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A Decade on the Frontline: Successes and Failures of AMISOM

Slightly over ten years ago, Somali was sinking deeper in to anarchy. The collapse of Government and the civil war that followed plunged the nation  into chaos and untold violence.  It was crying out for help, but seemingly its agony was drowned by other issues across the globe.

And on a hot and sunny February 20th 2007, the United Nations Security Council, under Resolution 1744 (2007) authorized the African Union (AU) to deploy a peacekeeping mission with an initial mandate of 6 months.

The intervention was to create a support mechanism for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government by countering the war waged by the Al-Shabaab, which by then had turned the country into the launching pad, from where it terrorized civilians at home and neighbouring countries.

About 1000 Uganda soldiers, the first contingent and what would be Amisom landed In March 2007. Initially, they controlled little more than the tiny parcel of land upon which the airport stood. As AMISOM slowly expanded its numbers, it pushed Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu and eventually, out of every major urban area in Somalia.

The mission slowly grew with added contingents from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. Since its initial deployment, AMISOM has endeavored to partner with Somali security forces in the fight against Al- Shabaab as a means of building their capacity. In mid-2011, Somali forces fought alongside AMISOM in the second Battle of Mogadishu (2010- 2011) to take back the capital, including most Al Shabaab strongholds.

In 2012, the Somali National Army (SNA) established six brigades stationed near Mogadishu, including two trained by the European Union Training Mission. That same year, SNA and AMISOM forces collaborated on Operation Sledge Hammer and successfully drove Al-Shabaab from its most strategically important base, the port city of Kismayo.

In October 2011, Kenyan forces launched a unilateral military intervention. Shortly thereafter, Ethiopian forces once again entered Somalia and advanced on Al-Shabaab positions across Bay, Bakool and Hiraan regions. In December of the same year, the AU developed a new Concept of Operations for AMISOM to take into account these major developments. It outlined a larger AMISOM force of nearly 18,000 uniformed personnel and hugely expanded its theatre of operations across four land sectors covering South-Central Somalia.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council endorsed this new posture in January and February 2012 respectively. The AMISOM troop contingent has since grown to over 22,000 troops.

Over the course of the 10 years of its existence, AMISOM has managed to drive out Al-Shabaab from vast swathes of the country, including key towns in Somalia.

This was executed through three major military operations namely, Operation Eagle, Operation Indian Ocean and Operation Jubba Corridor. The objectives of these operations were three-fold, namely, freeing cities, disrupting the terrorists’ supply routes and preventing them from levying illegal taxes on the population.

As recently as November 2017, AMISOM troops have yet again launched a massive operation to flush out Al-Shabaab militants in the Lower Shabelle region and secure the main supply routes in the area.

Operation Eagle

Launched in 2014, Operation Eagle aimed to seize control of the few remaining urban centers under Al Shabaab’s control and consolidate the authority of the Somali Federal Government. It was a major joint military operation by AMISOM and the Somali National Army (SNA) and proved successful in liberating and driving out Al Shabaab from several strategic towns in the regions of Benadir, Lower Shabelle, Bay, Bakool, Gedo, Hiiraan, Galgaduudand Middle Shabelle. This strategy was continued under ‘Operation Indian Ocean’ and ‘Operation Jubba Corridor’.

Operation Indian Ocean

Operation Indian Ocean followed in August 2014: Its aim was to cut off key supply routes that act as the life-line for Al-Shabaab and to remove them from their remaining coastal strongholds, including the port of Barawe, Al-Shabaab’s administrative headquarters 100km south of the capital, Mogadishu. Other liberated towns included Tayeeglow, Bulomarer and Kurtunwaarey.

Operation Jubba Corridor

In July 2015 AMISOM announced the resumption of active military offensive operations against the Al Shabaab in southern Somalia. This offensive, code-named Operation Juba Corridor, was aimed at removing the Al Shabaab from their strongholds in the Gedo (Taraka, Jungal, Duraned, Eel-elaan, Habakhaluul, Meyon, Magalay, Duraned, Bardhere), Bakool (Buur-dhuhunle, Kulun-jareer,Moragabey, Legaly and Gelewoyni) and Bay (Ufurow, Eesow, Hasanow-Mumin, Liidaale, Makoon, Dhargo and Manaas) regions of Somalia.

The hard-won peace and subsequent stabilization of security over the course of 10 years has brought with it sweeping change to the once war-torn nation. The initial interventions of AMISOM saw the Transitional Federal Government able to take residence in Somalia and subsequently hand over power. Somalia has a result seen two successive government regimes with seamless handovers of power.

The key successes of the military operations of AMISOM and Allied Forces won substantial territory from Al Shabaab and ensured an environment where Somali government institutions can rebuild and thrive.

It has also facilitated the rebirth of the economy and the gradual return to normal life for the Somalia people in a peaceful environment. The growth of Somali institutions and the strengthening of Somalia security forces means that AMISOM can eventually hand over the responsibility of security back to the Somalia people.

With the support of AMISOM’s military operations, the authority of the Federal Government of Somalia has expanded outside of Mogadishu and into the regions, it has allowed for the strengthening of democratic processes in the country and capacitation of the Somali National Government to provide governance and leadership e.g. through the creation of federal states and installation of regional governments.

Notably, there has  successful execution of parliamentary and presidential elections in early 2017 that saw Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’ take office and created  an  environment where the economy, industry and business can thrive.

Within the decade, there has been a major increase the return of refugees and diaspora Somalis, some of whom were born abroad and had never been to the country following the creation of a fully functioning society with access to social services and amenities such as education, healthcare and recreational activities.

The mission stepped in to halt the continued downward spiral of the Somali nation and has achieved the extraordinary feat of delivering it from the jaws of anarchy and chaos.

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