Despite considerable resistance from Somalia’s government, the United Nations Security Council agreed to retain the country’s arms embargo, declaring that al-Shabab remains a severe danger to regional peace and security and that sanctions are needed to undermine its activities.
It was adopted on Thursday by a vote of 11-0, with abstentions from Russia, China, Gabon, and Ghana in support of the call by the Somali government, which is supported by the African Union, to lift the arms embargo. The resolution also expresses concern over the ongoing presence of ISIL (ISIS) affiliates in the Horn of Africa nation.
The arms embargo is modified by the British-drafted resolution to take into account the government’s advancements in streamlining the management of weapons and ammunition. Unless the UNSC committee monitoring sanctions objects within five working days of receiving notification from the government, Somalia may import portable surface-to-air missiles, higher-calibre mortars, anti-tank guided weapons, some aircraft and vessels designed or modified for military use, and combat drones for use by its security forces and police.
The benchmarks established following a recent technical assessment highlighting Somalia’s development, according to James Kariuki, the deputy UN ambassador for the United Kingdom, offer “a clear roadmap… that will help this council make further changes to weapons and ammunition measures in the future.”
“The steps made today will simplify processes for Somalia and its partners, and help speed up the journey,” he said.
The resolution maintains the codified arms embargo, a ban on the sale or transfer of essential parts of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that Al-Shabab has used, a ban on the import and export of Somali charcoal, a major source of income, and travel restrictions and asset freezes on people who pose a threat to the peace and are connected to Al-Shabab, including by providing financial support for or facilitating its operations.
In order to stop the flow of arms to feuding clan-based strongmen who overthrew Somalia’s leader Mohamed Siad Barre the year before and sparked a civil war, the UNSC imposed an arms embargo on Somalia in 1992.
After establishing a functioning transitional government in 2012, Somalia has been attempting to regain stability despite armed attacks and one of the worst droughts the nation has ever seen, which has forced thousands to the verge of starvation.
Under the leadership of newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the government of Somalia has launched a fresh offensive against al-Shabab, including initiatives to disrupt its financial system.
Robert Wood, the deputy ambassador for the US, expressed optimism that the government would keep moving forward on the standards, allowing for a further easing of the arms embargo.
He claimed that the sanctions regime put into place on Thursday is designed to help and enable the government to take “robust action” against al-Shabab, including by denying the organization of its financial resources. And he exhorted all nations to impose sanctions and deny al-Shabab access to money and weapons.