Caption for the landscape image:

Will Somalia stand on its feet after AU troops finally exit?

Scroll down to read the article

Atmis Deputy Police Commander Moses Amoru addressing journalists at the Atmis force headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia on April 15, 2024. PHOTO | NMG

The muezzin's call echoed through the balmy Mogadishu air on August 11, 2023 summoning all, including Isak Aden Ali Garoow, for the Friday prayers.

A successful businessman, Isak had just secured a lucrative contract with the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis).

He was providing jobs for hundreds, a testament to his own determination and a symbol of a slowly rebuilding Somalia.

Suddenly, a boy, not older than nine, emerged from the throng, toting a gun. Before Isak could react, a shot rang out, and he was no more.

Investigations revealed a sinister truth – Isak's refusal to bow to Al Shabaab's extortion had sealed his fate.

Isak's death was a stark reminder of the precariousness of the peace in Somalia.

The Al Shabaab, funded through a web of illegal taxation, foreign support, and ruthless tactics, thrives in the chaos.

Local sympathisers provide 25 percent of this group’s funding through food and non-food donations as well as voluntary financing by businesspeople.

In the first week of April 2024, three roadside IEDs exploded in three different districts in Somalia, resulting in the deaths of one Somali National Army soldier, two Turkish aid workers and wounding of six Somali security guards. Al Shaabab claimed responsibility.

On February 2, 2024, the militant group ambushed a food convoy between Beletweyne and Mahas ar Afar-Irdood leaving at least 30 civilians dead, and nine trucks burnt.

These are some of the attacks that have for the last three decades been destabilising Somalia, a land once known for its rich cultural heritage and bustling trade routes.

Atmis, formed in 2022 as the successor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), now bears the responsibility of stabilising the nation.

Atmis has conducted drawdowns in its first two phases where 5,000 troops have left Somalia and 13 military bases turned over to Somali forces.

The drawdowns have seen the handover of Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) to the Somali National Army.

Despite these staggered handovers, a sense of unease lingers. Somalia's security forces, under development, face a formidable foe in Al Shabaab.

The militants, estimated to number over 12,000, have adapted their tactics. The group now operates Improvised Explosive Devices, Vehicle-borne IEDs and recently, drones for surveillance and rocket propelled grenades.

Atmis deputy police commissioner Moses Amoru, acknowledges the gravity of the situation. Violent extremism poses the most significant threat, dwarfing concerns over piracy or cybercrime.

“We assist the Somalia Police in recruit training but if there are no funds, we find ourselves stuck. Once the funds come, we handle the training but at times we want to train like a thousand officers but the funds we get can only support 100 then we have to stop and wait again,” said Mr Amoru.

As the Atmis mission nears its December exit date, anxiety is evident in Somalia.

Diplomats, troops, and even ordinary Somalis are worried about the nation's preparedness for the complete withdrawal.

Yet, amidst the uncertainty, there is a ray of hope. The Somali people are focused on rebuilding their lives as seeds of peace are being sown and it is up to them to nurture them.

One question remains: Will Somalia be strong after the exit?