The UN Security Council in a surprisingly unanimous vote
opted for a partial lift of the 21 year old –virtually non-existent – arms
embargo that dawned on Somalia after the breakout of civil war. Since then, a
steady of flow of small arms has been funnelled into the conflict prone country
despite the Security Council having knowledge of the proliferation of small
Knowing that, will that stop the conflict in the war torn
country – who was able to shrewdly import small arms during the embargo – which
now has been given the green-light to freely import?
I believe at this current juncture during the problematic
early stages of the Somali Federal Government (SFG), the initial issue before
armament should be country wide disarmament. Firstly and foremost in the
capital, where guns are found as easily as any other product such as soap and
The Security Council reasoned that the lift of the arms
embargo is so that the SFG can build their national forces to diminish Al Shabaab’s
waning control in southern Somalia. However the current array of militia forces
– who have not all been integrated into the Somali forces – battling Al
Shabaab, alongside African Union forces have made serious headway.
Do they need to be supported? Of course; however there are
ways to support forces without supplying the scandal prone Somali National
Forces with small arms.
The Somali National forces are actually far from what the
moniker states; the forces are not representative of the various regions and
states in Somalia. Regions bordering Mogadishu, was and in some parts are still
controlled by militias. Other areas have adopted the federal government’s name;
however there has been no serious integration between the two. The ex-militias
have dropped the name but still remain loyal to clan and militia ties as was
the case in Bay region recently. After an administration change by the SFG,
‘government’ forces loyal to ousted Governor Abdifatah Mohamed Geeseey
boycotted the new administrations’ offices even refusing employees access.
However that debacle did not stop the government from
standing with the admin change in the region and pushing for more regional and
local admin selection from Mogadishu, across Somalia.
A recent agreement by Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama and the SFG,
calls to incorporate ASWJ forces and military equipment into the federal
government forces. The agreement is a bid by the SFG to convalesce the Federal
Government’s control in governing the country. However, insisting on regional
and local admins across the country and the incorporation of all militia forces,
in a bid to spread its authority across Somalia is a momentous task. If the SFG
is honest about reform, they have failed to improve the current ragtag Somali
Despite the Somali Federal Government’s efforts to mend ties
between civilians and security forces and threats of harsh punishments to
delinquent troops, there is prevalent distrust by civilians of security
authorities. Especially Somali National Forces from Mogadishu, which is
dominated by a sub-clan.
Many of the top military commanders from the previous admin
have not been replaced despite the 2012 Somali Eritrea Monitoring Group’s
(SEMG) report of government forces’ blocking access to divert aid. It was
reported that former Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sharif
Sheikh Ahmed scolded many top military officials and threatened to sack them
after numerous reports of rape and muggings by military forces.
Although the judiciary has sentenced many low level military
troops to different crimes against civilians, its semi-clean record was
blemished by a recent ruling.
judiciary came under fire internationally for its conviction of journalist
Abdiaziz Abdinur Koronto, who was initially, sentenced to 1 year however his
sentence was lowered to 6 months following an appeal. He was found convicted of
defaming the government among other charges, after he interviewed a woman who
said she was raped by military forces. Oddly enough the woman – who was
Koronto’s co-defendant – was granted her freedom after the appeal. Some
journalists told me it’s a clear message to other journalists to lay off bad
reporting of the Somali National Forces.
The lack of military reform despite persistent controversy, the
contentious issue by the SFG – who oppose state formation processes – to build
regional and local admins, compounded with the fact that the independent
judiciary has been marred by controversy proves that political reform should be
the SFG’s theme during its first year in office.
With a country divided by conflict and a pervasiveness of
clan mistrust there needs to be more trust building and confidence in the
government’s role to ensure peace and tranquillity in Somalia.
As I said earlier, one way of building that trust would be
to begin a disarmament project starting in the capital and moving gradually across
Knowing that the SFG still hasn’t gripped its full authority
on Somalia politically or militarily; why has the US has backed Somali
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s request for an arms embargo lift?
I believe that it’s an ill-advised expression of solidarity
and a quick way to distribute small arms in a country torn by conflict. That
being said, whatever the reason for lifting the ban, at this critical stage
without collective tedious independent monitoring mechanisms, it could have
serious implications on the federal government’s aspirations to lift Somalia
out of 20 plus years of conflict and political infighting.
By Kainan Abdullahi Mohamed
The opinion above is solely the author's and does not necessarily reflect the views of Garowe Online and its affiliates.