May 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2019
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Expected Council Action

The Council is expected to renew its authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), due to expire on 31 May.

The Council will also be briefed on the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), due by 15 May.

Key Recent Developments

The armed group Al-Shabaab remains highly active. On 23 March, Al-Shabaab fighters detonated a suicide car bomb and then stormed a government building, killing 15 people including the country’s deputy labour minister, according to the police. On 18 April, a car bomb exploded in Mogadishu, killing five people. The following day, five family members of the deputy minister for fisheries were fatally shot.

On 14 April, a US airstrike in Puntland reportedly killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s deputy leader in Somalia. The US has increased its Somalia operations, reporting 28 airstrikes in 2019 thus far, compared with 47 for the whole of 2018 and 35 in 2017. A 20 March report by Amnesty International claimed that 14 civilians had been killed and eight wounded in five US airstrikes investigated between April 2017 and December 2018. The US denied the allegations but later acknowledged that a woman and child were killed in an airstrike in April 2018.

On 27 March, the Council unanimously renewed the mandate of UNSOM. The mission will continue to provide strategic support and advice to Somalia and AMISOM on peacebuilding and state-building in the areas of governance, security sector reform, and constitutional review, and it will assist the federal government in building its capacity to promote respect for human rights. The resolution further reiterates the Council’s regret at Somalia’s decision to expel the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, and its expectation of full cooperation between Somalia and the UN, including the new Special Representative when appointed. (Haysom was declared persona non grata by Somalia at the end of 2018 after criticising Somalia for violence against demonstrators in an election-related incident in South West State.) The resolution also calls on Somalia and South West State to address allegations of human rights violations and abuses prior to the South West State elections.

On 13 February, the AU Peace and Security Council adopted a new Concept of Operations (CoP) for AMISOM for 2018-2021, in accordance with resolution 2431, to provide clear target dates for the progressive transfer of security responsibility from AMISOM to Somali security institutions and forces. The AU Peace and Security Council said in a communiqué that the successful implementation of the CoP depends on the effective generation of the Somali Security Forces necessary for the gradual and progressive takeover of security responsibilities from AMISOM, the presence of the required number of well-trained and equipped AMISOM personnel, and predictable resources for AMISOM to support the Somali transition. AMISOM’s leadership met in Nairobi on 2 April to discuss the budget for programmes under the CoP.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 18 April, the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee met with National Security Advisor to the President of Somalia Abdi Said M Ali. Ali discussed progress on Somali security and political reforms.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue is ensuring that AMISOM retains the capability and means to strengthen and assist the Somali forces so that these forces can progressively take the lead in providing security while avoiding a premature handover of security responsibilities.

Closely related is the need to secure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM and Somali security institutions throughout this process. One option in this regard, although unlikely given current Council dynamics, would be for the Council to adopt language in support of direct UN funding for AMISOM during this transition period or express the willingness to consider this possibility in the future.

The Council may further consider the issue of troop strength.

Council Dynamics

In the past, including during last year’s negotiations on resolution 2431, positions taken on the pace of troop reductions reflected the underlying divisions among Council members. While then-Council member Ethiopia and others cautioned against downsizing AMISOM prematurely, France and the US pressed for strict timelines for further reductions. UNSOM’s assessment of the security situation and progress in the Somali transition may prove influential ahead of negotiations over AMISOM’s new mandate in this regard.

The AU continues to press the Council to do more to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM. In addition to the logistical support given through the UN Support Office in Somalia and the voluntary contributions provided through the UN trust fund for AMISOM, several Council members have been willing to consider providing direct funding to AMISOM through UN assessed contributions. The US remains opposed to the idea, however. In the past, Council members have been unable to agree on specific language on this issue beyond general support for sustainable funding without committing the Council to any position.

The UK is the penholder on Somalia.

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Security Council Resolutions
27 March 2019S/RES/2461 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNSOM until 31 March 2020.
30 July 2018S/RES/2431 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of AMISOM until 31 May 2019.
Secretary-General’s Reports
21 December 2018S/2018/1149   This was the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia.

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