Somalia welcomes full lifting of arms embargo by UN Security Council

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Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (R) addresses a press conference next to Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 19, 2014. Mohamud is running for re-election as president of Somalia. KELD NAVNTOFT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

MOGADISHU -- Somalia has welcomed the decision of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to lift the arms embargo which was imposed 31 years ago, saying it will enable the country to tackle emerging security threats in the country.

In separate statements, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said the UNSC's move will support Somalia's efforts in maintaining peace, fostering stability, and promoting economic development.

President Mohamud said the decision grants Somalis the freedom to purchase weapons and request lethal arsenal from countries that support Somalia.

"Somalia can now access weapons, buy them from other countries, and borrow weapons from our friends so that we can defeat the terrorist group," he said in a televised speech delivered Friday night.

The president lauded the government's efforts in securing this breakthrough, emphasizing its role in strengthening the country's defense capabilities and advancing the fight against terrorism.

He said the government will make sure that it controls and manages the flow of weapons, aiming to reduce misuse and illegal purchase of weapons by individuals rather than the government.

The UN Security Council on Friday adopted two separate resolutions to renew the sanctions regime on Somalia-based al-Shabab and to lift the arms embargo on the Somali government, a crucial step forward in the country's efforts to stabilize and strengthen its security forces.

Resolution 2713 decides to renew Dec. 15, 2024, the sanctions regime on al-Shabab, including the authorization for maritime interdiction to enforce the embargo on illicit arms imports, the charcoal export ban, and the improvised explosive device components ban.

Resolution 2713 also decides to renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts that assist the Sanctions Committee, till Jan. 15, 2025.

The resolution won 14 votes in favor out of the 15 Security Council members. France abstained.

The Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution to lift the arms embargo on the Somali government.

The embargo was imposed in 1992 in response to the country's civil war that had considerably constrained Somalia's ability to secure arms and ammunition to combat security threats, notably the militant group al-Shabab.

The prime minister said the UNSC's decision to end the 31-year arms embargo on Somalia will enable the country to rebuild its security forces and ensure national stability. "The decision paves the way for the government's increased capacity to take over security, including responsibility from African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forces, and in the fight against al-Shabab."

Resolution 2714 calls on Somalia to continue to implement the National Weapons and Ammunition Management Strategy and take all measures necessary to ensure that weapons, ammunition, and military equipment imported for official use are not resold to, transferred to, or made available for use by any individual or entity not in the service of the federal government.

It calls on the international community to continue to provide additional support to develop weapons and ammunition management capacity in Somalia and encourages partners to coordinate their efforts to support Somalia in implementing the requirements of this resolution.

Somalia said the Council's historic vote on Dec. 1 marks a pivotal moment in the country's journey towards enhanced national security and stability.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the lifting of the arms embargo is a testament to the collective efforts and unwavering commitment of the international community to support Somalia in its pursuit of lasting peace.

"This crucial development will significantly bolster the capabilities of the Somali National Army, enabling it to acquire the required equipment necessary to effectively combat terrorist threats and eradicate them from our country," the ministry said.

It said achieving this milestone has been possible through the government's collective effort, marked by tireless diplomatic initiatives and strategic alliances with key nations. The ministry said the success of these endeavors underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing shared security challenges.

"We express our sincere gratitude to all member states of the Security Council for their positive role in recognizing and prioritizing Somalia's national security imperatives. The decision to lift the arms embargo reflects a collective commitment to supporting Somalia's efforts in maintaining peace, fostering stability, and promoting economic development," it said.

Somalia has several times asked the UNSC to lift the arms embargo so it could strengthen its security forces to take on the militants that have engaged the government in nearly daily attacks across the country since 2006 to try to establish its own rule.

"We celebrate the removal of this impediment, heralding a new chapter of resilience, progress, and prosperity for the people of Somalia," the foreign ministry said.  

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