ATMIS exit will give Al-Shabaab more room to attack, AU says

FILE - Ugandan peacekeepers with the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) stand next to their armored vehicle on a street in Mogadishu, Somalia, May 10, 2022

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The ongoing withdrawal of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] could give Al-Shabaab more room to terrorize innocent civilians in the Horn of Africa nation, the African Union Peace and Security Council has said, in the latest statement which could trigger a review.

In compliance with the Somali Transition Plan [STP], the AU had recommended the withdrawal of ATMIS troops with the schedule indicating that by the end of 2024, most of them would have moved out of the country and handed over security responsibilities to the Somali National Army [SNA].

Already, over 2000 soldiers left in June 2023 and an additional 3000 are expected to leave by the end of this month, a move which the Continental Security Council says might compromise security arrangements within Somalia, a country struggling with instability.

However, the 15-member Council which endorsed the withdrawal of an additional 3,000 ATMIS troops ‘without any conditions’ by 30 September 2023 said the pull-out must be done equitably to prevent any security gap. All Troops Contributing Countries are given a certain number for withdrawal.

In their communique, the council insists on equitable withdrawal to prevent further security lapses at the time Somalia is engaged in various operations against Al-Shabaab. Over 3,000 Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the first phase of operations within Galmadug and HirShabelle states.

But the second phase dubbed Operation Black Lion Mission has been delayed due to ongoing combing exercises within the central states. The US Africa Command and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] are taking part in the operations, but mainly offering auxiliary support.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud believes that the mission will be successful but has since asked for assistance from the non-ATMIS troops attached to Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, further raising questions about the effectiveness of the ongoing crackdown across the country.


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