March 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2022
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In March, the Council is expected to consider a resolution reauthorising the AU mission in Somalia. At the time of writing, the Council was considering how to proceed regarding the Somali anti-piracy measures set to expire on 31 March.

Key Recent Developments

On 21 December 2021, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2614, a three-month technical rollover authorising the current AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). This timeframe was intended to allow for further discussions between the AU and the Somali federal government to resolve disagreements concerning the future of the AU mission. The dispute between Somalia and the AU delayed the finalisation of three key documents on future security arrangements in Somalia requested by resolution 2568 of 12 March 2021. Somalia envisaged a reconfigured version of AMISOM as the best option to promote the efficient and gradual transition of security responsibilities to its security forces, while the AU preferred an AU-UN multidimensional mission financed by UN assessed contributions.

Through this resolution, the Council reauthorised AMISOM’s presence until 31 December 2021 and requested an update of the mission’s concept of operations (CONOPS), to be developed jointly by Somalia and the AU by August 2021. It further requested from the Secretary-General proposals for the strategic objectives, size and composition of a reconfigured AU mission, which was due by September 2021, and for continued UN logistical support for the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia and the Somali security forces alongside a reconfigured AU mission, which was due by the end of October 2021. All of these requests were delayed because of the different perspectives of the UN and the AU on the future of the AU peace operation in Somalia.

As the 31 December 2021 expiration of resolution 2568 approached, talks between the Somali government and the AU were still ongoing. That led the UK, the penholder on Somalia, to propose the three-month technical rollover until 31 March. In their explanations of vote following the adoption, France called for a swift conclusion to the talks, the UK requested all stakeholders to engage in good-faith discussions and the US urged the parties to reach an agreement before February.

Since then, significant progress has been made in shaping a new security set-up for Somalia. Following a preliminary agreement in December 2021 between Somalia and the AU on a reconfigured AMISOM, representatives of Somalia, the AU Commission, and AMISOM held technical-level meetings between 17 and 21 January in Addis Ababa, which resulted in an outcome document outlining the parameters and strategic objectives for a new AU mission in Somalia.

The new mission is referenced in the document as “the AU Transitional Mission to Somalia (ATMIS)”, and the document foresees the gradual handover of security responsibilities to Somali security forces by the end of 2023 in accordance with the Somali Transition Plan. The document also includes the option of increasing the number of troop-contributing countries. Subsequent consultations between 28 January and 9 February in the “Quartet” format (Somalia, the AU, the EU, and the UN) led to the drafts of the requested updated CONOPS; the proposal for the strategic objectives, size and composition of a reconfigured AU mission; and the associated logistical support package. Once finalised, these drafts are expected to be submitted to both the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council for their approval.

Since the adoption of resolution 2608 on 3 December 2021, which renewed the anti-piracy measures for three months instead of the usual one year, the US, the penholder on the Somalia anti-piracy measures, and the EU Council members reportedly engaged with Somalia to avert discontinuation of the measures. In December 2021, Somalia, which must consent to the measures for the resolution to be adopted, advocated their discontinuation, citing an improvement in the security situation within its maritime borders. Somalia reiterated its position during the 15 February Council meeting on the situation in the country, noting that the measures had effectively curbed piracy and armed robbery at sea since their inception some 15 years ago. During the same meeting, the head of the EU Delegation to the UN, Olof Skoog, who briefed Council members, expressed hope that Somalia would agree to an extension of the measures for at least another nine months to allow for the EU naval mission EUNAVFOR Med Atalanta to continue operating off the coast of Somalia. Acting under the authorisations granted by the anti-piracy measures, the mission is authorised to protect vessels delivering aid for the World Food Programme; deters and suppresses piracy and armed robbery at sea; and monitors illicit fishing activities, weapons and drugs trafficking, and the illicit charcoal trade.

Sanctions-related developments

On 24 February, Ambassador Jim Kelly (Ireland) delivered the periodic briefing by the Chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee, covering the committee’s activities during the last 120 days. These included a meeting with the panel of experts on Somalia, which presented its programme of work to the committee, following the panel’s appointment on 16 December 2021. During its mandate, the panel intends to focus its work on Al-Shabaab finances; on the group’s structure; its activities regarding child recruitment and gender-based violence; on smuggling and trafficking of weapons; Somalia’s weapons and ammunitions management; and the implementation of the ban on charcoal trade. During that meeting, the committee reportedly welcomed the continued improvement of the panel’s relationship with the Government of Somalia. Kelly also referenced the 18 February listing by the committee of Ali Mohamed Rage, the spokesperson of Al-Shabaab, for “engaging in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Somalia, including acts that threaten the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia, or threaten the Federal Government of Somalia or AMISOM by force.”

