In a surprising turn of events, the African Union (AU) has shown its support for Somalia’s request for a temporary halt in the withdrawal of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops. This request was made to the United Nations Security Council over two weeks ago.
Somalia has cited logistical challenges in implementing the second phase of troop withdrawal and has called for a three-month pause. The AU’s Peace and Security Council has endorsed this pause, acknowledging that it would allow Somalia to address certain issues before the troops depart.
Currently, Somalia is actively engaged in operations against militants in the central and southern regions. The AU’s statement expresses solidarity with the people and government of Somalia, emphasizing their desire for lasting peace, security, stability, and prosperity, which would benefit the entire Horn of Africa region.
Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Uganda are among the prominent contributors of troops in Somalia, with a combined force of over 20,000 soldiers. Although 2,000 soldiers have already left Somalia, the remaining 3,000 were scheduled for withdrawal by September of this year.
Some security analysts have expressed concerns about the potential risks of this decision, particularly in terms of leaving the young Somali army exposed. Abdirisak Aden, the executive director of Farsight Africa Research and Policy Studies center in Mogadishu, suggests that the African Union and other international community members will need to provide the necessary financial support to effectively combat the global terrorist organization Al-Shabaab in Somalia, emphasizing the need for funding similar to what Ukraine receives from the United States and the European Union.