AXADLETM EDITORIAL – The resurgence of terrorist attacks in Somalia and neighboring Kenya raises a new debate over whether The UN arms embargo on Somalia has worked in full.
An assessment by a Nairobi-based peace and justice lobby organization known as the International Policy Group says al-Shabaab has launched at least three attacks a week since January with deadly consequences.
Al-Qaeda-linked extremists have attacked Kenyan police stations, killed soldiers and arrested suspects, destroyed communications masts in both countries and targeted government officials in Somalia.
In a recent attack, they launched mortar on a compound housing the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom), targeting EU diplomats and attempting an attack on a U.S. training military base.
And for a group targeted by the African Union [AU] Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] Strengths and fingers globally under a category of sanctions, the apparent resuscitation has been confusing policy experts.
“Due to sanctions against Somalia, it is difficult to defeat al-Shabaab,” said Abdiwahab Abdisamad, a leading consultant at SouthLink Consultants, a Nairobi policy group researching the political scene in the Horn of Africa.
“It is forbidden to supply or finance the purchase of weapons to the Somali National Army. But who feeds al-Shabaab? They levy illegal taxes by force from telecommunications companies, local businesses, shepherds, wealthy individuals and even politicians. They thrive under sanctions. ”
Last week, the illegal monitoring funding watchdog The Sentry published a report suggesting that sanctions against various countries in Africa may or may not have worked properly, mostly because they were poorly implemented or targeted at the wrong groups.
As a tradition since the 1930s, the international community has used sanctions as a coercive tool to tackle security threats and force stray groups to tear down the line.
Axadlehas asked an expert, Dr. Mustapha Ali, President of the HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies, on the need for sanctions in the modern era, and whether sanctions are needed at all in current multipolar global policy.
MY VIEW: We are now living in the post-new world order world. This post-new world order is more fragmented; facing increasing atomization of the international community; power is more subtly dispersed; international organizations are increasingly marginalized; there is less compliance to international law and the global rule-based order is in decline.As such, countries like Russia and China are looking for new allies and partners.Such sanctions will increasingly fail if the various powers do not agree on the goals, how and further to impose the sanctions , ”Said Ali.
In Africa, the United Nations, the United States and the European Union have each imposed around two dozen sanctions on 11 different countries, including Somalia, Burundi, Sudan and South Sudan in eastern Africa. They are targeted at civil servants, warlords, corporations and other entities.
In January 1992, almost two years after the outbreak of the civil war, the UN Security Council imposed an open arms embargo on Somalia. In February 2007, the embargo was amended to allow arms supplies to Somali government forces.
The move was aimed at cutting off the flow of weapons to feuding clan warlords who a year earlier had ousted the military regime led by former President General Mohamed Siad Barre.
Under various UN resolutions and decrees of the US President; it is prohibited to fund activities in al-Shabaab, support their purchase or acquisition of military equipment, and allow them to travel through or own assets in UN member states.
In November 2018, the arms embargo was extended until 15 November 2019.
One of the strict conditions imposed includes preventing financial institutions from assisting transactions in support of terrorists. But the sentry said that Africa’s huge non-knock population makes it difficult to reach the target, instead it is the general population that suffers.
“In some African countries with strong informal economies, the majority of the population remains without a bank; in these situations, it is generally elites who have bank accounts, ”the report noted ‘Beyond Carrots, Better Sticks’.
Sentry did not analyze the specific situation in Somalia as it focused on Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Liberia, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Liberia and Central Africa. It noted, however, that sanctions against Somalia scared away financial investors who wanted to avoid being caught in the middle; a phenomenon known as de-risking.
“At the most extreme, risk aversion can cause humanitarian crises. Humanitarian organizations are dependent on the international financial system, and without access to this system at the local level, it can be very difficult to distribute aid.
“This happened in Somalia, a country that has been exposed to dramatic risk. Even money transfer companies struggle to send money there, causing many to take extraordinary risks and carry cash around the world to get money for the intended recipients. ”
Yet diplomats at the UN Security Council, who fisted the sanctions, have also scratched their heads. On 25 October, the current chairman of the Committee on Sanctions against Somalia agreed to a review.
Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, the Belgian Permanent Representative to the UN, argues that al-Shabaab has managed to adapt to the terms of the sanctions and is now raising revenue locally and manufacturing local weapons.
“There is now a confirmation that Al-Shabaab manufactures homemade explosives, expands its revenue base and was again responsible for the highest number of attacks on civilians in the region,” he told the council last week.
“The embargo – first introduced in 1992 – needs to be streamlined, simplified and updated to better reflect the current reality of the Somali counter-insurgency.”
The sanctions have traditionally included an arms embargo, funding barriers, asset freezes and a ban on trade in coal and a travel ban. However, it excludes humanitarian aid to areas controlled by Shabaabs and is not specific to imports of normally harmless material, but as e.g. Can be used to make explosives.
“It is clear that Al-Shabaab will no longer receive significant revenue from that trade (with coal.”
In a recent situation report, the UN Global Maritime Crime Program, part of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, porous borders between Kenya and Somalia admitted the difficulty of taming illegal coal trade.
However, some members of the UN Security Council believe that Somalia itself has stopped the use of sanctions. Jonathan Guy Allen, a representative of the United Kingdom in the Council, accused the federal government of refusing to cooperate with the Panel on Somalia to decide whether the government could drop the arms embargo.
It would be unacceptable, he argued, for Somalia to refuse to work with the panel while at the same time trying to be fired.
Germany, USA, France and Kuwait; all members of the Security Council said that Somalia should tame the infiltration of terrorist traffickers into government departments and should work with the panel to ensure that no weapons in the hands of Somali security forces are sneaked out to al-Shabaab.