Somalia’s Communication with the UN Regarding ATMIS Withdrawal Leaves AU “Unsatisfied”
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] may express disappointment with Somalia’s letter to the United Nations Security Council regarding the withdrawal of troops from the country. The lack of adherence to protocols mentioned in the letter could potentially harm the relationship between the two entities.
Last Friday, the Somali government requested a “technical pause” in the withdrawal of ATMIS soldiers from the country. This request was presented to the United Nations Security Council. Currently, ATMIS has approximately 17,000 troops in Somalia.
As part of the Somali Transition Plan [STP], 2,000 soldiers have already left Somalia, and another 3,000 are expected to depart by the end of this month. However, Mogadishu wants this process to be temporarily suspended to ensure effective coordination of security on the ground.
However, an undisclosed senior official from the African Union expressed dissatisfaction with this decision, citing a lack of proper procedures. This discrepancy could potentially cause tension in the near future.
According to the official, the letter should have been addressed to the AU Peace and Security Council, which is the mandated organ responsible for the deployment of ATMIS forces. Additionally, the request should have come from the Minister of Foreign Affairs or higher, and then transmitted through the Somali embassy in Addis Ababa. The official emphasized the importance of informing the Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) in advance, rather than abruptly announcing the decision weeks before the drawdown.
The official further noted that this confusion only benefits al-Shabaab and does not support the efforts of the brave Somalis who have been fighting against the extremist group. Both the government and ATMIS have been actively combatting al-Shabaab for the past 16 years, achieving some level of success.
The official added, “It is now time for the Somali government to adjust its approach and engage in an honest conversation with its international partners, starting with the African Union. This conversation should be based on the current security situation on the ground.”
By the end of December 2024, approximately 3,000 soldiers are expected to leave the country, and ATMIS will hand over security responsibilities to the Somali National Army. Although the country still faces security challenges, measures have been implemented to systematically eradicate al-Shabaab through organized operations.