Somalia’s Partners Pull Back Military Assistance for Black Lion
In a surprising turn of events, Somalia’s neighboring countries known as the Frontline States – Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya – have indefinitely suspended their initial commitment to provide non-ATMIS troop support for the second phase of the Somali Government’s anti-al-Shabab military operations, referred to as the ‘Black Lion’. This news has come as a shock to officials and raises concerns about the effectiveness of the planned operation.
The absence of Ethiopian troops, seen as a critical factor in the success of the operation, could have devastating consequences and potentially strengthen al-Shabab. The Somali Government had relied on the support of its neighbors in the fight against terrorism, so this withdrawal of support is a setback for their efforts.
The reasons behind the withdrawal remain unclear, leading to speculation about the implications for regional security. The preparation for the Black Lion Operation had been gaining momentum in recent months, creating hope for progress against al-Shabab’s insurgency.
The absence of troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti, who initially pledged to contribute 18,000 troops, poses challenges for Somalia’s execution of the second phase. The recent Frontline States Summit, where these countries pledged their support, had raised hopes for cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
However, recent developments have raised uncertainty as these countries reconsider their commitments. The withdrawal of support raises questions about the future of the Black Lion Operation and the effectiveness of regional cooperation against al-Shabab.
Diplomatic efforts are expected to intensify as Somali leaders seek to understand the motivations behind the withdrawal and explore possibilities for future collaboration. The Black Lion Operation is crucial for stability in Somalia, and without the expected reinforcements from neighboring allies, the government faces challenges in tackling the terrorist group.
Somali officials suspect that the unexpected withdrawal of financial support by the UAE has influenced the decisions of regional allies. The UAE’s decision reportedly came after learning of Ethiopia’s intention to oust one of their allies, Ahmed Madobe, once they liberate Buale and the entire Jubaland region. This adds further complexity to the situation.
Kenya, another key player, is currently facing a domestic crisis and financial strain, making it difficult for them to actively engage in Somalia without sufficient backing. Djibouti’s reduced commitment of only 400 soldiers has also raised concerns about their dedication to the joint effort.
Additionally, Ethiopia, who initially pledged 12,000 troops, has decided to withdraw their agreement following Somalia’s foreign policy shift towards Cairo. The exact reasons behind this decision remain undisclosed, but speculation suggests that Ethiopia sees it as a collaboration between elements in the Somali National Security Apparatus and al-Shabab.
The original target of 18,000 non-ATMIS troops has significantly decreased with the withdrawal of commitments from the UAE, Ethiopia, and the smaller contingent from Djibouti. With the stakes high, the Somali Government is now engaging in discussions with Ethiopia to understand the reasons behind their withdrawal and seek resolutions.
The situation in Somalia remains fluid and sensitive, with various geopolitical interests at play. The outcome of these developments will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the security and stability of the Horn of Africa.