Somali government calls for three-month “pause” in AU troop withdrawal

The Somali government has asked the UN for a three-month postponement of the withdrawal of African Union troops scheduled for the end of September, after suffering “several major setbacks” in its offensive against the radical Shebab Islamists.
“The federal government of Somalia officially requests a three-month technical pause in the withdrawal of the 3,000 uniformed personnel of the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS),” wrote the Somali president’s national security advisor, Hussein Cheikh Ali, in a letter dated September 19 and disclosed over the week-end.
A diplomatic source confirmed the authenticity of the letter, and another source close to the matter also indicated that such a request had been made by the Somali government.
This second phase of withdrawal, from 17,626 to 14,626 men, is due to take place on September 30, according to the timetable set out in a UN resolution mandating Atmis, which took over from Amisom in April 2022.
The Somali government has been conducting a military offensive in the center of the country for over a year, which has resulted in “the liberation of towns, villages and crucial supply routes”, stresses the National Security Advisor in the letter.
But the Somali forces suffered “several significant setbacks” at the end of August. “This unforeseen turn of events has strained our military forces (…) and necessitated a thorough reorganization to ensure that we maintain our momentum in the fight against the Shebab threat”, he adds.
For over 15 years, the Somali government, backed by the international community, has been fighting the insurrection of the radical Islamist Shebab, a group affiliated to al-Qaeda that wants to establish Islamic law in this country in the Horn of Africa.

About Geraldine Boechat 2766 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia