Somalia wants arms embargo lifted
13 February 2012, 17:37
Mogadishu - Somalia's government called on Monday for the lifting of an
arms embargo to help it resist an al-Qaeda-backed Islamist insurgency.
appeal follows al-Qaeda's declaration last week that the Somali
militant group al-Shabaab was joining its ranks, which raised concerns
the Somali rebels' weakened campaign might be re-energised.
experts speculate al-Shabaab might be encouraged to carry out an
al-Qaeda-style attack, perhaps on neighbouring Kenya which has sent
troops to Somalia fight the Islamist insurgency.
powers to help, Mogadishu asked the international community to "lift the
arms embargo on Somalia so that it could defend the country" and
"increase and reinforce the Somali National Army".
believe that their union will increase the insecurity in Somalia, east
Africa and the rest of the world and that Somalia risks becoming an
al-Qaeda base in east Africa," Somalia's information ministry said in a
The United Nations imposed the arms embargo in 1992,
the year after clan warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and plunged
the country into a civil conflict that still festers.
has been amended several times, including in 2006 to allow for an
African peacekeeping force to prop up the government and in 2007, in
part to allow for the peacekeepers to be supplied with weapons and
The request comes ahead of a conference in
London next week to discuss measures to tackle instability in Somalia
and piracy off its shores.
Somali government wants to buy its own tanks and modern weapons to crush
al-Shabaab," government spokesperson Abdirahman Osman told Reuters.
which professed loyalty to al-Qaeda several years ago, relinquished
control of the coastal capital in August, under pressure from the
African Union's Amisom force.
The rebels continue to hold swathes
of central and southern Somalia but are being squeezed out of some
areas by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops.
Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage led a rally in support of al-Qaeda in the
rebel-controlled town of Elasha, 15km outside the capital, on Monday.
Somali participants not waste time at the London conference. They
intend to colonise Somalia," he told hundreds of residents from the
Some residents said they had been forced to take to the
streets. One said the militants had driven through Elasha on Sunday in
cars mounted with loud speakers ordering business owners to close their
doors on Monday or face punishment.
"We hate al-Shabaab, how can we love al-Qaeda," said one mother-of-six, declining to be named in fear of a reprisal attack.
is a hotspot in the US-led was on militant Islam and the
al-Qaeda-al-Shabaab merge appeared a calculated bid to restore morale
and reinforce each other's relevance after testing periods for both.
[al-Qaeda] announcement seems to suggest that the al-Qaeda core is
looking to cement its relationship with jihadi affiliates outside of
South Asia and shows how East Africa is moving to the centre of global
security concerns," said Robert Crowley of Janusian risk consultants.
Britain has warned it is only a matter of time before Islamist militants trained in Somalia strike on British soil.
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