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National Security Advisor: Somalia is Adequately Preparing to Take Over Security from African Union Troops

Storyline:National News, Security

GOOBJOOG NEWS|MOGADISHU: The Somali government is widely preparing to ensure a smooth transition from African Union security support and set the groundwork for a post-AU force framework, National Security Advisor Hussein Sheikh Ali has said.

Speaking during an exclusive session hosted by Goobjoog News on the X Spaces platform Friday night, Ali said the Federal Government was deploying a multi-pronged approach to build sufficient capacity ahead of the take-over of security responsibilities from ATMIS.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is set to end its mandate in Somalia by December this year in line with the UN Security Council’s dictates. The December deadline will mark 17 years since the African Union deployed its forces in Somalia with the approval of the UN Security Council.

The interview which was followed by over 10,000 active listeners covered five areas namely, strategies to combat Al-Shabaab, Political Security and Capacity Building, ATMIS Drawdown and Post-ATMIS Forces, Civilian Armed Forces and Military Campaigns, Foreign Troop Reliance, Security Assessments and Border Security and Ethiopian Troop Withdrawal and Post-ATMIS Focus.

Strategies to combat Al-Shabaab

On the war on Al-Shabaab, Ali said the government had developed a comprehensive strategy based on six pillars: military, finance, ideology, propaganda, urban security, and stabilisation. This multifaceted approach has resulted in the liberation of large swathes of territories in HirShabelle and Galmudug, without foreign support Ali said noting this has severely impacted their financial resources.

“The position of the FGS, is to limit the reliance on foreign soldiers and increase our capacity. Such dependency leaves us exposed politically and in terms of security, the funds for the foreign soldiers could be used to finance Somali soldiers,” Ali said.

“On the economic war front, the Government has succeeded in shutting down various methods through which Al-Shabaab used to extort money from the citizens. This has significantly weakened the group’s ability to wage their distractive campaign against the people.”

Enhanced security in urban areas has also cut of Al-Shabaab’s influence as stabilisation efforts with the support of international partners are ongoing in newly re-liberated areas. The NSA added that the successful completion of the Somali Conference and the Tubsan initiative continue to address the ideological front.

The Tubsan National Center for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (TNC-PCVE) was established in 2023.

Political Security and Capacity Building

On the political front, Ali said the government is robustly engaging to ensure political stability which is critical to building the capacity of the security forces. He noted the FGS had initiated the training and equipping of 18,000 soldiers, the first-ever implementation of the National Security Architecture (NSA). Additionally, parliament has passed crucial security bills which have now been assented to by the President. This included the National Intelligence and Security Act, Counter-Terrorism Act, Targeted Sanctions Act Firearms Act, Cybersecurity Bill, and Immigration Act. The UN Security Council also lifted the three-decades-long arms embargo enabling Somali Security Forces to procure high-calibre weapons.

ATMIS Drawdown and Post-ATMIS Forces

The National Security Advisor said the planned withdrawal of ATMIS was on course with 9,000 troops set to leave in three phases by the end of the year. Over 10,000 African Union soldiers have since left Somalia as part of the Somalia Transition Plan which envisages the hand-over of security responsibilities to Somali Security Forces.

“The phased drawdown of ATMIS is continuing according to plan. A total of 9,000 troops will leave in three phases before the end of this year,” said Ali but noted a smaller unit will be deployed in the country to shepherd the remaining components of the transition. “There are ongoing discussions about the post-ATMIS deployment of new troops into the country. What I can say now is that the new troops will be significantly fewer than those we have now, and their mandate will be limited to protecting key installations, including the airport and main seaport.”

He noted that the post-ATMIS deployment will primarily be focused on building the capacity of the Somali Security Forces. “Each deployment of the post-ATMIS forces will be strategically accompanied by their Somali counterparts, fostering a strong partnership aimed at providing comprehensive training and invaluable mentorship,” the NSA said, adding, “This collaborative approach is designed to significantly bolster the proficiency and effectiveness of the Somali forces, enabling them to assume greater responsibility for maintaining peace and stability throughout the nation.”

According to Ali, the post-ATMIS forces will be tasked with securing 23 key installations across the country and will comprise approximately 12,000 personnel. “The ultimate goal is to ensure a smooth transition of security responsibilities, with the Somali forces gradually taking over from the post-ATMIS forces as they become increasingly capable and self-sufficient in their roles as guardians of national security.”

Security Assessments and Border Security

In tandem with the transition plan, the Office of the National Security conducts a National Threat Assessment every three months and the last one was submitted it to the President on May 16. Ali said the assessment is key in ensuring constant monitoring and implementing security measures to address upcoming changes.

“Regarding Somalia’s border security, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has been diligently working on the National Threat Assessment (NTA). In an unprecedented move, the findings of this comprehensive review were presented to the National Consultative Council (NCC) and will be formally tabled before the Council of Ministers in the near future.,” Ali said. He added, “Upon the Council’s approval, the government will promptly commence the implementation of the agreed-upon measures, ensuring full compliance with the established agreements.”

On the military operations, Ali said the Somali National Army was still focused on fighting Al-Shabaab. He noted the ongoing el-nino rains had slowed down the operations but the mission is still on course. He also allayed fears that Somalia would fall into the hands of Al-Shabaab once all the African Union left as it happened in Afghanistan.

“The comparison between Somalia and Afghanistan is an incomparable argument, AS has never controlled the whole country, and unlike Taliban, which had grassroots support, AS is a nuisance that is rejected by the Somali public and are actively fighting against.”