News / Africa

Weapons Flowing to Somali Militants

A February, 2011 photo shows al-Shabab fighters on parade with their guns during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia.
A February, 2011 photo shows al-Shabab fighters on parade with their guns during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The military offensive against the al-Shabab militia in Somalia has made major advances over the past year. However, al- Shabab has not been defeated. U.N. monitors reportedly say the group is receiving weapons from distribution networks with ties to Yemen and Iran.


Reuters quotes sources who say U.N. monitors report weapons are entering Somalia through Puntland and Somaliland in the north. From there they are transported south where al-Shabab is battling AU, Somali and Kenyan forces.

The news agency says the weapons include IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, and machine guns and that the weapons were made in Iran and North Korea.

Among those weighing what the U.N. monitors are reported to have said is Jonah Leff, of the Small Arms Survey, an independent research project.

He said, “Most of the new weapons that are entering the Horn are in fact coming into Somalia. A great portion of those are coming from Yemen. Of course, these are not conducted by the state of Yemen, but by individual arms dealers, but with the complicity of security officials both in Yemen , but also in Somalia - and mainly in the northern region of Puntland - so along the northern coast of Somalia, where shipping vessels deliver weapons to a number of small ports along the coast there.”

Leff said that he cannot confirm reports that some of the arms smuggled into Somalia were manufactured in Iran.

“But we do know that there’s a close link between Iran and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It’s been documented that Iran has supplied those rebels with weapons and also financial support. So, it’s quite likely that some of those weapons could have been diverted or have been sold outside of Yemen and into Somalia. Now even though Iran may be supplying them with weapons, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re supplying them with Iranian-manufactured weapons, which kind of complicates the situation when documenting those weapons in Somalia,” he said.

He said it may be easier to smuggle weapons into Somalia than many other countries.

“It has an enormous coastline, which is very difficult to monitor and to regulate. And given the fact that Somalia doesn’t quite have a fully functional security apparatus it’s very difficult to interdict weapons shipments that are coming into ports. Puntland has made some progress. They do have a growing naval security force that has been supported by a lot of Western donors,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said, Puntland’s security resources are limited. He added that many security officials at Somali ports have been bribed to allow weapons shipments in.

“Most of the weapons that are going into places like South Sudan or Congo or parts of Kenya - a good number of those weapons are originating in Somalia, which is just awash with weapons,” said Leff.

The United States is lobbying for an end to the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia. It’s been in effect since 1992. Some other countries are opposed to lifting it or want to see it gradually lifted. Jeff Leff of the Small Arms Survey says lifting it would be premature.

Leff said, “There’s still a lack of oversight and command over the country and ability to intercept or to regulate the illicit flow of weapons. I believe that lifting the arms embargo would only make it easier for some of these traders to continue selling arms into Somalia. And without some kind of robust system or mechanism for curbing those transfers, I think the embargo needs to remain in place.”

The United Nations Security Council is expected to address the situation in Somalia over the next several weeks. 

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland it would not be a surprise if Iran is involved in supplying weapons to al Shabab.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid