UN maintains arms embargo on Somalia despite government objections – KLBK | KAMC

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations Security Council on Thursday voted to maintain an arms embargo on Somalia despite strong objections from its government, saying the “terrorist group” al-Shabab still poses a serious threat to the peace and stability in the region and that sanctions are necessary to degrade its activities.

The resolution, which also expresses concern over the continued presence of affiliates of the Islamic State extremist group in the Horn of Africa, was approved by a vote of 11 to 0, Russia, China, the Gabon and Ghana abstained in support of the Somali government’s call, backed by the African Union, to lift the arms embargo.

The British-drafted resolution amends the arms embargo to reflect the government’s progress in improving its arms and ammunition management.

This includes allowing Somalia to import man-portable surface-to-air missiles, larger caliber mortars, anti-tank guided weapons, combat drones, certain aircraft and ships designed or modified for military purposes, and drones combat weapons for use by its security forces and police. — unless the Security Council committee responsible for monitoring the sanctions objects within five working days of receiving the notification from the government.

Britain’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, James Kariuki, said the benchmarks identified following a recent technical assessment highlighting Somalia’s progress provide “a clear roadmap…which will help this council to make further changes to arms and ammunition measures in the future”.

“The steps taken today will simplify processes for Somalia and its partners, and help expedite travel,” he said.

The resolution maintains in place the codified arms embargo, the ban on the sale or transfer of key components of the improvised explosive devices that al-Shabab has used, the ban on the import and export of charcoal that was a key source of income, and travel bans and asset freezes against peace-threatening individuals associated with al-Shabab, including funding or facilitating its activities.

The Security Council imposed the arms embargo on Somalia in 1992 to cut off the flow of arms to the feuding clan warlords who toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre the year before, plunging the country into war civil. Somalia established a functioning transitional government in 2012 and has struggled to restore stability in the face of extremist attacks and one of the country’s worst droughts, which brought thousands of people to the brink of starvation.

The Somali government under recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has embarked on a new offensive against al-Shabab, including efforts to shut down its financial network.

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood expressed hope that the government will continue to make progress on the criteria, allowing for further easing of the arms embargo.

He said the sanctions regime adopted on Thursday is designed to support and enable “vigorous action” by the government to combat al-Shabab, including depriving the extremist group of its financial resources. And he urged all countries to apply sanctions and deprive al-Shabab of the possibility of accessing funds and weapons.

Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, Abukar Osman, expressed his “deep dissatisfaction” with the extension of the arms embargo and praised the four countries that refrained from supporting it.

He warned that the arms embargo, which is the longest UN sanctions regime, is hampering efforts to rebuild the country’s security forces to counter al-Shabab.

The army has used “a large part” of its weaponry in engagements with al-Shabab over the past four months, Osman said, and following the renewal of the arms embargo, “our hands are linked in the fight against the ruthless enemy at this time”. most critical moment.

Osman said victims of Somali “terror groups” are asking why lifting the arms embargo is a threat to international peace and security when other countries are armed to defend their territory and people.

“This unfair and unjust double standard prevents the Somali government from legally obtaining lethal military equipment to rebuild its national army,” he told the council.

Ambassador Martin Kimani of Kenya, whose neighboring country has also been targeted by al-Shabab, backed the resolution, saying the Security Council had taken “a firm stance against terrorism”.

But he also called for an end to the arms embargo.

“There is no doubt that the conduct on the battlefield and the determination of the Somali forces and government will lead to the lifting of the embargo in the short term,” Kimani said. “The partial arms embargo in Somalia cannot exist in perpetuity, as it is counterproductive and negatively affects the federal government’s ability to eradicate the existential threat posed by al-Shabab.”

Martin E. Berry