UN Authorizes Boost for AU Force in Somalia

The United Nations Security Council today authorized a boost for the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia, the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), of over 4,000 troops, from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel.  The resolution, adopted unanimously, also expanded the force’s logistical package and extended its mandate until October 31st, 2014.

Map released by AFRICOM in its 2013 posture statement showing governance in Somalia in 2012 and 2013.  One can see the decline in areas reported to be under Al-Shabaab control.

Map released by AFRICOM in its 2013 posture statement showing governance in Somalia in 2012 and 2013. One can see the decline in areas reported to be under Al-Shabaab control.

The UN Security Council made clear that the increase was temporary, in order to give AMISOM the capability to maintain basic security and respond to the evolving threat from Al-Shabaab insurgents.  This was said to be part of a larger exit strategy for the international force and after eighteen to twenty-four months it was hoped that a drawdown of the force could begin.  The UN Security Council also called for increased cooperation between the UN, AU, and the Federal Government of Somalia.  To this end, the UN established its own Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) in June.  In addition to bolstering the AMISOM force, recently Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the intention to deploy a static guard unit to protect UNSOM facilities.

Operations against Al-Shabaab conducted both by AMISOM, as well as other countries like the US, have steadily increased and the influence of the group has declined.  The US launched a raid against the group during the night of 5-6 October and there was a reported drone strike against a senior leadership figure on October 28th.  However, a significant amount of southern Somalia remains disputed and central government control is often exercised through largely independent political actors.  The northern regions of the country remain largely in the hands of the autonomous governments in the Somaliland and Puntland regions.   In May, nominally pro-government warlords reportedly funded by Kenya claimed to have established a new state, Jubaland, centered around the port city of Kismayo,  and promptly began fighting with each other for control of it.  It remains to be seen whether the Somalia authorities will be able to effectively govern in the absence of international forces.

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