Tomorrow (15 May), the Security Council is set to reauthorise the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until 31 July and to hold a briefing, followed by consultations, on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). The UN Special Representative and head of UNSOM, Michael Keating, and the AU Special Representative and head of AMISOM, Francisco Caetano José Madeira, will brief on the situation in Somalia, both via video-teleconference.
The AMISOM draft resolution, which is now in blue, consists of three operative paragraphs. It requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide a logistical support package for AMISOM and 70 AMISOM civilians, the 10,900 Somalia National Army on joint operations with AMISOM, and the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).
Resolution 2372 of 30 August 2017 requested the AU and the UN to conduct a joint comprehensive assessment of AMISOM’s concept of operations, which was to feed into the Council’s consideration of AMISOM’s reauthorisation this month. However, this assessment has been delayed, and it is now expected to be completed by 15 June. As a result, Council members are in general agreement that it is most prudent to adopt a “technical rollover” reauthorising AMISOM in order to allow for the consideration of the assessment report before a longer reauthorisation. Accordingly, the preamble of the resolution in blue recognises the importance of adequate time to consider the report’s recommendations and the need to extend the mission’s authorisation.
An overarching issue pertaining to AMISOM is funding. This is expected to be at the core of discussions around AMISOM’s reauthorisation before the end of July. On 19 April, the Secretary-General transmitted to the Council a report on the future funding for AMISOM, which was prepared by the AU and UN Special Envoys on AMISOM Funding, Ramtane Lamamra and Jean-Marie Guéhenno, respectively. The report, which has not been published, recommended that discussion on AMISOM and its funding be placed in the context of a broader international strategy for Somalia. It reiterated that assessed contributions remain the best long-term option for sustainable and predictable funding of the mission, but that, in the meantime, voluntary contributions should be pursued. The US in particular is opposed to the idea of assessed contributions for the funding of AMISOM, a non-UN mission.
The government of Somalia has developed a transition plan for the Somali National Security Forces to take over security responsibilities from AMISOM. On 30 April, the AU Peace and Security Council met to discuss the transition plan and endorsed it in a communiqué. On 2 May, an EU security summit on Somalia was held in Brussels, where the transition plan was discussed. A joint statement issued by Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and the Deputy Secretary of the European External Action Service, Pedro Serrano, stated that the Somalia Partnership Forum will meet in Brussels on 26 June to further discuss the plan and, among other things, make commitments to sustain progress in Somalia, including with regard to predictable funding for AMISOM and support for Somali security forces.
Progress in implementing the transition plan will be of interest to Council members tomorrow, when the Council will also discuss UNSOM. Keating is likely to address the political situation in the country. Tensions between the speaker of parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari, and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed resulted in a standoff at the parliament on 4 April that threatened to turn violent. Allies of the president sought to put forward a no-confidence motion against Jawari, reflecting a longstanding dispute over the exercise of legislative and executive powers. Parliamentary police loyal to Jawari deployed inside the parliament to prevent a vote on the motion, while state security forces loyal to the president were stationed outside the building. The standoff ended peacefully after AMISOM intervened to encourage the sides to engage in dialogue. On 9 April, Jawari resigned ahead of another planned no-confidence vote. The recent UNSOM report of 2 May (S/2018/411) notes that the political crisis has led to renewed inter-clan tensions and distracted the government and the federal member states from carrying out preparatory work for the elections due to be held in 2020-2021, the support of which is integral to UNSOM’s mandate.
Council members will also be interested in updates on the security and humanitarian situations. The UNSOM report notes the volatile security situation in Somalia, particularly in light of increased Al-Shabaab activity since February. On the humanitarian situation, the report notes that the risk of famine has been reduced, although the situation is still dire. Some 5.4 million people, down from a peak of 6.2 million, are still in need of assistance, while the number of people in urgent need of life-saving assistance has dropped from 3.2 million to 2.7 million.
Another issue that may draw attention from Council members is the relationship between Somalia and the UAE. When the Council adopted resolution 2408 renewing UNSOM’s mandate in March, Somali Permanent Representative Abukar Dahir Osman strongly criticised the UAE for violating Somalia’s sovereignty, pointing to an agreement by the UAE-based Dubai Ports World with the regional authority of Somaliland, and the UAE’s construction of a military base in Somaliland without the federal government’s consent. On 8 April, Somali security services seized a $9.6 million cache of money at Mogadishu airport that had arrived from Abu Dhabi, further raising tensions. The cash was placed in Somalia’s central bank pending an investigation. The UAE asserted the money was to pay the salaries of Somali soldiers and trainees. The UAE has since ended its military training mission in Somalia and closed a hospital it operates in Mogadishu. Qatar and Turkey have reportedly offered to fill the void caused by the loss of military support.