Expected Council Action
In May, the Council is expected to renew its authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which expires on 31 May. The Council will also receive a briefing on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which will be followed by consultations. The mandate of UNSOM expires on 27 March 2019.
Key Recent Developments
On 27 March, the Council adopted resolution 2408, which renewed UNSOM with no major changes to its mandate. The resolution underscored the importance of the mission’s support to the Somali government-led political process and the federal government’s preparations for 2020-2021 elections. The Council also requested continued support for the government’s efforts to implement the country’s National Strategy and Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.
Speaking after the adoption, Somali Permanent Representative Abukar Dahir Osman said that, while there may be nuanced differences in how Council members assessed the current situation, they were united in recognising the important role that the UN would continue to play in promoting peace and stability in his country. He said he remained deeply concerned about comments periodically made by senior UNSOM officials at conferences on political issues that are sometimes erroneous, which have negative effects in the Security Council and in Somalia.
Osman also noted that Somalia’s parliament had voted earlier that month to unanimously reject the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Dubai Ports World agreement with the regional authority of Somaliland and that, two years ago, the UAE signed an agreement with Somaliland regional authorities to establish a military base in Berbera without the consent of the federal government. He said the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea maintains that the establishment of a foreign military base in Berbera, involving the transfer of military materiel to the territory, would constitute a violation of the arms embargo on Somalia and asserted that these actions are in clear violation of international law, the UN Charter, and the norms of international relations and international cooperation. Therefore, he said, the federal government called for the Council to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its mandate, to maintain international peace and security, put an end to those actions, and ensure the implementation of its resolution on Somalia.
Tensions between the speaker of parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari, and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed resulted in a standoff at the parliament on 4 April that threatened to turn violent. Allies of the president and prime minister sought to put forward a no-confidence motion against Jawari, reflecting a longstanding dispute over the exercise of legislative and executive powers. Parliamentary police loyal to Jawari deployed inside the parliament to prevent a vote on the motion while state security forces loyal to the president were stationed outside the building. The standoff ended peacefully after AMISOM intervened to encourage the sides to engage in dialogue. On 9 April, Jawari resigned ahead of another planned no-confidence vote.
On 8 April, a day before Jawari’s resignation, Somali security services seized a $9.6 million cache of money at Mogadishu airport that had arrived from Abu Dhabi, further raising tensions with the UAE. The cash was placed in Somalia’s central bank pending an investigation. The UAE asserted the money was to pay the salaries of Somali soldiers and trainees. On 16 April, the UAE announced it was ending its military training mission in Somalia.
Regarding AMISOM, on 2 March, a summit for troop-contributing countries (TCCs) to the mission was held in Kampala. In a communiqué, the TCCs urged the Security Council to reconsider the draw-down of AMISOM, restore the mission to previous levels, and stop any further reduction of troops, asserting the timeframes and troop levels outlined in resolution 2372 were not realistic and would lead to a reversal of the gains made by AMISOM. (When the Council renewed AMISOM’s authorisation last August, it decided to reduce the authorised troop level by 500 uniformed personnel by the end of 2017 to a maximum level of 21,626 and to withdraw a further 1,000 personnel by 30 October 2018.)
On 19 April, the Secretary-General transmitted to the Council a report on the future funding of AMISOM, which was prepared by the AU and UN Special Envoys on AMISOM Funding, Ramtane Lamamra and Jean-Marie Guéhenno. As Special Envoys, they had been appointed to lead a consultative process and to make recommendations on the best options for predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM and the Somali security forces. The report, which has not been published, recommended that discussion on AMISOM and its funding be placed in the context of a broader international strategy for Somalia. It reiterated that assessed contributions remains the best long-term option for sustainable and predictable funding of the mission but in the meantime, given realities, voluntary contributions should be pursued.
The armed group Al-Shabaab continues to be a potent threat, highlighted by Special Representative and head of UNSOM Michael Keating in his last Council briefing on 24 January, when he drew attention to its 14 October terrorist attack in Mogadishu that killed over 500 people, the group’s deadliest attack. On 4 April, Council members issued a press statement that condemned in the strongest terms Al-Shabaab’s attack of 1 April on the Ugandan contingent of AMISOM in Lower Shabelle, in which a number of soldiers were killed and injured.
Key Issues and Options
Regarding AMISOM’s re-authorisation, a key issue is ensuring that the mission is equipped to adequately strengthen the Somali forces so they can progressively take the lead in providing security, as a premature handover of security responsibilities would risk undermining Somalia’s security and political gains. An operational readiness report on Somali security forces conducted in December 2017 concluded that Somali forces were very limited in their capacity to take over such responsibilities. Closely related is the need to secure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM and Somali security institutions.
In addition to the funding report, the Somali government is developing an AMISOM transition plan; at press time, it was anticipated the plan would be presented at an EU security summit on Somalia on 2 May in Brussels. The AU and UN are also expected to complete a review of the AMISOM concept of operations soon. These reports and reviews should feed into the Council’s consideration of the AMISOM re-authorisation in May. However, the comprehensive assessment report of AMISOM, requested by 15 April in resolution 2372, has been postponed until June.
One option is to extend AMISOM’s authorisation for a shortened period so as to consider any substantive changes to the mission following the completion of the comprehensive assessment expected in June.
On UNSOM, the Secretary-General’s first report since the Council renewed the mission’s mandate is due by 1 May. An issue for the Council is how UNSOM has been able to support the Somali government. The report will likely cover issues around political and security developments, peacebuilding and state-building processes, including financial and technical capacity challenges facing the government, relations between the federal member states and federal government, and the government’s AMISOM transition plan. It may cover the humanitarian situation, where famine remains a risk.
On Somalia generally, Council members are united in supporting state-building processes and in their support for AMISOM, as demonstrated by unified messages and the uncontentious adoption of several recent Council outcomes on Somalia. Concerning AMISOM, however, some Council members have expressed more caution about the drawdown of troops than others.
The AU continues to press the Council to do more to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM. It appears that most Council members are in favour of providing some funding to AMISOM through UN assessed contributions. The US, however, is opposed to the idea—a reality acknowledged by the Secretary-General when he discussed the funding report at his monthly luncheon with the Council—which makes using assessed contributions very unlikely.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia. Kazakhstan chairs the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 March 2018 S/RES/2408||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNSOM for an additional year.|
|30 August 2017 S/RES/2372||This resolution reauthorised AMISOM until 31 May 2018.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|27 March 2018 S/PV.8215||The Council adopted resolution 2408, renewing UNSOM’s mandate for an additional year.|
|24 January 2018 S/PV.8165||This was a briefing by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Keating and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission Francisco Madeira on the situation in Somalia and the latest Secretary-General’s report.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|4 April 2018 SC/13277||This was a statement condemning in the strongest terms the 1 April attack perpetrated by Al-Shabaab in Lower Shabelle, in which a number of AMISOM soldiers were killed and injured.|