February 2019

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) continued airstrikes in the southern region of Somalia in the fight against Al Shabab targeting and killing militants in several operations carried out over the month however, General Thomas Walderhauser of AFRICOM insisted the airstrikes are insufficient in dealing with the group and Somali National Army (SNA) needs to take more responsibility with the country’s security.

There have been continued attacks by al Shabab in the capital city, Mogadishu. An explosion on February 4 caused the death of 9 individuals. The group was targeting government officials. In Boosaaso, a DP World port manager was killed by an al Shabab militant, the Deputy Attorney General of the Somali government, Mohammed Mursal, was assassinated on February 20, and Osman Elmi Boqore, a Member of Parliament, was assassinated on February 23, showing that the situation remains unchanged and that the Federal Government of Somalia has failed to bring stability and security to the country.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) conducted a four-day meeting from February 11 to develop an exit strategy for the peacekeeping troops by 2021. The meeting also focused on restructuring the operating bases after the 1,000 Burundi soldiers that shall withdraw by February 28. On February 16, AMISOM approved new operations under the new Concept of Operations (CONOPs) with the focus of supporting the Somalia Transition Plan.

President Mohamed Farmajo made a state visit to Burundi on February 16, amid protests of the Burundi government to withdraw its troops from AMISOM peacekeeping mission by the end of the month. The leaders had talks on strengthening bilateral relations and enhancing security cooperation. Farmajo acknowledged the efforts of Burundi in stabilizing the country and the sacrifices of the troops that served in the peacekeeping mission. Burundi contributes up to a quarter of the 5000 soldiers that currently make up the AMSIOM mission and troop contribution earns the country up to USD 18 million from the African Union quarterly as compensations for the soldiers.

On February 20, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza called for a meeting with the African Union who opposes the withdrawal of Burundian soldiers. Nevertheless, on February 21, 200 soldiers returned to Bujumbura and the Burundi government threatened to withdraw all of its soldiers if the African Union insists in withdrawing all 1000 troops by the end of the month. In this case, Burundi is at risk of losing the peacekeeping allowance that it has been receiving for the last decade.

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