News / Africa

UN Security Council Sets Stage for Lifting Somalia Arms Embargo

FILE - The United Nations Security CouncilFILE - The United Nations Security Council
x
FILE - The United Nations Security Council
FILE - The United Nations Security Council
Reuters
The U.N. Security Council is considering lifting an arms embargo on Somalia's government for one year so it can beef up its army to combat Islamist fighters, according to a draft resolution that is due to be voted on by the divided council on Wednesday.

The Somalia government has asked for the arms embargo to be lifted and the United States has been pushing the council to agree, but Britain and France have been wary of removing the ban in a country already awash with weapons, diplomats say.

The draft resolution, drawn up by Britain and obtained by Reuters, appears to propose a compromise: lifting the arms embargo for one year but keeping restrictions in place on heavy weapons such as surface to air missiles, howitzers and cannons.

The draft resolution says the arms embargo shall not apply to the deliveries of other "weapons or military equipment or the provision of advice, assistance or training, intended solely for the development of the security forces of the federal government of Somalia and to provide security for the Somali people."

It says that these weapons and equipment "may not be resold to, transferred to, or made available for use by, any individual or entity not in the service of the security forces of the federal government of Somalia."

The 15-member council imposed the arms embargo in 1992 to cut the flow of arms to feuding warlords, who a year earlier ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged Somalia into civil war. Somalia held its first national vote since 1991 last year to elect a president and prime minister.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this month suggested the Security Council consider lifting the arms embargo to help rebuild Somalia's forces and consolidate military gains against al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants.

But some council members are concerned about the security risks involved with removing the arms embargo and one council diplomats said the proposed move "sends shivers down the spine."

Militant Infiltration

The Security Council's Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, an independent panel that reports on compliance with U.N. sanctions, have warned that the Islamist militants in Somalia are receiving weapons from distribution networks linked to Yemen and Iran, diplomats have told Reuters.

A U.N. diplomat also said the U.N. monitors had reported that some al-Shabab militants had infiltrated units of the Somali security forces.

The council is scheduled to vote on the draft resolution on Wednesday before the mandate of the 17,600-strong AU peacekeeping force, known as AMISOM, expires on Thursday. The resolution would renew AU peacekeeping force for one year and reconfigure the U.N. mission in the Horn of Africa country.

AU troops from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Ethiopia are battling al Shabaab militants on several fronts in Somalia and have forced them to abandon significant territory in southern and central areas of the country.

The militants, who affiliated themselves with al-Qaida in February last year, launched their campaign against the government in early 2007, seeking to impose sharia, or strict Islamic law, on the entire country.

The Somali government believes lifting the embargo will help it strengthen its poorly-equipped, ill-disciplined military - more a group of rival militias than a cohesive fighting force loyal to a single president.

The draft resolution requires that the Somalia government or the country delivering assistance notify the Security Council "at least five days in advance of any deliveries of weapons and military equipment ... providing details of such deliveries and assistance and the specific place of delivery in Somalia."

It also asks the government to report regularly on the structure of the security forces and the infrastructure and procedures in place to ensure safe storage, maintenance and distribution of military equipment.

The removal of the arms embargo would be reviewed in one year, according to the draft resolution.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs