MOGADISHU (HAN) September 20. 2020. Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. Monitoring Regional Issues. The ubiquity of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Yemen, as well as centuries-old cultural and commercial ties with Somalia, has made Yemen the primary source for illicit arms among Somali importers. Consignments of small arms and ammunition from Yemen cross the Gulf of Aden in a matter of hours to the northern coast of Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in northern Somalia. The port city of Bosaso, Puntland’s largest city and commercial capital, is the financial epicentre of the illicit trade. Arms from Yemen fuel the ongoing civil conflict in Somalia, and many are believed to be transported on throughout the broader East Africa region.
A semi-informal system of international money transfer – commonly referred to as ‘hawala’– underpins the financing of the arms trade. This study focuses on the use of four Somali hawala money-transfer operators (MTOs) by six prominent arms dealers (or financial proxies) based in Yemen and Somalia. GI-TOC analyzed data from hundreds of remittance transactions involving these individuals, dating between 2014 and 2020.