Peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) will begin withdrawing 1,000 troops from Somalia today as part of a transfer of primary security responsibilities back to Mogadishu.
Somalia has suffered from civil war and conflict for close to thirty years and now faces an al-Shabaab insurgency. More than 20,000 AU and international peacekeepers are statationed in the country. The drawdown is in advance of the end of AMISOM’s mandate in 2020.
With Somalian elections scheduled in 2020, neighboring countries have raised concerns that Mogadishu does not have the capacity nor the resources to maintain internal stability on its own.
While civil conflict has subsided in the past decade, al-Shabaab’s insurgency continues to undermine security in Mogadishu the country’s central and northern regions. US air strikes have helped to contain conflict to more remote areas, but Somalian armed forces have been unable to secure these areas without AMISOM assistance.
AMISOM’s first scheduled withdrawal is unlikely to change the security situation, but it does raise concerns over the long-term. Any deterioration in security during future drawdowns is likely to be scrutinised by the UN Security Council, which oversees and authorises AMISOM’s deployment, raising the possibility of AMISOM troops remaining past 2020.
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Kai looks at security and political turbulence in the emerging market economies and also serves as a publisher with The Daily Brief.