Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Somalia

Michael Barkin
Senior Policy Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 21, 2019


Thank you, Madam President, and thank you to our briefers for joining us today.

We’d like to add our condolences for the tragic death and urge justice and security for all of Somalia Civil Society

Since this Council last met in August, we have seen varying degrees of progress towards long-term security and stability in Somalia. The United States applauds the recent successes that the Somali national security forces have had against Al-Shabaab with AMISOM’s support, particularly in Lower Shabelle. We are encouraged by UN reports of fewer incidents of armed conflict during the last three months compared to the same period last year, and that Somali security forces are successfully reclaiming and holding territory from Al-Shabaab in the face of repeated counter attacks. We further support the ongoing efforts of AMISOM’s leadership and look to the Somali security forces and institutions to undertake the reforms and development that will enable them to take on greater responsibilities from AMISOM, in accordance with the transition plan.

In that regard, the United States is pleased to help build capacity within Somalia’s security forces and we appreciate Somalia’s partners on this Council who are also contributing to capacity building for the country’s security. It is crucial that we ensure collaboration and coherence in this overall effort. We are also encouraged that tensions between Somalia and Kenya appear to be easing and we remain prepared to facilitate future dialogue and reconciliation efforts. Additionally, we congratulate Somalia on its progress on fiscal reforms as it seeks eventual debt relief next year through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, and we encourage Somali authorities to continue its efforts.

With this is mind, the United States underscores the important role that sanctions have played in limiting Al-Shabaab’s operational capabilities, and we look forward to working with our partners to use the Somalia sanctions regime to choke off funding and other sources of support to al-Shabaab and further degrade its ability to carry out attacks against Somalia, its neighbors, and partners. We are, however, concerned by ongoing political divisions and the lack of positive engagement between the federal government in Mogadishu and the federal member states. We acknowledge the recent confidence-building efforts by the federal government and state governments of Galmudug and South-West State regarding political, security, and development challenges in their communities. But more needs to be done. We are troubled by the recent events in Jubaland and the state presidential election in August. We urge the federal government and Jubaland’s Madobe to engage in direct dialogue to address outstanding issues, and we encourage neighboring federal states and international partners to support efforts towards a resolution.

Finally, looking to 2021 elections, the United States urges the federal government and state governments to be transparent in their preparations and respect the rights of independent journalists to freely inform the public about electoral issues and developments. We also stress the importance of completing the outstanding elections-related laws that will serve as the foundation for the elections and deepen the trust between the federal and state governments. We caution that limiting electoral processes or delaying legislation will only damage the country’s goals of peace, stability, and economic growth.

Thank you.