Exit Strategy Challenges for the AU Mission in Somalia

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) alone cannot defeat al-Shabaab. This can only happen if AMISOM can partner with a capable, legitimate and inclusive set of Somali security forces. Unfortunately, over the last decade, Somalia’s political leaders have failed to forge a political settlement that charts an agreed pathway towards creating an effective set of professional national security forces. The African Union (AU) and AMISOM’s international partners have exacerbated the problem by failing to provide the mission with vital capabilities, including the 12 military helicopters authorized in 2012. Moreover, the growing influence of Somalia’s neighboring states within AMISOM has damaged the mission’s reputation among Somalis. These failings have not only further endangered AMISOM personnel, they have also undermined the mission’s effectiveness and the prospects of stabilizing Somalia.

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One Comment

  1. DeepCogitation
    Posted April 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Excellent piece.

    The table on page 16 perhaps is the best indicator on what to expect as the final outcome of the missions. This outcome is not unique to Somalia but is in fact mirrored in the interventions found in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc. In as much as the groups are militant, ultimately this is an intervention that must end in political settlement. Looking at the factors listed as requirements for an ideal exit, these are unreachable and require at least another decade of intervention under the present circumstances. A local SNA requires the support of AMISOM or other foreign agencies, this in turn fuels the hard core local resistance that will paint the SNA as a tool or puppet for the west. Lack of such support leaves the country pretty much like Libya and Syria, with a vacuum that quickly gets filled up with terror groups.

    A variation of Strategy 3 is probably the best way out which allows all the invested factions to get to a discussion table. It may be indeterminate and volatile like South Sudan but its probably the only one that can eventually lead to workable lasting ceasefire. Political settlements are far much less than adequate, but are the only true vehicle for such a process. Of course there are those who will run off with the prize (government) but then we have many of those in Africa and other places already (Mugabe, Bashir, Museveni, Assad) etc, and the populations largely move on and get by.

    Other than this,, then AMISOM must pulverize Al-Shabaab and totally eliminate/annihilate any threat they pose and with no hope for future recovery. Such a mission will be very costly to mobilize and will also require that civilian populations incur significant casualties

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