Somali actors and the Issue of Arms Embargo Hypocrisy

Editorial Note: According to the general understanding of Somali cultural political systems, the curse of Somalia is the clan system. It is the main point of reference for most Somalis, and it really became a crippling burden when long-ruling dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. In the pre-independence days and the early years afterward, the clans were able to unite against their Italian and British colonial rulers, but in 1991 they had to create a new government without an external enemy. They couldn’t do it.

There is a famous saying that goes, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I think it is both.

Today, Ahmed Said (Abwaan-kuluc) Opinion elaborated that issue: Despite years of arms embargo, Somalia has been killing its citizens in the name of violent organizations or in the name of so called Somali governments. Although the arms embargo against Somalia has been there for years, there has never been a shortage of arms in Somalia to kill people or to engage in senseless wars. That shows the arms embargo has been either ineffective or has been breached by both the international actors that constantly meddle with the affairs of Somalia and by the various groups in the country that are at loggerheads with one another in never-ending violence.

In order to fight Al Shabab, the arms embargo was eased on the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). Nevertheless, there have been allegations, especially in the recent report by the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group that violations occurred on the part of the FGS. The report alleges that piles of weapons intended for the FGS vanished from warehouses and are available for sale in black markets. The report adds that the missing weapons allegedly went to Al Shabab. : The Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia was first created on 24 April 1992 to oversee the general and complete arms embargo imposed by Security Council resolution 733 (1992) and to undertake the tasks set out by the Security Council in paragraph 11 of resolution 751 (1992) and, subsequently, in paragraph 4 of resolution 1356 (2001) and paragraph 11 of resolution 1844 (2008). : The Somali government has denied allegations in a United Nations report that says arms shipments to the government have been diverted to clan militias and in one case an al-Shabaab commander, Somalia’s Shabelle Media Network reported Sunday (February 16th). “We are really surprised with these accusations,” said Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Abdirahman Duale Beyle. “We have never sold our weapons nor misused them.”

A confidential report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, seen by AFP on Friday, found “high level and systematic abuses in weapons management and distribution” by Somali authorities. : “Without adequate safeguards, arms transfers may expose Somali civilians to even greater risk and worsen the humanitarian situation,” said Gemma Davies, Amnesty International’s Somalia researcher.
“For several years, the arms embargo on Somalia has been continuously violated with arms supplied to armed groups on all sides of the conflict. The flow of arms to Somalia has fuelled serious human rights abuses committed during the conflict.”

The innocent people of Somalia are the victims in the realm of the Somalia’s arms embargo in the sense that the arms embargo seems to have been violated, not only by Somali actors but by outside forces who have interests in Somalia. The question of arms embargo on Somalia has flavors of hypocrisy on the part of the international community, who after the UN imposed the arms embargo in 1992, failed to guard and oversee any potential violations of the arms embargo. The hypocrisy of the arms embargo on the part of the United nations is that the world have the eyes to see some countries like Eritrea who commit those violations and turn a blind eye to other countries who violate the arms embargo.

The international community and the United Nations need to wake up from their hypocrisy as to the arms embargo and should try to enforce it partially without giving certain countries the privilege to do whatever they want in Somalia and punishing those countries that are not friends of the superpowers in the United nations.

In reality, the victims killed with those weapons that are flooded into Somalia are the innocent people of Somalia. I don’t believe it has any merit for the UN to keep easing the arms embargo on Somalia from a certain time to a certain time. What is worth praising, instead, is for the UN to completely lift the arms embargo on Federal Government of Somalia so that it can effectively fight with insurgent groups like Al Shabab. After the arms embargo lifting has taken place, the UN should ensure the weapons to the Federal Government of Somalia should not fall into the wrong hands of insurgent groups like Al Shabab. At the same time, the Federal Government of Somalia should come up with transparency and keep a clean record of never again violating the trust of the international community. If the Federal Government of Somalia loses that trust, it could lose a great degree of potentiality when it comes to many important areas such as working with the international community in order to insure that Somalia restores its integrity as a nation in the community of nations.

HAN & Geeska Afrika Online Contributor, by. Ahmed Said (Abwaan-kuluc) , is a Somali American blogger based in Minnesota