Taking a Stand Against the Escalating Weapons Competition in Somalia

The 2023 Global Organized Crime Index reveals that Somalia is a hub for arms trafficking in Africa, with an increase in illicit weapons circulation over the years. Various criminal groups, including local militias and extremist organizations, are heavily involved in this market, using weapons for violent attacks and other crimes.

Despite these challenges, the UN Security Council decided to end the arms embargo on the Somali government while extending sanctions on al-Shabaab militants. The lifting of the embargo aims to enhance Somalia’s security capabilities and defense, but concerns linger about the potential risks and difficulties of managing a surge in weapons influx.

Issues like insufficient ammunition storage facilities and porous borders raise worries about leakage of weapons to criminal syndicates and militant groups. The country’s internal dynamics, including clan militias and corruption, complicate the situation further. Proximity to unstable regions like the Middle East poses additional threats to Somalia’s security and stability.

With the expected withdrawal of African Union troops by the end of 2024, the burden falls on Somali security forces to safeguard their nation. Balancing the need for military equipment with the risks of increased arms trafficking demands effective border control and better arms management.

The international community believes it is time for Somalia to take charge of its defense, but the country must address various challenges to prevent a potential escalation of security risks in the region and beyond. The analysis is part of GI-TOC’s series on the Global Organized Crime Index, exploring its impact on policymaking and anti-crime measures.

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