Top of a four-item mandate list for the reconstituted African Union (AU) mission in Somalia is “degrading Al Shabaab and other terrorist groups” active and operating in the troubled east African country.
The reconstituted mission will be known as ATMIS (AU Transition Mission in Somalia) replacing AMISOM (AU Mission in Somalia) after 15 years.
Acknowledgement of the need to change the mission focus and objectives comes from the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC). In a statement, the PSC said the changing nature of the security threat in Somalia has seen Al Shabaab evolve from “being primarily a military threat to a more asymmetric and hybrid one, using insurgency tactics of a terrorist-cum-organised criminal group” requiring reconfiguration of AMISOM.
Components of the renamed and reconstituted mission come into effect next month (April) with a stated aim of “gradual handover of security responsibilities” to Somali security forces by December 2024. ATMIS will, the AU PSC said, be guided by the Somali Transition Plan (STP).
The revamped mission’s other mandates are to provide security to the wider Somali population and open main supply routes; develop capacity in the Somali security forces; support government’s peace and reconciliation efforts and assist with developing capacity in and of Somali security, justice and local authority bodies and institutions.
“Joint shaping and clearing operations” and handing “some forward operating bases (FOBs)” to Somali security forces will follow with a third phase titled “decisive operations and handing over remaining FOBs” before “withdrawal and liquidation” of AMISOM.
Fourteen African nations contributed troops, equipment and police to AMISOM in its 14-year existence. They are Benin, Burundi, Djibouti, Chad, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.