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

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid