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.
Diplomatic leaks: UAE dissatisfied with Saudi policies
AL JAZEERA — Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) is working on breaking up Saudi Arabia, leaked documents obtained by Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar revealed.
Al Akhbar said that the leaked documents contained secret diplomatic briefings sent by UAE and Jordanian ambassadors in Beirut to their respective governments.
One of the documents, issued on September 20, 2017, disclosed the outcome of a meeting between Jordan’s ambassador to Lebanon Nabil Masarwa and his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdel-Al al-Qenaie.
“The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed is working on breaking up the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the Jordanian envoy quoted the Kuwait ambassador as saying.
A second document, issued on September 28, 2017, reveals meeting minutes between the Jordanian ambassador and his UAE counterpart Hamad bin Saeed al-Shamsi.
The document said the Jordanian ambassador informed his government that UAE believes that “Saudi policies are failing both domestically and abroad, especially in Lebanon”.
“The UAE is dissatisfied with Saudi policies,” the Jordanian envoy said.
The Qatar vote
According to the leaks, UAE ambassador claims that Lebanon voted for Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in his bid to become head of UNESCO in October 2017.
“[Lebanese Prime Minister Saad] Hariri knew Lebanon was voting for Qatar,” the UAE ambassador said in a cable sent to his government on October 18, 2017.
In November last year, Hariri announced his shock resignation from the Saudi capital Riyadh.
He later deferred his decision, blaming Iran and its Lebanese ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, for his initial resignation. He also said he feared an assassination attempt.
Officials in Lebanon alleged that Hariri was held hostage by Saudi authorities, an allegation Hariri denied in his first public statement following his resignation speech.
Somalia’s Puntland region asks UAE to stay as Gulf split deepens
BOSASO, Somalia (Reuters) – Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region urged the United Arab Emirates not to close its security operations in the country after a dispute with the central government, saying the Gulf power was a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants.
The dispute goes to the heart of an increasingly troubled relationship between Gulf states – divided by their own disputes – and fractured Somalia, whose coastline sits close to key shipping routes and across the water from Yemen.
Analysts have said the complex standoff risks exacerbating an already explosive security situation on both sides of the Gulf of Aden, where militant groups launch regular attacks.
The central Somali government said on Wednesday it was taking over a military training program run by the UAE.
Days later the UAE announced it was pulling out, accusing Mogadishu of seizing millions of dollars from a plane, money it said was meant to pay soldiers.
“We ask our UAE friends, not only to stay, but to redouble their efforts in helping Somalia stand on its feet,” said the office of the president of Puntland, a territory that sits on the tip of the Horn of Africa looking out over the Gulf of Aden.
Ending UAE support, “will only help our enemy, particularly Al Shabaab and ISIS (Islamic State),” it added late on Monday.
Watch this presser. pic.twitter.com/wEH19WsG7t
— Abdisalam Aato (@AbdisalamAato) April 16, 2018
The UAE is one of a number of Gulf powers that have opened bases along the coast of the Horn of Africa and promised investment and donations as they compete for influence in the insecure but strategically important region.
That competition has been exacerbated by a diplomatic rift between Qatar and a bloc including the UAE. In turn, those splits have worsened divisions in Somalia.
Puntland, which has said it wants independence, has sought to woo the UAE which runs an anti-piracy training center there and is developing the main port. The central government in Mogadishu last year criticized Puntland for taking sides in the Gulf dispute. Qatar’s ally Turkey is one of Somalia’s biggest investors.
One Somali government official said last week Mogadishu had decided to take over the UAE operation because the Gulf state’s contract to run it had expired. Another official said the government was investigating the money taken from the plane.
The competition among Gulf states in Somalia has fueled accusations of foreign interference and resentment in many corners of Somali society.
The loss of the UAE program could have a destabilizing effect, said one security analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The value of the UAE trained forces was two-fold – they were relatively well trained but, most importantly, they were paid on time,” unlike other parts of the security forces, the analyst told Reuters.
Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991.