Somalia: The Lawless Frontier

by Ann Garrison, published on Black Agenda Report, July 5, 2023

A UN “peacekeeping” mission continues operations in Somalia.

Last week the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to extend the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia until the end of December 2023, but the troops are supposed to withdraw entirely by the end of December 2024. The mission’s name is the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) , but although the troops are African, it’s actually a Security Council mission funded by the US/EU/NATO nations. I spoke to Somali Kenyan scholar Dr. Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad about the troops and whether or not they’ll really withdraw.

Ann Garrison: Dr. Abdiwahab, do you think the ATMIS troops will actually withdraw?

Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad: I don’t think so. ATMIS is there for the interest of the West in Somalia, and they’ll stay until their job is done. They have been there for fifteen years now, just guarding specific government installations, not fighting Al-Shabaab.  Their mandate was to root Al-Shabaab out of Somalia, but Al-Shabaab has not gone anywhere. In fact they’re much stronger than they were fifteen years ago. They infiltrated both ATMIS and the Somali National Army. They’re bribing the top military brass, looting sophisticated military hardware, and killing both government soldiers and ATMIS troops.

AG: What interests of the Western world do they serve, and how do they do that?

ASA: When I say the Western world, I mean the US, UK, EU and NATO. That’s who funds ATMIS. The AU failed to raise funds for it. The West’s interest is to keep Somalia weak, fragmented, and fragile, so that they can easily exploit its resources.

AG: Can you remind us what those resources are?

ASA: Somalia enjoys the longest coastline in Africa. The EU and others are doing illegal fishing and mining and dumping their worst waste products off the Somali coast. They’re also eager to extract its untapped offshore oil and gas reserves.

AG: Has President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (HSM) asked to have the ATMIS mission extended?

ASA:  HSM is a foreign project. He has to do what they want. His Western puppet masters dictate to him, and he is not answerable to his people, who never voted for him.

AG: Isn’t HSM calling on more foreign mercenaries to take the place of the ATMIS troops who have departed so far? According to reports some thousands of the 20,000 troops have departed and more will go by December.

ASA: One thing I can tell you for sure is that Hassan can’t go against his Western masters, and I think they want to bring foreign mercenaries in to minimize the cost. ATMIS is more expensive than they will be. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are training 10,000 mercenaries for the next six months to reduce the cost of ATMIS.

Somalia is a theater of war. It’s Afro action cinema.

AG: You’ve already got all sorts of private freelance mercenaries in Somalia. What are they up to?

ASA:  There are more than thirty foreign security companies stationed In the Halane compound in Mogadishu, the equivalent of the Green Zone in Iraq. If you talk publicly about what all these private freelance mercenaries are up to, you will become a moving target. You will be dead the next day. Somalia is the black hole of the globe, but, unfortunately, few researchers are aware of that.

AG: But you’re talking about it for Black Agenda Report,

ASA: Those in Somalia can’t talk about their activities, but I’m in Kenya where I can talk.

AG: So what do they do?

ASA: Illegal mining, illegal fishing, targeted assassination, illegal trade such as buying and selling weapons, guarding foreign embassies, escorting Western dignitaries, etc.

AG: It sounds like their excuse for being there might be guarding foreign embassies, escorting Western dignitaries, etc., and then they get up to all this extra stuff on the side.

ASA: Basically, they are guns for hire who develop their own business interests. They even do some training. These foreign freelance mercenaries are messing up all Somalia.

AG: Training whom?

ASA: They trained Somaliland Special Forces, and you know that Somaliland Special Forces are now attacking the people of Laascaanood in the Sool Region. who want to be part of Somalia, not part of a Somaliland secessionist state.

AG: What nationalities are they?

ASA: They’re mostly from Western countries.

AG: Are Blackwater mercenaries there?

ASA: Yes, they are there but using another name.

AG: This sounds like the Wild West, the lawless frontier.

ASA: It’s horrific.

AG: What do US troops bombing Al-Shabaab add to all this chaos and lawlessness?

ASA: They are there for their own interests, securing resources and geopolitical positioning for the West. They don’t care about anything else.

AG:  OK, we know that a nation without a sovereign military is not truly sovereign, so it’s impossible to say Somalia is truly sovereign with US troops, UN troops, and all sorts of mercenary armies operating there under different commands. What can be done to build a sovereign Somali military?

ASA: Somali security forces should be trained in a single friendly state, preferably Turkey, which enjoys a central command, and other countries must withdraw their proxy forces. Somalia must fully engage in bilateral security cooperation with the Turkish government during the training period, and the rest of the countries involved must stop their training. Once Somali forces have been trained to take control in Somalia, then ATIMIS, the US, and all the freelance mercenaries must leave the country with immediate effect.

AG: Dr. Abdiwahab, thank you for speaking to Black Agenda Report.

ASA: You’re most welcome.


Ann Garrison is a Black Agenda Report Contributing Editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann(at)anngarrison.com. Please help to support her work onPatreon  .

Dr. Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad is a researcher, Pan-Africanist, and Chairman of the Institute for Horn of Africa Strategic Studies.

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