Senior officials from the African Union (AU), Somalia, and the United Nations (UN) have commenced consultative meetings to address the upcoming second phase of troop drawdown scheduled for September, as announced by the AU mission.
The AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) plans to reduce its troop numbers by an additional 3,000 personnel next month, following the successful withdrawal of 2,000 troops and the transfer of six military bases in June.
Mohammed El-Amine Souef, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of the ATMIS, stated that a joint technical committee, composed of members from the ATMIS, the Somali government, and the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), has been meeting to determine the military bases from which the 3,000 troops will be drawn.
Souef emphasized the importance of synchronized and seamless planning and execution of the drawdown to safeguard the progress achieved thus far, especially considering the ongoing active combat operations.
During the meeting in Mogadishu, Souef praised the UN and the government for their unwavering support and collaboration, which contributed to the success of the first phase. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the Head of UNSOS, urged the technical committee to incorporate the lessons learned from the initial phase to ensure the success of the second phase.
Kacyira also assured that the UN would ensure the equipment and facilities handed over to the Somali security forces by departing ATMIS troops are in good condition and that the Somali forces receive the necessary training to utilize them effectively. UNSOS plays a crucial role in providing logistical support to the ATMIS and Somali security forces during joint operations.
According to UN Security Council Resolution 2687 (2023), Somalia and the AU are mandated to conduct a technical assessment by the end of August to evaluate the achievements of Phase One of the drawdown and provide an update by September 15 regarding their preparations for the second phase.
The drawdowns are guided by UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670, which require the ATMIS to gradually transfer security responsibilities to the Somali security forces in anticipation of the complete exit from Somalia by December 31, 2024.
Hussein Sheikh Ali, Somalia’s National Security Adviser, expressed appreciation for the continued support from the AU and UNSOS and reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring a successful handover of full security responsibilities to the Somali security forces upon the ATMIS’s departure in December 2024.
The collaborative efforts of all parties involved aim to strengthen Somalia’s security apparatus and pave the way for a stable and self-sustaining future.