Key Issues and Options 

Despite the agreements reached thus far among the Quartet regarding the future of an AU presence in Somalia, several key issues appear to require continued attention. Predictable and sustainable financing will continue to be a major issue. The EU, which has provided the bulk of funding for AMISOM over the years, has yet to make a determination on whether, and at what level, it would support a new AU mission in Somalia. It is unlikely that any such decision would be made before the new mission’s concept of operations, strategic objectives, and UN logistical support package are finalised.

Another important issue is the need to enhance the capacity of Somali security forces, as the new mission is expected to fully transfer security responsibilities to Somalia by 2023. The new successor mission hinges on the effective implementation of The Somali Transition Plan, the document outlining the gradual handover of security responsibilities from the AU to the Somali National Army.

Consultations on the planning documents for a new AU mission are expected to be finalised in March. Should the drafts not be finalised in time for negotiations to commence ahead of the 31 March deadline, however, the penholder may consider another short technical rollover of AMISOM’s authorisation to maintain pressure on all parties to reach a final agreement while allowing additional time for consultations to conclude.

The national elections in Somalia are another key issue for the Council. The polls for the ongoing lower house (House of the Peoples) elections were scheduled to be finalised by 25 February. On that day, some hundred seats remained unfilled. On 24 February, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble convened a national consultative meeting to discuss the delay. The forum decided to extend the deadline for completion until 15 May. The finalisation of lower house elections is expected to pave the way for the presidential election, now likely to take place in June.

Depending on the progress of the electoral process, a Council product may either urge (or welcome) the completion of Somalia’s long-delayed lower house elections. Such a product could also outline elections-related security requirements for a new AU mission.

Another issue is the future of anti-piracy operations, including whether to readjust or discontinue these measures. The Council may consider engaging Somalia and the EU in an informal interactive dialogue to discuss mutually acceptable options regarding the future of the measures.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members continue to express different views on the funding of the AU mission. During the 15 February Council meeting on Somalia, the A3 (Gabon, Ghana and Kenya) reiterated the AU’s position, which calls for the utilisation of UN assessed contributions to fund the mission. Representing the largest donor to AMISOM, Skoog noted the continued willingness of the EU to support a reconfigured AU mission in Somalia but added that “there is no support for more of the same” and that Somalia needed a “fresh, holistic approach” to address its security challenges.

The new mission structure, with the potentially larger number of troop contributors and the revised command arrangement envisaged for ATMIS, may also change the dynamics among troop-contributing countries. A national representing the largest contingent of ATMIS is expected to serve as the mission’s force commander. Additional countries that may contribute to ATMIS forces alongside the current member states represented in AMISOM (Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda) have yet to be confirmed at the time of writing.

Several Council members are likely to advocate, to various degrees, for the continuation of the anti-piracy measures. During the 15 February Council meeting, the US, which is the penholder on Somalia piracy, expressed its hope that the measures would be renewed unanimously. France, as an EU member with an interest in the EU’s anti-piracy operation “Atalanta”, said that it had worked very closely with Somalia to be able to produce a draft resolution that would be agreeable to Mogadishu. The UK acknowledged that Somalia prefers to replace the measures with a bilateral maritime cooperation framework but recommended a continuation of the measures until such a framework is in place.

UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA

Security Council Resolutions
21 December 2021S/RES/2614 This reauthorised AMISOM’s mandate without substantive changes until 31 March.
3 December 2021S/RES/2608 This renewed the anti-piracy measures off the coast of Somalia for three months.
Secretary-General’s Reports
7 February 2022S/2022/101 This report was on the situation in Somalia, covering developments from 6 November 2021 to 31 January 2022.
3 November 2021S/2021/920 This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on the situation regarding piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia.
Security Council Letters
4 October 2021S/2021/859 This was a letter from the Security Council in response to the Secretary-General’s request for an extension of the deadlines to submit a proposal on a reconfigured AMISOM and options for continued UN logistical support to the AU mission, UNSOM, and the Somali security forces.

 

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