AMISOM says 1,000 troops to leave Somalia; TPLF seizes the opportunity & dispatches force

7 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
VOA
 
MOGADISHU — African Union peacekeeping troops will start withdrawing from Somalia next month, says the head of the AU mission in the country.

Francisco Madeira told a news conference in Mogadishu that 1,000 soldiers from the five troop-contributing countries — Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti — will depart.

“As a result of this, troop movements have started in different parts of the country and will continue for the coming weeks,” Madeira said Tuesday. “This is a process of realignment to effect the reduction in numbers and also begin the handover process of national security responsibilities to the Somali national security forces.”

 
Members of the AU mission, known as AMISOM, have warned for over a year they may pull their troops from Somalia. AMISOM has been helping Somali governments battle militant group al-Shabab since 2007.

Madeira said the withdrawal will be conducted with caution to ensure that the security of the Somali people is not comprised.

“Our drawdown and transition must be gradual, conditions-based, responsible and done in a manner that does not compromise the safety and security of the Somali people,” he said.

He said, “We’ll exit this place when the SNA [Somali National Army] is ready to take over, when the SNA feel that we can now leave.”

The announcement to reduce troops comes a day after AMISOM announced an operation to flush out al-Shabab militants from the Lower Shabelle region and secure main supply routes in the area.

Paul Williams, an associate professor at George Washington University who is writing a book about AMISOM, says the troop reduction was not unexpected.

“The plan was always to reduce by 1,000 troops and add an additional 500 police by December 31st, 2017. Then there would be additional reductions and potentially reconfigurations by October 2018,” he said.

New military offensive

Madeira reiterated that AMISOM will be part of the much publicized offensive against al-Shabab in collaboration with the Somali National Army.

“We as AMISOM are aware of these preparations and we are going to work side by side with the government to defeat al-Shabab,” he said. “We are going to fight al-Shabab in all fronts, I’m not going to tell you which specific fronts so that al-Shabab does not run away from there but you will be seeing.”

Madeira said areas of upcoming operations will include Mogadishu and its surroundings, and urged the public to support the troops.

“Even if tomorrow or this afternoon or the day after tomorrow you see some other bombs blasting here in Mogadishu don’t worry because we are dealing with an invisible enemy and it has infiltrated some of these places but this is going to be stopped,” he said.

No additional Ethiopian troops

Madeira, who is from Mozambique, denied media reports that additional Ethiopian troops entered Somalia. He said troops who entered Somalia last week were just part of a routine rotational exercise.

“It just happens that troops that come from Uganda fly in, but the troops that come from Ethiopia, they can come through the border, because they can just drive, and people with other intentions are saying Ethiopians are amassing into Somalia,” he said.

The president of Somalia recently visited Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti, seeking support for the promised offensive against al-Shabab.

The government promised the offensive following the deadly October 14 truck bomb explosion in Mogadishu that killed 358 people, with 56 others missing and presumed dead.

Ethiopian troops move into Somalia ahead of offensive against Shabaab

(GoobjoogNewsNov 2, 2017) Contingents of Ethiopian troops Wednesday moved into Somalia in what could be part of a build up to a major offensive against Al-Shabaab following president Farmaajo’s visit to Ethiopia last week where he affirmed Ethiopia’s enhanced support.

Goobjoog News correspondent in Gedo region said several military vehicles carrying soldiers drove through the border town of Dolow since Wednesday evening and more could still be seen this morning.

“Around 35 military trucks came through Dolow yesterday around 5pm and have been gathering at Luuq town. Somali military personnel whom I have spoken to said more Ethiopian troops will still be coming in today.”

Luuq town is about 65km from the border town of Dolow.

The troops’ movement comes amid an ongoing security meeting between President Farmaajo and heads of federal state governments in Mogadishu which aims among others to craft a joint strategy involving the integration of regional forces into the national army in readiness for operation against Al-Shabaab.

President Farmaajo had vowed to avenge the October 14 deadly bombing in Mogadishu which claimed more than 400 lives and injuring hundreds others. Another bomb attack October 28 killed 27 people and injured more than 30 others.

The president also sought the help of Djibouti and Uganda with reports indicating Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni expressed will to send 5,000 more troops but on condition of UN support.

Ethiopia which was last to join Amisom in 2014 contributes 4395 troops based in sector three which covers parts of Gedo region and south western regions of Somalia. Besides soldiers under Amisom command, Ethiopia also has troops inside Somalia as part of bilateral agreement with Somalia.

 

Related:

Ethiopia on the brink. Everyone has failed Somalia— its politicos, Horn nations, AU, UN, the West bear huge responsibilities, TPLF most of all! PART I (1)
 

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