US supports “temporary halt” of ATMIS withdrawal from Somalia
US Supports “Technical Pause” in Withdrawal of ATMIS Troops from Somalia
The United States has expressed its support for the temporary halt in the withdrawal of troops from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). This decision aims to promote stability and prosperity in Somalia, a nation that has been combating violent extremism for the past two decades.
Last week, the Somali government requested the United Nations Security Council to intervene and pause the withdrawal of ATMIS soldiers from the country. They cited logistical challenges, including the need to maintain control over numerous towns that have been liberated from Al-Shabaab terrorists.
Shane Dixon, the US Charge chargé d’affaires, stated in an interview with Goobjoog TV that the United States takes Mogadishu’s request seriously and will support it in the Security Council. As a permanent member of the council, the US is committed to assisting Somalia.
“The U.S. embassy will support the needs and requests of the Federal Government of Somalia. We have always supported them and will continue to do so,” Dixon said. He emphasized that Al-Shabaab does not represent the future of Somalia, but rather the Somali government and its people do. The US will maintain close collaboration with Somalia and ATMIS, regardless of the troop withdrawal.
During this month, 3,000 additional soldiers are expected to leave Somalia, with 2,000 having already departed in June 2023. The African Union has been pushing for the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan (STP), which aims to transfer security responsibilities to Somali forces by December 2024, leaving behind a remaining 17,000 soldiers.
In a letter, National Security Advisor Hussein Sheikh Ali reaffirmed Somalia’s commitment to the complete withdrawal of ATMIS by the end of 2024. He stated that the temporary pause will ultimately contribute to long-lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Somalia.
Recent incidents, such as the casualties suffered by the Somali National Army in Oswein, have highlighted the challenges faced in maintaining control over liberated towns. Some soldiers have been put on trial for neglecting their duties, in violation of military protocols.
The US envoy also emphasized the commitment of the United States and other international partners in assisting the development of the Somali National Army. “We want the SNA to reach its utmost potential,” stated the US diplomat, highlighting the collaborative efforts with other partners.
For the past 16 years, Al-Shabaab militants have been fighting to overthrow Somalia’s fragile UN-backed federal government, resulting in the loss of numerous security officers and innocent civilians. However, Somali security forces have managed to liberate several strategically important towns in the country.