The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has played a decisive role in the Somali government’s reconquest of territory in the southern part of the country from the rebel group Al Shabab.
AMISOM was created in January 2007. The United Nations Security Council authorized the African Union to deploy troops in Somalia in February 2007, and has periodically renewed that mandate. The most recent renewal came in November 2012, when “the council extended the AMISOM peacekeeping mission for four months, instead of the usual 12, to allow for a review of operations, including consideration of the request to lift the arms embargo and a call for permission to resume the export of stocks of charcoal.” The request to lift the embargo, which has been in place since 1992, comes from AMISOM. Introductory commentary on the charcoal issue can be found here.
The new mandate will expire around March 7, and regional leaders have begun calling for its extension. In December, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud released a joint statement calling for the mandate’s renewal. This week, Uganda’s Chief of Land Forces General Katumba Wamala (bio here) added his voice:
“Somalia is like a baby that is still suckling. She needs all the support from the rest of the world,” Katumba said recently in Somalia, where he is currently on the on-spot assesment of the peace operations. Uganda is the leading contributor to the military and police components of the mission.
The AMISOM mission is supported by mainly the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union. “The capacity for Somalia to stand on its own and survive as a country are not yet in place, irrespective of the efforts the world has been putting in,” Katumba said. He explained that in the last few years, tremendous steps have been taken in trying to revive the country, but more support is still needed.
I would be very surprised to see AMISOM leave Somalia in March. It will be interesting, though, to see what happens with the arms embargo issue and the charcoal issue.
I would be shocked if AMISOM wasn’t extended – it wouldn’t make any sense unless finances are lacking. Too much has been risked and gained over the last two years to risk everything now.
Also seems to be a tendency to believe that Mali’s crisis can be solved with Somalia’s international “model” of mixing African ground troops and Western technical capabilities. However Somalia’s mission has ballooned to a large size – the forces and time involved here are closer to Mali’s needs than current predictions of troop levels and time-lines.
It’s generally true of these issues. No one wants to put up the money and soldiers actually needed so they keep hoping stop-gap measures will be enough, usually making the ultimate resolution that much further off and that much more expensive. You could probably explain a great deal of international politics with ‘they didn’t hope they could fix it, they just hoped that they could keep the problem from exploding on them’.
Before the arms embargo is lifted, the powers that be should take stock of the law of unintended consequences. Surely, those powers don’t relish the dreary reality of their trained and armed forces defecting to the very forces they were trying to defeat in the first place. It happened in Mali. Why not in So[Mali]?
Hasty lifting of the embargo will result in decades of anguish. Neither, may I add, giving the lion’s share of So[Mali] aid to AMISOM is the panacea of our problems. They are mostly in it for their own interests.
Lifting the embargo, in my thinking, should be at the table AFTER So[Mali] political elites execute their first free, fair, one-man one-vote nation-wide election, embark on real reconciliation, and federal constitution process finalized. That is four years from now at the earliest.