-level negotiations.

The draft text reflects the recommendations of the recent joint AU-UN review of AMISOM, requested in paragraph 24 of resolution 2297 (2016), and focuses on the gradual handover of security responsibility to the Somali security forces. The draft welcomes the recommendation of the review for a gradual and phased reduction and reorganisation of AMISOM’s uniformed personnel in order to provide a greater support role to the Somali security forces as they progressively take the lead for security in Somalia. It emphasises that the long-term objective for Somalia, with the support of its international partners, is that Somali security forces assume full responsibility for the country’s security.

Accordingly, the draft resolution reauthorises AMISOM until 31 May, and decides to reduce the level of uniformed AMISOM personnel to a maximum level of 21,626 troops (a reduction of 500 from the previous authorisation) by 31 December. The draft resolution also stipulates that this figure should include a minimum of 1,040 AMISOM police personnel including five Formed Police Units. A second drawdown phase is also outlined in the resolution, which, in line with the recommendations of the joint review, calls for a further reduction to 20,626 personnel by 30 October 2018.

It seems that there was some discussion among Council members concerning the timing of the second phase of drawdown. France, supported by the US, proposed that the pace of reduction could be accelerated and suggested that the second phase be slated for April, instead of October, 2018, a suggestion that it seems was at least partly motivated by the potential cost savings. However, other members felt that the Council was not in a position to override the recommendations of the joint review, which involved extensive contacts with AMISOM, Somali security forces, the AU, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and others. The draft in blue thus retains the date recommended by the review, but stipulates that the Council can decide “to accelerate the pace of the reduction, taking into account the capabilities of the Somali security forces”.

While the previous resolution on AMISOM lists the mission’s primary strategic objective for AMISOM as reducing the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups, the draft in blue lists as the primary objective enabling the gradual handing over of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces, contingent on the abilities of the Somali security forces and political and security progress in Somalia. It also decides to reconfigure the mission, as security conditions allow, in favour of police personnel within the authorised AMISOM personnel ceiling.

The draft resolution also requests the Secretary-General to conduct a comprehensive assessment of AMISOM by 15 April 2018, working closely with the AU and the Federal Government of Somalia, to take stock of the transition, including the development of Somali security institutions, and to make recommendations on the progressive transition from AMISOM to Somali security responsibility including over the electoral period. It seems that a few Council members felt that the process of conducting another time-consuming review in such a short time span would prove too cumbersome. However, the majority of members felt that such assessment will provide the Council with the information necessary for their future deliberations on the drawdown, and ultimately the language was retained.

The issue of financing for AMISOM is also raised in the draft text through language introduced by Ethiopia and supported by the other African members—Egypt and Senegal—as well as other members. The AU has called upon the Council to provide funding for the mission through UN assessed contributions, a call echoed by the African members of the Council, but not supported by the US. Ethiopia, preferring to work towards that end gradually, proposed previously-agreed language from resolution 2320 of 18 November 2016, which welcomed the AU’s efforts to create a predictable cost-sharing structure for the funding of peace support operations authorised by the Council.

Thus, using agreed language, the text “stresses the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for AU-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council and under the Security Council’s authority consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter”. The resolution also urges the Secretary-General, AU and partners to explore in earnest funding arrangements for AMISOM, bearing in mind the full range of options available to the UN, AU, EU and other partners, and considering the limitations of voluntary funding, and looks forward to the Secretary-General’s report on the future funding of AMISOM by November 2017. This issue is expected to be on the agenda of the joint consultative meeting of members of the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council on 8 September.

Regarding the responsibilities of the government, the draft resolution recognises that the primary responsibility for security lies with the Somali people and institutions, and welcomes the historic political agreement on the National Security Architecture by the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States on 17 April 2017, underlining the importance of its swift implementation. Recognising that Al-Shabaab will not be defeated by military means alone, the draft resolution encourages the Federal Government of Somalia, with the support of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), to continue to take a comprehensive approach to security, in line with the Security Pact and the New Partnership Agreement for Somalia, and to implement Somalia’s National Strategy and Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in order to strengthen Somalia’s capacity to prevent and counter terrorism.

Concerning international cooperation, the draft resolution welcomes the commitment of international partners to provide additional and more effective support through the implementation mechanisms agreed at the London Somalia Conference held in May, including more coordinated delivery of mentoring, training, equipment, capacity building, and remuneration of police and military forces, consistent with the Security Pact agreed at the London Conference. It also emphasises the important role of UNSOM in assisting the government in coordinating international donor support for security sector assistance.

Briefing Room

US military responsible for instability in Somalia: Analyst



The US is increasing its military involvement in Africa to destabilize the continent’s governments and gain control over their resources and strategic ports, an African American researcher in Washington says.

The Pentagon revealed on Thursday that the United States now has some 500 troops on the ground in Somalia even as it denies a “build-up” of forces in the African country.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has also said that there have been 28 US airstrikes in Somalia this year, mostly from drones and against purported al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants.

“Somalia is a very important area for both American businesses as well as a means to counter-balance against its regional adversaries,” Randy Short told Press TV on Friday.

“In the case of Somalia, Somalia is rich in oil, gold and it has got its ports in the Red Sea and in the Indian Ocean,” Short said.

“Any instability in Somalia is Unites States’ fault,” he said. “The United States has been tampering with Somalia for the better part of thirty five years.”
The US is deploying militant groups and mercenaries to Africa to “create problems to justify the armed presence of US forces in places like Niger, the Central African Republic, Mali and of course Somalia,” he said.

The US military recently conducted six straight days of airstrikes in Somalia — from last Thursday to Tuesday, according to US media.

