Non-ATMIS Ethiopian Units Enter Gedo

12.3.2023: Dooloow, Gedo

Addis Ababa has deployed dozens of soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) to the Gedo region of Jubaland on Wednesday according to locals in the region.

According to reports, the units were accompanied by armoured vehicles and tanks amongst other heavy armaments.

While it is a common theme to witness the deployment of foreign troops in Somalia, the deployment of these ENDF do not come under the African Union’s Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) banner. In other words, these troops come under the direct orders of the Ethiopian High Command in Addis Ababa which has drawn criticism from some Somalis that see this deployment as further incursion on Somali sovereignty – a topic which has been a central to Somalia’s future in recent years with the UN-approved Somali-led security transition plan.

The criticism also comes at a time where Ethiopian troops stationed in Somalia celebrated the historic Battle of Adawa (1896) in which the Ethiopian Imperial Army handed a shocking defeat to the colonial Italian Empire which attempted to annex the region as part of Italian East Africa under the Berlin Conference agreements.

Frontline States Summit

It was last month when the Mahmoud Administration hosted leaders from Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti to discuss the fight against al-Shabab, as a wide-ranging offensive against the armed group gathered pace over the past several months – albeit it has slowed down in recent weeks.

In a communique, leaders noted that the regional countries had agreed to mobilize resources to support the ongoing military operations in Somalia. They also agreed to jointly plan and organise a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines, according to a communique issued at the time.

Earlier this month, the national security adviser to the President, Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed that Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya would send new troops to support Somali forces in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabab.

Sheikh-Ali emphasized that these troops would join the soldiers already serving in the African Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) but would not be part of the ATMIS mission.

“Their role is to jointly plan and operate under the command of the Somali security forces,” he said. “They will fight against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces. That is the plan.”

Federal Government Response

There has been no comment from the Federal Government in Mogadishu nor has there been any comment from the Ethiopian side.

Reports indicate that there will also be an influx of more foreign troops from Djibouti and Kenya to support the current war against Al-Shabab.

Many have highlighted that there are already over 20,000 African Union soldiers deployed in Somalia so why is there a need to deploy even more foreign troops? A simple question is why Villa Somalia and its neighbouring allies cannot utilise the readily available force stationed in Somalia.

ATMIS has been criticised over the past year for taking a more laid back approach to the current efforts against Al-Shabab in Galmudug and Hirshabelle.

Furthermore, many have highlighted the newly trained Somali Army units from Eritrea which are yet to be effectively utilised in the war against Al-Shabab, with some reports suggesting these troops will come under UAE supervision as an answer to the current financial struggles being faced by the Ministry of Defence which is reportedly unable to pay salaries.

For more on Somalia, follow Suldan Mohamed and HORUMAR.

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