Jubaland Voices Concern Over Premature Withdrawal of Ethiopian Forces

Jubaland and Ethiopian Troops: A Complex Dilemma

KISMAYO, Somalia – The folks in Jubaland have echoed the sentiments of their southwestern allies, backing the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) bolstering the country’s security amid escalating threats from Al-Shabaab.

Operating under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Ethiopian troops have played a pivotal role in reclaiming key areas from Al-Shabaab across the land, particularly patrolling parts of Southwest and Jubaland.

In the wake of recent disclosures by the National Security Advisor, Hussein Sheikh Ali, apprehensions have sprung up among the Ethiopian units engaged in Somalia, leaving them uneasy about what lies ahead.

“Only the Kharwarij, or al-Shabab militants in Mogadishu’s terms, gain from this chaos,” Jubaland’s Deputy President Mohamud Sayid Aden warned VOA’s Somali Service, labeling the situation complicated and unresolvable for all parties involved.

Previously, Hassan Abdulkadir Mohamed, Southwest’s security head honcho, mentioned on VOA that their officials appreciate having Ethiopian forces on board. The scope of these worries extends beyond Jubaland.

“ATMIS’s withdrawal requires a collective decision, not a single-handed call,” Mohamed emphasized. “We in the Southwest find the Ethiopian troops’ presence beneficial.”

So far, Ethiopia remains mum on these recent events. Observers speculate Somalia’s stance might stir contention with the African Union, the entity steering the stabilization efforts.

Celebrated Horn of Africa security expert Samira Gaid expressed uncertainty over whether this decision was formally conveyed to the AU, hinting at added complexities for the Union in brokering understanding among its member states.

“Given the AU’s prior struggles with the MOU, navigating the post-ATMIS terrain adds another layer of challenge,” Gaid remarked to VOA’s Somali Service, suggesting the declared departure marks an escalation following six months since the MOU’s exposure.

Gaid also cast doubt on the prospects of swift strategizing by Mogadishu and AU officials to marshal substitute forces. ATMIS commenced its phased exit last year, slated for completion by December 2024.

“The government hinted at relying on current Troop Contributing Countries [TCCs] to bridge the gap,” Gaid noted.

“However, whether existing TCCs can mobilize, adapt to Bay and Bakool’s political intricacies, and clarify post-ATMIS strategies involving resources, mandate, and troop numbers remains a question mark.”

Notably, ATMIS plans to withdraw 5,000 troops this month amidst the Somali Transition Plan (STP). Somalia’s initial assertion was a homegrown approach to address the resulting security void post-withdrawal.


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