Somali Security Forces Ready for Transition as ATMIS Withdraws, Affirms Security Minister

Minister Fartaag reassured the public about the readiness of national forces, saying, “Our replacement forces are ready when ATMIS leaves. Our security forces are capable of taking over without a doubt. We are prepared for this transition. Our national forces are prepared to work together with heroes to uphold the country’s security once ATMIS exits.”

ATMIS is set to withdraw 4,000 troops in the next month after previous withdrawals from key regions like Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle, Bay, Bakool, and Jubbaland. Somali forces have already assumed presidential security responsibilities. ATMIS has promised to facilitate a smooth shift of security duties to the Somali Security Forces by December 2024.

Despite the positive outlook, concerns linger about a potential security gap that might be exploited by al-Shabaab, a militant group looking to topple the Somali government. With an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 fighters, al-Shabaab remains resilient, recruiting new members, even children.

In recent times, al-Shabaab has ramped up attacks on security forces and civilians. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) registered an uptick in violence, notably in regions like Lower Shabelle and Mudug, underscoring the persistent threat posed by the group.

International and regional stakeholders are apprehensive about the ATMIS pullout. Leaders from troop-contributing nations such as Uganda and Kenya have urged a review of the withdrawal timeline, stressing the need to sync the drawdown with on-the-ground security conditions to avert a militant resurgence.

UN human rights expert Isha Dyfan called on Somali authorities to step up efforts to safeguard civilians and tackle human rights abuses. Dyfan urged concrete measures against officials violating citizens’ rights and emphasized enhancing the capacity to probe and prosecute cases of sexual and gender-based violence.

The federal government, bolstered by global partners, continues to bolster its security forces to tackle the nation’s intricate security dilemmas. The African Union, in partnership with the United Nations and other stakeholders, is crafting a comprehensive post-ATMIS strategy to uphold Somalia’s security gains and stave off a security void, with the goal of aiding Somalia in attaining lasting stability and peace.

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