U.S. suspends funding to Somali army due to graft claims

Somalia's newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo addresses lawmakers after winning the vote at the airport in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Somalia’s newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo addresses lawmakers after winning the vote at the airport in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, February 8, 2017. REUTERS

Somalia’s president is optimistic his government will win over donors. Last week the U.S. government suspended food and fuel supplies to the Somali armed forces due to claims of corruption.

CGTN’s Abdulaziz Billow takes a look at how the ban will affect Mogadishu and Washington in the fight against al-Shabaab

Mogadishu says its ready to equip and pay its military – days after U.S announced that it was suspending military support to Somalia’s national army battling the Al-Shabaab.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo made this reassurance while addressing his top generals who are expected to lead an all-out offensive against the Al Qaeda linked group.

“I hereby assure you that if a thing is halted, as a government we shall put extra effort that the suspension does not affect anyone. Whether it is salary or equipment, the government will bring what it can. I am telling you that we should depend on ourselves. We thank the foreigners who were supporting us. If they mentioned criticism, we are required to rectify.” Farmajo said.

Washington is by far Somalia’s main ally in the war against terror – and the suspension of logistical support comes after corruption concerns were highlighted in the military after US inspectors visited nine bases across Somalia noting that the military was unable to account for its aid.

However, in a bid to reassure its donors – Somalia’s leader has set up an office at the ministry of defence headquarters on the outskirts of Mogadishu vowing to allocate most of his time to rebuilding the country’s military.

“We will stand together in the fight against militant groups until will declare victory in the upcoming offensive. I’ll from now allocate most of my time to the military – we will provide the military with the biggest percentage of the budget and focus on the battle until we restore peace and stability to this nation.” Farmajo said.

U.S Defence Secretary James Mattis last week praised Somalia’s new leadership saying that it finally got a president worth supporting but also noted that changing a “culture of corruption” takes time

“America are not only doing drones- they are also doing a ground operation at the same time – I think they need to rescale, re-approach their political strategy in Somalia”. Abdisalam Yusuf Guled, a counter terrorism expert said.

Al-Shabaab has in the past months overran several forward operating bases for the Somali military – killing scores of soldiers and seizing military vehicles and weapons

African Union troops have already began withdrawing from Somalia ten years after they were first deployed – but following recent attacks Al-Shabaab is now ranked the deadliest terror outfit in the continent

But with decades long arms embargo still in place – experts suggest that the latest U.S suspension will deal a major blow in the U.S led campaign to eliminated terrorist groups