US: Somalia on right track in bid to have arms embargo lifted
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The federal government of Somalia is on the right course to have the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] lifted, a top US diplomat has confirmed, as the country prepares for the second phase of a crackdown against Al-Shabaab militants who have been losing strategic towns lately.
Somalia is set for the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab in the Holy month of Ramadan which has started, with the security teams aiming to comb areas that were liberated before focusing on regions that are still under the control of the Al-Qada-linked group.
Larry Andre, the US ambassador to Mogadishu, told a security conference that the Horn of Africa nation is on the right course for reprieve which would significantly aid the momentum in the Al-Shabaab war which has started to take shape. The country has been serving bans due to the unregulated purchase and ownership of weapons.
"President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration is taking decisive steps to meet the sanctions regime benchmarks. Doing so benefits Somalia and addresses the UN Security Council’s criteria for lifting the sanctions regime," he said during weapons and ammunition conference.
"We welcome the Federal Government of Somalia’s commendable progress on weapons and stockpile management. The modifications in the current resolution reflect that progress and recognize the work Somalia continues to achieve," added the envoy.
The United States Government, he said, remains committed to continuing its support for Somalia’s success and ensuring Somali forces can obtain the weapons they need to defeat al-Shabaab while mitigating the risk that weapons fall into the wrong hands.
For instance, he said, over the last five years, through our great partnership with the HALO Trust and Somali Security forces, the US eliminated 15 tons of obsolete, unusable, and unstable ammunition. "Our partnership has trained over 225 personnel in physical security and stockpile management to ensure facilities are utilized safely and effectively, according to international best practices," he added.
"We are proud of this work that has made the armory significantly safer both for the Somali security force personnel who use it, and the population that lives and works nearby. I would like to recognize the HALO Trust for this important work."
Initially, most weapons were being smuggled to the country from neighboring Yemen but the government has put measures to curb the menace. The United Nations estimates that over $24 million is used by Al-Shabaab annually to purchase weapons mostly from foreign nations thus the arms embargo.
The US and other international partners have been pushing for regulated buying of weapons in Somalia as a strategy to control ownership which is linked to the destabilization of the country. Al-Shabaab has been working hard to dethrone the fragile UN-backed federal government for almost two decades.