Mogadishu(Mogadishu24)-President of the Federal Government of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has on Thursday delivered his speech at the United Nations Security Council’s meeting, focusing on the critical issue of security in Somalia. 

In his speech, the President unveiled his government’s roadmap for progress and the plan to fight against the Al-Shabaab militant group in what he described as “Operation Black Lion,” which is expected to start in July. Somalia’s forces will collaborate with non-ATMIS forces from Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. This joint operation signifies a united effort to combat the threat of Al-Shabaab and restore peace and stability to the nation.

“Looking ahead to the next phase in our fight against terrorism is ‘Operation Black Lion.’ This critical offensive aims to liberate the remaining Al-Shabaab-controlled territories across the country. With the support of our frontline states, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, we are confident that this campaign will significantly degrade Al-Shabaab and pave the way for sustainable peace and security,” the President said.

The President further highlighted the deployment of multinational planning and operational experts to the joint coordination command post in Mogadishu. The President emphasized the commitment to minimize harm to civilians throughout the operation.

“Although we have encountered slight setback due to the rainfall, a force generation requirement operation’s planning is well underway. A team of multinational planning operational experts have been deployed to joint coordination command post in Mogadishu. This operation holds immense significant in our quest for lasting peace and security. In addition, we will have teams actively monitoring the civilian protection component in the upcoming military operation, this demonstrates our commitment to minimize civilians’ harm and uphold human rights throughout the operations,” he added.

At a crucial time in Somalia’s security landscape, the drawdown of ATMIS forces, which have been stationed in the country for the past 15 years, coincides with the initiation of Operation Black Lion. As part of a planned transition, the ATMIS forces have begun transferring military bases to the Somali National Army, marking a significant step towards greater self-reliance. Among Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) that have already been transferred are Mir-taqwo, Hajji Ali, Marka Ayoub, and Arbao, symbolizing a tangible shift in responsibility and control.

“ATMIS this morning handed over Mir-taqwo Forward Operating Base (FOB) in the Hirshabelle State to the SNA. The gradual handover of security responsibilities is in line with UNSC Resolutions 2628 and 2670 which mandates ATMIS to drawdown 2000 troops by the end of June 2023,” ATMIS said in a tweet, signifying the gradual transfer of security responsibilities

As the drawdown process continues, ATMIS forces are set to hand over additional bases, scheduled for transfer within the month of June. The forthcoming transfers include Adale, Aljazeera one, and Geriley, marking further progress in the planned drawdown of international forces and the transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali National Army. With each transition, Somalia moves closer to assuming full control over its security apparatus, ensuring its ability to safeguard its territory and protect its people from the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups.

Addressing the ongoing drawdown of Africa Transition Mission (ATMIS) forces in Somalia, the President reiterated the commitment of Somali government in collaborating with its international stakeholders in facilitating the drawdown. 

“With the planning of current and future operations, we are also working towards the full withdrawal of ATMIS forces from Somalia in line with the UN Security Council resolutions 2628 and 2670. The planning and implementation of the ATMIS forces’ drawdown are being executed in close coordination with the joint technical committee between Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia.”

Meanwhile, highlighting on the collaboration between the two countries to combat terrorism, the Kenyan Minister of Defense, Hon. Adan Barre Duale delivered a strong message directly addressing the leaders of the Al-Shabaab insurgents. 

“We are coming for you, Al-Shabaab! We will use our land forces, navy, air force, and special forces to hunt you down both in Kenya and inside Somalia,” he declared.

Minister Duale emphasized the joint efforts with the Somali government and international allies to eliminate the threat of Al-Shabaab.

“We have agreed with the government in Somalia, under President Hassan Sheikh, and our partners and allies who have troops in Somalia that together we will finish Al-Shabaab.”

The collaborative efforts of Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia, as well as the ongoing support from the international community, demonstrate a unified front in the fight against terrorism in Somalia. The commitment to securing peace, stability, and prosperity remains at the forefront of these joint operations, as nations work together to eradicate the threat of Al-Shabaab and ensure a brighter future for the Somali people.

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