The United Nation Security Council has unanimously voted to extend the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until May 2019 a move that has been met with conflicting reactions from across the board. The council cited deteriorating security and an upsurge of attacks on security and civilian population as the motivating factor for the extension.
It is important to note that the extension will bring the AMISOM mandate close to a little over 12 years begging the question about its efficacy and effect it has on the political and military condition of the East African Nation. Security analysts have on numerous occasions referred to Somalia as the ‘army-less’ nation partly because of the de facto role played by the peacekeeping forces as well as the non-existent structure in the country’s military and security forces.
Somalia has been under civil for over two decades which has created a political and power vacuum that was filed by the al Qaeda affiliated a Shabaab seeking to establish a society governed by sharia law. The rampant spread of the radical agenda by the al Shabaab through violence and intimidation spurred the international intervention in fighting the terrorists and establishing a unifying federal government. Since 2007, AMISOM has taken center stage in the counterinsurgency campaign and by default becoming the de facto army in the somewhat lawless Horn of Africa nation with an estimated 22,000 troops from different countries.
The ballooned role undertaken by AMISOM has without a doubt affected the capabilities of Somalia to establish and maintain an Army that is fully capable of handling the interior security of the country. However, lack of a military has not always been associated with Somalia as in the 1960s with the help of the Soviet Union, the country had sought to build a formidable army referred to be the locals as ‘The Lions of Africa’.
However, the situation in Somalia is very multi-faceted as a lot of factors can be attributed to the lack of a military that can adequately protect the sovereignty of the nation and protect her citizenry from both domestic and foreign enemies. Ergo, highlighted below are some factors that have limited Somalia’s capability to create and sustain an army both directly and indirectly.
- Corruption and Lack of commitment by leaders – Somalia has been ranked as the most corrupt country 11 years running making it a deep-rooted cause of the failed nature of the nation on all fronts. For instance, political and military leaders have created loopholes that allow them to funnel the monies donated by the West and Gulf countries alike into their pockets ergo affecting the operation of the military and other security outfits. Somali National Army (SNA) is further affected by the corruption in the system when it comes to military equipment and guns typically from ally-nations which tend to disappear and are later sold to the highest bidder in the black market a fact that has affect performance. Corruption within the political framework has seen political leaders higher al Shabaab militants (sworn enemy of the state) to intimidate and even assassinate political rivals and as such enabling the same outfit the SNA is expected to fight.
- Al Shabaab– the terror organization headquartered in Somalia cause a significant challenge to the establishment of a military in the country. The presence of the terrorist organization prompts and guarantees a prolonged presence of AMISOM in the country and as such relegating SNA to a secondary supporting role in national security. As long as al Shabaab is active, high-tech weaponry and funding for AMISOM is prioritized as compared to the SNA’s limiting both their logistical and military capability.
- Infiltration by Al Shabaab/ double agents- intelligence reports indicate that SNA and other security agencies have been heavily infiltrated by al Shabaab militants who sabotage any positive progress and milestones achieved by the forces. blackmail of SNA soldiers by al Shabaab is quite fecund which in turn affects the level of trust among soldiers creating porous structural loopholes that affect the capabilities of the troops.
- Funding – while it is may appear as a legitimate challenge, the bureaucracy surrounding a military being almost entirely funded by the international community is cumbersome as it limits indirectly the capability and performance of SNA. It is a known fact that the stipends paid to SNA soldiers come from the fund-kitty from the US, EU and some gulf countries which could vary, be late or even entirely cut off making the day-to-day operations very difficult. The delayed funding not only demotivates the SNA soldiers but also plunge them into activities that undermine the sole mandate of the security forces.
- Ill-equipped and Trained soldiers and Arms embargo on Somalia– different countries have taken it upon themselves to open and fund the training Of SNA troops makes it problematic to consolidate the differently trained troops to form a fully functional force. Various countries have different military models which differ in ways big and small, from the way that soldiers salute the chain of command, combat formations, tactical approach and choice of weapons and as such further merging them becomes problematic rendering them ineffective. SNA soldiers are unequipped, to say the least, soldiers lack weapons, communication devices, and protective gear. They use their mobile devices to communicate sensitive information easily tapped by Hormuud Telecom, which has a sizable market share and plenty of al-Shabab influence.
Somalia has by all means seen better days with its military capability but the same has been diminished since the inception of al Shabaab and the continued state of disarray and war. While we cannot fully ignore the presence of some semblance of a military structure in the country, the SNA cannot support or sustain the security of the war-torn nation in its current state. Adept steps especially by AMISOM ought to be taken to ensure that upon the exit of the peacekeepers a consolidated and uncompromised military is left in charge of the state security of Somalia to ensure rebuilding and overall reconstruction of the Horn of Africa Nation.