Is Britain’s Position on the Arms Embargo on Somalia right?

By Adan M. Dawad

A clan militia leader in Mogadishu threatens to attack Villa Somalia.

Britain opposes lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia. Nearly one month ago the British government advised its citizen not to go to Mogadishu where government forces clashed in April. The Federal Government of Somalia has lobbied UN members to end the arms embargo on Somalia. Why lift arms embargo on a country whose government relies on African peacekeepers?

The Federal Government of Somalia is currently being threatened by clan militias, and yet neither the Prime Minister nor the Union of Presidential Candidates opposes such a move to destabilize Mogadishu. They know that arms delivered in Mogadishu will end up in local militias’ hands. That is why, unlike the State Department’s knee-jerk reaction, UNSOM statement on the political rift is measured. What is more worrisome is the Turkish role in training and equipping Mogadishu-centric troops that can, at the slightest change of the political atmosphere, join and pledge loyalty to clan militias.

Dame Barbara Woodward is the UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

The Federal Government should not have used the security reform as an evidence that Somalia has the capacity to prevent its forces from becoming clan militias. In 2001 militias loyal to warlords undermined the Transitional National Government of Somalia. Not a lot has changed in Mogadishu since 2001 due to parallel authorities.

Militias threatening Villa Somalia expose the rhetoric of the Federal Government of Somalia. It took a group of armed men calling themselves National Salvation Force to capture parts of Mogadishu with the tacit support of the Prime Minister and Union of Presidential Candidates. Is there a doubt in the mind of even the most ardent supporters of Federal Government of Somalia that relaxing or lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia is threat to the national and the regional security?

Al-shabaab can easily mutate into clan militias to be able to lay its hands on arms and drones of the Somali National Army. Britain is right to oppose the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia.

By Adan M. Dawad