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Horn of Africa leaders agree to "final push" joint operation against Al Shabab

Wednesday February 1, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) - Mogadishu (HOL) - Somalia hosted a defence summit with its neighbouring countries on Wednesday aimed at coordinating a multi-national attack on Al Shabaab.

Djiboutian President, Ismael Omar Guelleh, Kenyan President, William Ruto, and Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed attended the one-day meeting, which was chaired by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Despite tight security around Somalia's capital, four mortar bombs struck near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, just hours before regional officials convened to plan a unified military campaign against Al-Shabaab.

The summit reviewed the conclusions of Tuesday's meeting of senior defence officials, including the Ministers of Defence and Chiefs of Defence Forces of three countries.

In a joint communique issued following the Somalia-Frontline States Summit, the national leaders said they recognize the need for new partnerships and enhancing solidarity in the fight against Al Shabaab.

The group commended Somalia for its commitment to purging the country of Al Shabaab.

The conference follows recent victories by Somali government soldiers and allied clan militia in their struggle against the al-Qaeda-linked militant insurgents.

The leaders pledged to "jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign at the frontline states level, of search and destroy Al-Shabaab on multiple frontlines aiming at the key strategic Al-Shabaab strongholds across the south and central Somalia." The statement said the multi-front operation is necessary to ensure that Al Shabaab does not slip into neighbouring countries.

The group said that it would support Somalia's request to equip its new units with both "lethal and non-lethal support" and increase the capabilities of the active units.

Somalia's neighbours said they would endorse Somalia's request to completely lift the three-decades-long arms embargo by the end of this year. The arms embargo is part of broader sanctions placed on Somalia by the United Nations in 1992 amidst the civil war. It includes measures to restrict the trade in weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment, as well as the provision of military training and technical assistance. Despite some modifications, the arms embargo has been reviewed and renewed several times.
For over a decade, Al Shabaab has waged a deadly insurgency against the Somali government, its neighbours, and other political, religious and military factions.  According to data gathered by the independent organization Armed Conflict, Location and Event Data Project, or ACLED, the group has carried out a number of high-profile acts, including bombs and murders, killing 4,000 people since 2010.


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