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May 11, 2024

Somalia Calls for Termination of UN Peace Mission Amidst Shift in Security Dynamics

Somalia Seeks End to UN Mission as Security Landscape Shifts

Somalia has formally requested the United Nations to terminate its political mission in the country, signaling a significant shift in its approach to peace efforts amidst ongoing challenges posed by the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab.

In a letter addressed to the Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi outlined the decision, emphasizing that it came after careful consideration of the nation’s strategic priorities. Fiqi urged for the swift conclusion of procedures necessary for the termination of the mission, known as UNSOM, before its current mandate expires on October 31.

The UN mission has played a crucial role in supporting Somalia’s government and collaborating with African Union peacekeepers to combat al-Shabab and promote stability. However, recent developments indicate a changing security landscape, with the AU peacekeeping mission, ATMIS, scaling back its presence and planning to transfer security responsibilities to Somali forces by the year’s end.

Somalia’s journey towards stability has been marred by decades of civil war and the presence of armed extremist groups. Despite establishing a transitional government in 2012, the nation continues to grapple with security challenges, including attacks by al-Shabab and piracy in its waters.

Al-Shabab’s intensified assaults on Somali military bases last year underscored the group’s resilience, even after losing control of some rural territories to military offensives. In response to these threats, the Somali president called for a total war on the extremist group in 2022, leading to increased military operations against them.

Since its establishment in June 2013, UNSOM has supported peace and reconciliation efforts, providing strategic policy advice to the Somali government and the AU peacekeeping mission. Its mandate includes promoting human rights, empowering women, protecting children, and preventing conflict-related violence.

In his letter dated May 5, Foreign Minister Fiqi expressed gratitude to UNSOM for its role in promoting peace and stability. He emphasized the government’s readiness to transition to the next phase of partnership, focusing on long-term development priorities in collaboration with the UN and its partners.

Acknowledging the complexity of the transition process, Fiqi highlighted President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s request for a planning process to shift from a political mission to a UN country team, which typically focuses on development issues. This transition is expected to proceed through distinct stages, with planning commencing shortly.

Meanwhile, efforts to bolster Somalia’s security capabilities continue, with the United States agreeing to construct up to five military bases for the Somali army. These bases, associated with the Danab Brigade established in 2017, aim to enhance the country’s ability to counter threats from al-Shabab. The Danab Brigade, composed of 3,000 men and women, has played a crucial role as a quick-reaction force in combating extremist activities.

As Somalia navigates these changes in its security landscape, the transition from a UN political mission to a development-focused approach marks a significant step towards addressing long-standing challenges and building a stable, prosperous future for the nation.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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