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Lifting the arms embargo and its impact on stability: an analysis of developments in the Somali security situation

The country along the coasts of the Horn of Africa is still striving to progress step-by-step on the road to consolidating the presence of the state with its institutions, administrative units and legal authority, and many of its efforts were finally crowned with success, the latest of which was its extraction of its right as a state to import weapons from international partners and parties, including qualitative and heavy weapons. Somalia was able to end the arms embargo imposed on it since 1992, after the Security Council voted unanimously on Resolution 2714, where the members of the Security Council agreed. The 15-member group approved a draft resolution to lift the arms embargo on Somalia on December 1, 2023 [1].

Somalia, which has been torn by civil wars and internal divisions, in addition to external regional and international political and military interventions, has made political and security chaos and economic deterioration the general feature inherent in this country for three consecutive decades. One of the consequences of the turmoil and chaos that prevailed after the collapse of the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre was the United Nations decision to place Somalia under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations in January 1992, and the decision came with the aim of protecting civilians and under the pretext that the situation in Somalia threatens world peace, so one of the provisions of this resolution was to ban the export of weapons and their entry into Somalia to prevent them from reaching internal warlords and clan and extremist militias [2].

But it turned out that the resolution was not carefully studied, as it did not achieve what was required in terms of protecting civilians or preventing the armament of the parties to the civil war, as the flow of light weapons continued in illegal ways, which ensured the continuity and escalation of the armed conflict, because that situation produced a state of parity of power between the government forces on the one hand and between the tribal and extremist armed factions on the other, preventing military resolution and the armed conflict reached a state of intractability and long-term attrition, and of course it continued simultaneously with it. Many innocent civilians have lost their lives and the political and economic situation in the country has deteriorated.

Successive Somali governments have struggled to break this arbitrary and ill-considered embargo, and the international community has gradually realized that this resolution has not achieved its intended usefulness, but taking practical steps to remedy and address its negative consequences has been very slow. Despite the international slowdown, some changes and decisions taken by the international community have relaxed the arms embargo on Somalia, including Security Council Resolution 1356 adopted in June 2001, which allowed specific exemptions allowing the transitional government to supply non-lethal military supplies, and this decision was aimed at supporting the newly established Somali Transitional Government at the Arta Conference in 2000, followed by several Security Council actions that contributed to a partial lifting of the embargo on the Somali security forces, and the international armed forces and missions provided to support the transitional government and consolidate its rule contributed to arming the Somali forces [3].

Therefore, it is not surprising that the Somali official and popular welcome the recent Security Council resolution, because this will favor the Ramsiya armed forces in their conflict with non-state and extremist armed factions, especially Al-Shabaab, as lifting the embargo will support the process of rebuilding and restructuring the Somali armed forces, improving the ability of government forces to control security and extend the federal government’s control over all Somali regions, in addition to protecting and controlling land borders, and this will reduce the risk of maritime piracy, which is already less dangerous in the country in recent years. Many countries welcomed this decision, led by Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and others [4], and many countries look positively towards the decision, which will support efficiency and combat effectiveness towards the “Al-Shabab” movement, which is internationally classified as a terrorist organization.

Perhaps the most important significance of this decision is the success of the Somali government in gaining the confidence of the international community, which was missing for decades, as the lack of international confidence in the Somali government caused the embargo to be imposed from the beginning, as a result of fears that imported weapons would fall into the hands of Somali tribes and Al-Shabaab, and now this decision comes as a sign of the success of the Somali federal government in proving that it addresses weaknesses, corruption and administrative and governmental disintegration in its institutions, and thus restores the confidence of the international community in its ability to control the import and control of quality weapons and modern ones that will enter the service of government forces.

The decision will also lead to achieving self-sufficiency in security for Somalia, and the effective restoration of the state’s sovereignty and independence as a result of strengthening its military capabilities, thus dispensing with the Somali government from relying on international forces present on its territory, which will accelerate the withdrawal process of the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMES) on its scheduled date in December of the end of this year without an official request from the Somali side to extend the stay of its forces [5].

To know the extent of the impact of this decision on the security future of Somalia and its role in achieving stability, the bet remains on the ability of the Somali government to implement its commitments to the international community, related to controlling the process of importing weapons and employing them in the legitimate and required fields, the most important of which is combating the organization “Al-Shabaab Mujahideen”, and also the assessment of the outcome of the decision depends on assessing the future results of the clash between government forces and Al-Shabaab militants, and knowing the extent of the change that the implementation of the resolution has brought about to tipping the balance of the battle in favor of government forces, and the extent of regression of Al-Shabaab and its declining danger and control. Somali officials seem confident in their ability to fulfil their responsibilities to national public opinion and to the international community, and their statements suggest optimism about the ability of high-quality and modern weapons to change the course of the battle in favor of government forces and deal fatal and decisive blows to the militants of the extremist group al-Shabaab.

References:

[1] “The Security Council lifts the arms embargo on Somalia imposed since 1992.” , Anadolu Agency, 2/12/2023, https://n9.cl/qcwz9.

[2] Gedi, Nur, “Lifting the arms embargo on Somalia: an opportunity to undermine the influence of al-Shabaab”, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 26/12/2023, https://2u.pw/w6b03Z6.

[3] Mohamud, Suhaib, “What does lifting the arms embargo on Somalia mean?” , The New Arab, 8/12/2023, https://2u.pw/6APia9J.

[4] “The Desired Results of Lifting the Arms Embargo on Somalia”, Somali readings, 4/12/2023, https://2u.pw/OTBr5LJ.

[5] Askar, Ahmed, “Mogadishu Rehabilitation: Possible Implications of Security Council Lifting of Somalia Arms Embargo”, Interregional Strategic Analysis, 6/12/2023, https://2u.pw/6i4rtsS.

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SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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