AU assessment report delays plan for Somalia’s post-Atmis force

Sunday April 14 2024

Atmis Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding shakes hands with Commander of the US Army Special Operations Command and Rear Admiral Jamie Sands at Atmis force headquarters in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on Jube 14, 2023. PHOTO | ATMIS


The shape, size and scope of a new force to secure Somalia — after the exit of the current African Union peacekeeping mission at the end of this year — remain unknown as it emerges that the Horn of Africa nation is yet to submit its plan before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for consideration.

In a communique dated April 3, the African Union said Somalia’s plan for a new force to replace the African Union Transition Mission is Somalia (Atmis) will be submitted next month after the continental body undertakes a comprehensive study of the threats and needs on the ground before seeking endorsement of the UNSC.

The troubled Horn of Africa nation missed its initial timeline of end of March when it was expected to submit its proposal, due to consultations with the AU Peace and Security Council on March 26 and April 3 to plan for the new force that will start operations on January 1 2025, once Atmis exit is complete.

Read: Why Somalia wants another foreign force after ATMIS is done

The AU gave its support to Somalia call for a full assessment of the threats and current security needs, in a briefing by the Federal Republic of Somalia on its proposal for a post-Atmis security arrangement, pursuant to the UNSC Resolution 2710 (2023).

What is known for now is that the new force will be an AU-led, United Nations authorised peace support operation.


It will deploy and assume security responsibilities to support Somali security forces on January 1, 2025, a scenario that requires boots on the ground before end of this year to ensure seamless exit of Atmis troops and immediate replacement.

The AU is keen to preserve the gains that its mission has registered in Somalia for 17 years battling the Al Shabaab extremists and liberating more than 80 percent of Somali territory from the control of the Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group.

But as the mission gradually departs the Horn of Africa nation, with periodic drawdown of troops — with another 4000 troops to leave at the end of June — experts say Somalia remains vulnerable as the country’s efforts for force generation have not moved in tandem with Atmis numbers reduction.

Accordingly, the AU underlines the importance of preserving the gains registered since 2007 by Atmis predecessor [African Union Mission in Somalia] Amisom and the current momentum of joint offensive operations by the green berets and Somali forces in the fight against Al Shabaab.

Read: AU vows to complete exit from Somalia in 2024

International partners that have supported the AU mission and the rebuilding of Somalia’s army to take full responsibility of its security, want a “lean mission focusing on supporting the Somali security forces” to complete the country’s transition without creating a new strain on donor budgets.

But the AU also reiterates its deep concern over the Atmis funding gap — even as the force’s tenure ends in under eight months — stressing the need for adequate, sustainable and predictable funding for the mission, the burden of which, international partners have borne since 2007.

The EU, for instance, which foots soldiers mission allowances or salaries, has forked out in excess of €2.5 billion for Amisom/Atmis, but amidst mission fatigue and donors facing competing funding priorities elsewhere, the AU still looks the same source for “adequate, predictable and sustainable financing to the post-Atmis force.

In the same period, Acled reports that there were 167 explosions/remote violence events as a result of Al Shabaab attacks against security forces and Atmis bases, as well as security force operations against the militants.

Last month, particularly in Galmudug and Hirshabelle states, the SNA suffered significant setbacks, which led Al Shabaab to regain control of several areas after security forces withdrew from several bases, where internal tensions over logistics failures, corruption, and power struggles were reported.