(Bloomberg) — Most African Union member states are urging the United Nations to help bolster its peacekeeping efforts in Somalia, which is contending with an insurgency being waged by an al-Qaeda affiliate, a call spurred by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
The AU deployed its Amisom peacekeeping force to Somalia in 2007 to fight the insurgents, known as al-Shabab, a task it hoped would be taken over by the Somali security forces. But with al-Shabab continuing to carry out suicide bombings and other attacks despite being the target of frequent U.S. drone strikes, the Somali government has remained heavily dependent on the African forces to keep the militants in check.
Amisom, which has almost 20,000 troops in Somalia, will require new funding to extend its mandate beyond the end of this year. The AU wants its mission to be extended until 2027, and for the UN to provide additional backing, Bankole Adeoye, the continental body’s commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, told reporters on Friday.
“We are calling on the UN, we are calling on all partners to continue to support Somalia knowing full well that we should not be thinking of the Afghanistan scenario on our continent,” he said. Officials in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, however oppose UN involvement in the peacekeeping effort, he said.
“We hope by the end of October, when we have to go back to the UN Security Council, we will be in a better place to say this is what Africa, Somalia, the UN and the European Union all want together,” Adeoye said.
Amisom’s conduct in Somalia came under scrutiny last month when its troops were implicated in killing seven civilians after one of its patrols was ambushed by al-Shabab in the town of Golweyn, 144 kilometers (90 miles) south of Mogadishu. Amisom said in a statement last month that it would investigate the incident.
The U.S. has been party to efforts to contain al-Shabab, which has waged its insurgency in Somalia since 2006 and wants to impose its version of Islamic law. President Donald Trump’s administration increased troop deployments to the country in mid-2017 as part of an enhanced counter-terrorism effort in the Horn of Africa, but most U.S. forces were ordered to leave by early 2021.
While Trump said the redeployment wouldn’t undermine the fight against terrorism, al-Shabab has intensified attacks since the pullout.
Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said in a statement on Thursday that Ikran Tahlil, one of its top female spy officers, had been abducted and killed by the Islamist militant group. Members of her family and opposition politicians expressed doubts that al-Shabab was behind the killing.