Somali Prime Minister maintains hope for enhanced worldwide assistance against al-Shabab
Asha Ibrahim Aden
Mohamed Olad Hassan
Friday September 22, 2023
The Prime Minister of Somalia, Hamza Abdi Barre, expressed his government’s appeal for increased international assistance in the ongoing battle against al-Shabab militants. In an exclusive interview with VOA, Barre stated that he plans to address the U.N. General Assembly this weekend to request the removal of the international arms embargo on Somalia, which has hindered their ability to fully eliminate al-Shabab. Al-Shabab is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and the United States and has been in conflict with the Somali government for 16 years.
Barre emphasized that Somalia’s top priority is security, which cannot be achieved without a well-trained and well-equipped national army. He expressed the urgent need for a complete lifting of the arms embargo imposed on Somalia since 1992, as it would enable their security forces to take full control and responsibility for the country’s security.
The arms embargo was initially imposed during the civil war in the early 1990s.
Barre’s appeal coincides with the announcement of the second phase of troop withdrawal by the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). AU forces have been stationed in Somalia since 2007.
During his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Barre aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Somalia’s progress. He intends to highlight achievements in areas such as poverty reduction, healthcare, education, economic growth, human rights, peace, security, and climate change.
The Somali army is currently engaged in a military offensive against al-Shabab. Since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared a “total war” against the militants in August 2022, al-Shabab fighters have been forced to retreat from their strongholds in central Somalia due to pressure from the army and local militias.
Although international partners have supported Somalia in its fight against al-Shabab through airstrikes and other means, Barre believes that their support falls short of what is needed.
Barre expressed cautious optimism that the ongoing battle against al-Shabab will ultimately succeed in eradicating the terror organization. The fact that the fighting now takes place primarily in remote strongholds rather than threatening Mogadishu’s security is seen as a positive sign.
Barre stressed the importance of concerted international efforts to safeguard the progress made and maintain pressure against al-Shabab.