Source: Qatar to host six-party meeting on Somalia in coming months
Thursday March 2, 2023

Parties at the Washington meeting have agreed to reconvene in Doha “within the next three months for ongoing discussions and to take stock of progress.”

Qatar has renewed its commitment to peace in Somalia during a six-party meeting held in the United States to tackle counterterrorism in the African country, confirming a follow -up meeting in Doha in the coming months.

In a statement, the US State Department said the meeting on Tuesday dealt with “Somalia’s security, state-building, development, and humanitarian priorities.”

The participants at the meeting included Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

“They discussed how to better support Somalia’s fight against Al-Shabaab and prepare for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia drawdown, and agreed to strengthen coordination of international security assistance,” the State Department statement read.

Translating to ‘The Youth’ in Arabic, Al Shabaab first emerged as the extremist youth wing of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, which ruled Mogadishu in 2006 before Ethiopian forces drove them out.

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Al-Shabaab holds connections to other militant groups in Africa, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is based in the Sahara desert.

The group seeks to overthrow the central government of Somalia and install its own system of governance based on a strict application of Islamic law, also known as sharia.

In October, the US military claimed to have killed Abdullahi Nadir, a group leader of the militant Al-Shabaab.

Parties at the Washington meeting agreed to reconvene in Doha “within the next three months for ongoing discussions and to take stock of progress.”

The parties said they are committed to supporting Mogadishu’s “efforts to meet the benchmarks on weapons and ammunition management” to enable the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to fully lift the arms controls on Somalia’s government.

During the height of the conflict in Somalia in 1992, the UNSC established an arms embargo on the country that was since amended to provide exemptions.

Currently, the embargo is set to last until 17 November this year.

Representatives at the Washington meeting also voiced backing for political reconciliation in Somalia as well as steps to finalise the constitution.

“The partners encourage and support Somalia’s National Consultative Council (NCC) process in promoting political reconciliation and to delineate the roles and responsibilities of levels of government in Somalia, including by finalising the constitution,” the statement read.

Officials also tapped into the ongoing conflict between forces from Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland and Dhulbahante militia in the Somali city of Lascaanood.

“The partners expressed concern about the ongoing conflict in and around Lascanood and called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire, de-escalate, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue,” the joint communique read.

Meanwhile, the worsening drought in Somalia has been a key issue of concern and has driven out thousands to neighbouring areas.

“They welcomed support along with international actors to meet the immediate needs of the Somali people, while also strengthening Somalia’s ability to withstand future climate shocks,” the parties said.

Last year, the UN said that more than 755,000 people have been internally displaced in Somalia because of the country’s severe drought, raising the total to one million since January 2021.

The dry season is the worst in 40 years, with more fears over a rise in famine and displacement.

In April last year, Qatar announced plans to invest $1.5 million as part of an emergency response and “resilience-building” in Somalia