The three neighboring countries of Somalia offered to send new troops to support Somali forces against al-Shabab in the next phase of military operations.
Somali Service on Wednesday, Hussein Sheikh-Ali said Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya will be sending troops in addition to the soldiers they already have serving as part of the African Transitional Mission in Somalia, or ATMIS. He said the new troops will not be part of the ATMIS mission.
“It is their plan to be coming inside Somalia within eight weeks,” he said.
Ali declined to give specific number of the incoming troops, citing “operational purposes.”
“Their role is to jointly plan and jointly operate under the command of the Somali security forces,” he said. “So, they will be fighting against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces. That is the plan.”
The leaders of the three countries attended a summit hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on February 1 in Mogadishu. In a communique at the time, they said they have agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines.
“The time-sensitive campaign will prevent any future infiltrating elements into the wider region,” the communique read.
Meanwhile, the Somali government has received a boost in its quest to have the decades-old weapons embargo lifted.
This week, representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — five countries that provide security assistance to Somalia — met in Washington, D.C., with Somali officials.
In a statement, the countries said they are committed to supporting Somalia’s effort to meet benchmarks on weapons and ammunition management with a view to “fully lift” the arms embargo by the United Nations.