GOOBJOOG NEWS|MOGADISHU: The African Union force in Somalia ATMIS has concluded the handover of Forward Operating Bases (FOB) to Somali National Army ahead of today’s withdrawal of 2,000 forces.
The latest was the Jazeera base in the outskirts of Mogadishu and Gerilley FOB in Gedo region. The Ugandan People’s Forces (UPDF) handed over the Jazeera base to SNA while that in Geriley was handed over by Kenya Defence Forces.
The handover yesterday bring to six the number of FOBs which have now changed hands from ATMIS to SNA. Others are Haji Ali, Miirtaqwo, Arbacow, and Adale.
The withdrawal of 2,000 AtMIS forces today is in line with resolutions 2628 (2022) and 2670 (2022) set out by the UN Security Council last year. This comes ahead of the anticipated full withdrawal of AU forces from Somalia by December 2024. Analysts have however indicated that the timeline could be far more ambitious given the level of preparedness and increasing Al-Shabaab insurgency.
The exit of 2,000 forces today leaves about 17,000 African Union troops. Prime Minister Hamze Barre said mid-this month that the government had generated additional 20,000 security personnel in the last year who will be integrated into the security architecture by the end of 2024.
National Security Advisor Advisor Hussein Maalin has also indicated that Somalia has generated sufficient forces to take over security responsibilities from ATMIS.
But amid this build-up, al-Shabaab is also in a militia generation mode to counter the expected offensive in the second phase two of the operation against the group. Videos published by pro—Al-Shabaab media this past week showed parades of al-Shabaab militants matching in an undisclosed location.
Sources said the group has been actively recruiting fighters amid heavy pressure from Somali National Army, clan militia and state forces in the last eight months.
Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia are expected to send in about 20,000 troops for the second phase of the operation codenamed Operation Black Lion. The Operation will focus on South West and Jubaland states.