Somalia soldiers need modern weapons and funds as ATMIS exits - ex-spy chief
MOGADISHU, Somalia - There is a need for the international community to focus on equipping Somalia soldiers besides adequately funding them as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] starts mass withdrawal after over a decade of service in the country, a former senior intelligence officer says.
Abdirahman Mohamed Turyare, the former National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] Director believes without equipping the soldiers, ATMIS exit will leave a huge gap that can badly expose civilians in the country after years of relative stability made possible by the mission troops.
Already, over 2000 soldiers have withdrawn from the country with an additional 3,000 expected to leave this month. This week, Burundian troops handed over their base in the town of Biyo Adde in the Middle Shabelle region to government forces, the first of 10 forward operating bases to be transferred.
It is anticipated that by the end of December 2023, the ATMIS contingent will have been reduced to 12,000 from 20,000, and the rest are expected to leave some time in 2024. However, some government operatives believe that the withdrawal would have been put on hold.
But General Turyare says resources such as the military equipment and funds allocated for the AU troops should be made available to the Somali army to strengthen military operations against al-Shabab.
"If they cannot transfer all, at least some of it," Turyare told VOA.
Turyare said the impact of the drawdown on Somalia's security will depend on the success of the ongoing military operations. "If the government makes good progress [on] the liberation campaign in the next months it can cope with the reduction of AU troops," he said.
"If it doesn't succeed, it will impact because the [AU] troops are holding areas; people living in those areas and [Somali] troops have them as a company. It will impact if the operation prolongs."
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud recently asked Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti to dispatch non-ATMIS troops to help in the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab. However, the three countries are yet to confirm if they are obliged to the request since no soldier has been sent there.