U.N. Security Council set to vote on Somalia Arms Embargo following 2 days Delay

17.11.2022: New York, USA

The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) is set to vote on whether to extend Somalia’s arms embargo- which has been enforce since 1992 during the height of the Somali Civil War- in the coming hour.

The UNSC adopted Resolution 2661 on Tuesday which rolled over the initial Resolution 2607 for two days. However, many are asking why there was this unusual delay and extension.

Why the Delay to the Vote?

The negotiations on the draft resolution were difficult.

The UK, the penholder on Somalia, circulated an initial draft text to Council members on 4 November and convened one round of negotiation on 7 November. It then revised the text three times to accommodate inputs and comments from Council members. The UK placed the third draft text under silence procedure on 11 November, until Monday morning (14 November).

However, Russia rejected British proposals opposed new exemptions put forward by the UK as well as changes to the name of the sanctions committee and the reference to the dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. Additionally, China submitted comments on some of the aforementioned issues. As a result, the vote on the draft resolution, which was initially scheduled for Monday, was postponed to Tuesday (15 November) to allow for further deliberations.

Nevertheless, UNSC members were still unable to reach compromise on the divisive issues by Tuesday, the day the sanctions regime was due to expire. Consequently, the UK tabled for a vote a 48-hour technical rollover of the 751 regime, which was adopted unanimously as Resolution 2661.

What are proposals rejected by Russia?

  • Military Training Exemptions

The initial draft circulated by the UK allowed the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), the EU training and support activities, Türkiye, the UK and the US to provide military support and training to the Somali government only. It seems that Russia was not comfortable with this list, and said that it should also be open to other potential partners.

  • References to Eritrea-Djibouti Dispute

In previous years, one of the most divisive issues in the negotiations centred on references to the dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. The relationship between Somalia and Eritrea was addressed in Somalia-related sanctions resolutions since the adoption of Resolution 1907 of 23 December 2009 which accused Eritrea of supporting Al-Shabab. Indeed, relations between Mogadishu and Asmara are nowhere near the same, with latter training 5,000 Somali soldiers to support the fight against Al-Shabab. Additionally, President Hassan Sheikh visited Eritrea twice already since his election in May.

The two countries also formed part of the trio-alliance with Ethiopia during the Presidency of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo which saw peace reached between Asmara and Addis Ababa following decades of hostility since Eritrean independence due to disputes surrounding the border.

Interestingly, the initial draft did not reference the Djibouti-Eritrea dispute. However, Djibouti apparently sent a note verbale to all Council members explaining its position on the need for the Council to follow developments towards the normalisation of relations between the two countries. Subsequently, the UK added language in the revised draft.

Charcoal Trade and Jubaland

The U.N. Panel of Experts on Somalia visited Kismayo from 5 to 7 September and inspected charcoal stockpiles in and around the city which may be worth $12 million according to the U.N. It recommended in its report a one-time partial lifting of the ban to allow the clean-up of these stockpiles. However, a difficult question remains as to how and why such a large quantity of charcoal is stored in Kismaayo despite the ban? It indicates that the trade is continuing to flourish meaning Al-Shabab continues to source a large chunk of income from this. Additionally, how can we ensure transparency so no charcoal is sold abroad during the move?

As the Federal Government has declared war on Al-Shabab, a serious question remains as to why Jubaland strongman Ahmed Madobe is still allowing this trade to continue which directly benefits Al-Shabab in its fight against the Federal Government.

Interestingly, the only region Al-Shabab controls in its entirety is Middle Jubba which is one of the three regions of Jubaland. In fact, Jubaland’s state capital, Buaale is still under Al-Shabab control yet Madobe remains reluctant to fight his former allies turned enemy.


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