AFRICOM was established in 2008 under then US President George W. Bush and strengthened and enhanced the following year during the presidency of Barack Obama.

The force has been operating in at least 35 countries across the African continent.

Continue Reading

Briefing Room

Saving Somalia Through Debt Relief




Kevin Charles Watkins is the Chief Executive of Save the Children UK

Somalia needs humanitarian aid to stem its short-term suffering, but that cash will not break the country’s deadly cycles of drought, hunger, and poverty. To do that, the IMF must forgive Somalia’s crushing debt, just as it has for nearly every other heavily indebted poor country.

LONDON – Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, once asked his country’s creditors a blunt question: “Must we starve our children to pay our debts?” That was in 1986, before the public campaigns and initiatives that removed much of Africa’s crushing and unpayable debt burden. But Nyerere’s question still hangs like a dark cloud over Somalia.

Over the last year, an unprecedented humanitarian effort has pulled Somalia back from the brink of famine. As the worst drought in living memory destroyed harvests and decimated livestock, almost $1 billion was mobilized in emergency aid for nutrition, health, and clean water provision. That aid saved many lives and prevented a slow-motion replay of the 2011 drought, when delayed international action resulted in nearly 260,000 deaths.

Yet, even after these recent efforts, Somalia’s fate hangs in the balance. Early warning systems are pointing to a prospective famine in 2018. Poor and erratic rains have left 2.5 million people facing an ongoing food crisis; some 400,000 children live with acute malnutrition; food prices are rising; and dry wells have left communities dependent on expensive trucked water.

Humanitarian aid remains essential. Almost half of Somalia’s 14 million people need support, according to UN agencies. But humanitarian aid, which is often volatile and overwhelmingly short-term, will not break the deadly cycles of drought, hunger, and poverty. If Somalia is to develop its health and education systems, economic infrastructure, and the social protection programs needed to build a more resilient future, it needs predictable, long-term development finance.

Debt represents a barrier to that finance. Somalia’s external debt is running at $5 billion. Creditors range from rich countries like the United States, France, and Italy, to regional governments and financial institutions, including the Arab Monetary Fund.

But Somalia’s debt also includes $325 million in arrears owed to the International Monetary Fund. And there’s the rub: countries in arrears to the IMF are ineligible to receive long-term financing from other sources, including the World Bank’s $75 billion concessional International Development Association (IDA) facility.

Much of the country’s current debt dates to the Cold War, when the world’s superpower rivalry played out in the Horn of Africa. Over 90% of Somalia’s debt burden is accounted for by arrears on credit advanced in the early 1980s, well before two-thirds of today’s Somali population was born.

Most of the lending then was directed to President Siad Barre as a reward for his abandonment of the Soviet Union and embrace of the West. Military credits figured prominently: over half of the $973 million in US debt is owed to the Department of Defense. Somalia got state-of-the-art weaponry, liberally financed by loans. The IMF was nudged into guaranteeing repayment through a structural adjustment program.  Repaying the debt today would cost every Somali man, woman, and child $361.

None of this would matter if Somalia had qualified for debt reduction. The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), created in response to the great debt relief campaigns of the 1990s, has written off around $77 billion in debt for 36 countries. Somalia is one of just three countries that have yet to qualify. The reason: the arrears owed to the IMF. (Eritrea and Sudan have also not qualified, for similar reasons).

The IMF view is that Somalia, like earlier HIPC beneficiaries, should establish a track record of economic reform. This will delay a full debt write-off for up to three years, exclude Somalia from long-term development finance, and reinforce its dependence on emergency aid. Other creditors have endorsed this approach through silent consent.

Somalia deserves better. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s government has demonstrated a commitment to economic reform, improved accountability, and transparency. For two years, it has adhered to an IMF program, achieving targets for improving public finance and the banking sector. More needs to be done, especially in terms of domestic resource mobilization. But this is the first Somali government to provide the international community with a window of opportunity to support recovery. We must capitalize on it.

Waiting three more years as Somalia ticks the IMF’s internal accounting boxes would be a triumph of bureaucratic complacency over human needs. Without international support, Somalia’s government lacks the resources needed to break the deadly cycle of drought, hunger, and poverty.

Somalia’s children need investment in health, nutrition, and schools now, not at some point in the indefinite future. Investing in irrigation and water management would boost productivity. With drought-related livestock and crop losses estimated at around $1.5 billion, government-supported cash payment programs would help aid recovery, strengthen resilience, and build trust.

The benefits of these investments would extend to security. Providing the hope that comes with education, health care, and the prospect of a job is a far more effective weapon than a drone to combat an insurgency that feeds on despair, poverty, joblessness, and the absence of basic services.

There is an alternative to IMF-sponsored inertia on debt relief. The World Bank and major creditors could convene a creditor summit to agree to terms for a prompt debt write-off. More immediately, the World Bank could seek its shareholders’ approval for a special mechanism – a “pre-arrears clearance grant” – that would enable Somalia to receive IDA financing. There is a precedent for this: In 2005, the US championed World Bank financing for Liberia, which at the time had significant IMF debt after emerging from civil war.

The technicalities can be discussed and the complexities resolved. But we should not lose sight of what is at stake. It is indefensible for the IMF and other creditors to obstruct Somalia’s access to financing because of arrears on a debt incurred three decades ago as much through reckless lending as through irresponsible borrowing.

Somalia’s children played no part in creating that debt. They should not have to pay for it with their futures.

Continue Reading

Briefing Room

UNSC votes to extend sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia



The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend an arms embargo imposed on Eritrea and Somalia for allegedly supporting al-Shabaab. The decision comes barely a week after a panel of experts called for the lifting of sanctions particularly on Somalia. CGTN’s Liling Tan filed this report from New York

Continue Reading