Situation between Ethiopia and Somalia

Situation between Ethiopia and Somalia

Date | 17 January 2024

Today (17 January) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council is set to convene a session on the situation between Ethiopia and Somalia.

Following the opening statement of the Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma A. Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU, Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to brief the PSC. Representatives of Ethiopia and Somalia are also expected to make statements.

This session was not on the program of work of the PSC. The convening of this session came in the context of the tensions escalating between the two countries after the announcement of an MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland, a territory that declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but received no recognition from any member of the international community.

It was on 1 January 2024 that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi signed the MoU. According to reports, this deal will grant Addis Ababa twelve miles of sea access along the Somaliland coast for the next five decades, where it plans to construct a naval base. Ethiopia currently relies on Djibouti as a major trade partner, as 95 percent of Ethiopia’s imports and exports pass through Djibouti. Addis Ababa has indicated its strong desire for ways to diversify its access to the sea.

Somalia deemed Ethiopia’s latest MoU with Somaliland as a threat to its territorial integrity. In response, Somalia recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia. Amid the nationalist fury that this development triggered, Somalia officials pronounced their determination to go to war in defence of the territorial integrity of their country. Somalia has also sent requests to the AU and the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC) to convene meetings on the issue.

Rather than the deal on access to the sea for Ethiopia along the Somaliland coast on its own, the main centre of contention that sparked the tension seems to be the report that in exchange for access to the port of Berbera, Ethiopia would look to recognize Somaliland as an independent country at some point in the future. If indeed this were to happen, Ethiopia would end up being the first country to recognize Somaliland as an independent state.

Apart from bringing the relationship between Ethiopia and Somalia to near breaking point, the situation is also fuelling regional tensions. Somalia’s President announced that his country is willing to enlist the support of anyone willing to help the country secure its territorial integrity.

The regional body, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called for an Extraordinary Summit to be hosted by Uganda on this situation on 18 January. It is to be recalled that IGAD Executive Secretary issued a statement on 3 January expressing deep concern about these developments between the two countries and calling on the IGAD leaders to be seized with the matter. On 16 January, it is reported that Ethiopia sent a letter to the Chairperson of IGAD, Djibouti, indicating its inability to attend the summit due to short notice and prior commitments.

Regionally, Djibouti, which is also the Chairperson of IGAD, issued a statement calling for respect for territorial integrity of all member states of IGAD. The AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat also issued a statement on 3 January calling for calm and mutual respect to de-escalate the simmering tension. Additionally, Mahamat’s statement stressed ‘the imperative to respect unity, territorial integrity and full sovereignty of all African Union member states including the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.’

Further from the region, the European Union (EU) stated ‘the importance of respecting the unity, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia pursuant of its constitution, the Charters of the African Union and the United Nations.’  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League also expressed similar views, stating the need ‘to abide by the rules and principles of good neighbourly relations’ and to ‘respect the sovereignty of [neighbouring] countries and not to interfere in their internal affairs’.

As Somalia pushes for the convening of UNSC session, there is pressure on the PSC to provide guidance for the African 3+1 members of the UNSC and set the tone for a possible UNSC meeting. Today’s meeting is accordingly meant to enable the PSC to play its part within the framework of its mandate in the maintenance of peace and security in Africa as set out in the Protocol establishing it.

Apart from the concern about the escalating situation getting out of hand and leading to armed confrontations, members of the PSC are also concerned about the risks of this situation undermining the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), to which Ethiopia is a major troop-contributing country. It is also widely recognized that the presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia contributes to putting a check on the terrorist group Al Shabaab. At the same time, the MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland and the nationalist fury it unleashed can easily be instrumentalised by Al Shabaab for its recruitment efforts. Al Shabaab also issued a statement rejecting the MoU and threatening attack against Ethiopia.

Although the exact form of the outcome remains unknown as we go to press, if previous practice of the PSC is any guide, the expected outcome of the session would be a communiqué. The PSC may express its grave concern about the escalating tension between the two countries and emphasize the need for maximum restraint on the part of the two countries to ensure that the situation does not descend into confrontation. The PSC is also expected to welcome the statement issued by the AU Commission Chairperson on 3 January and in that respect urge respect for the principle of territorial integrity of member states which is one of the principles enshrined both in the Constitutive Act establishing the AU and the PSC Protocol. The PSC may also call for a high-level diplomatic effort to avert further escalation and find avenues for peaceful resolution of the situation.

Update on the situation in Somalia and activities of ATMIS

Update on the situation in Somalia and activities of ATMIS

Date | 13 September 2023

Tomorrow (14 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will receive updates on the situation in Somalia and activities of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), at its 1173rd meeting.

The session commences with the opening remark of the Chairperson of the PSC for September, Churchill Ewumbue Monono, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the AU, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS). It is expected that the PSC will receive briefing from Souef Mohamed El-Amine, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission for Somalia and Head of ATMIS. Others that may also deliver statement include the representatives of the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).

Tomorrow’s session will address a number of issues. The first of these relates to the preparations for the drawdown of ATMIS in accordance with the phased timeline set for the transfer of responsibility from ATMIS to Somalia Security Forces (SSF) and eventual withdrawal of ATMIS by December 2024. The second drawdown in accordance with the phased timeline is scheduled to take place by the end of this month. This is expected to involve the withdrawal of 3000 ATMIS troops.

During tomorrow’s session, the PSC is expected to hear from the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of ATMIS about the state of preparedness of ATMIS for the drawdown. On 31 July, the top military commanders of ATMIS held a four-day meeting in Mogadishu both to evaluate the first drawdown and to plan the second drawdown. The meeting thus deliberated on the FOBs that will be handed over to the government of Somalia under Phase two. During the 27 August joint visit to Baidoa in the South West State, ATMIS Deputy Force Commander in Charge of Logistics and Support, Maj. Gen. Muteti, who also leads the ATMIS technical evaluation committee, confirmed that ‘preparations are at an advance stage to drawdown 3000 ATMIS troops’. Earlier this week, El-Amine, the Head of ATMIS, along with the Under-Secretary-General of UN Department of Operational Support undertook a mission to Dhusamareb to review preparations for the second phase of the withdrawal of troops. El-Amine also held a meeting with President Hassan Shiekh Mohamed of Somalia for updating him on the second phase of ATIMS drawdown and the technical assessment of the first drawdown.

The second drawdown is also premised on not only the identification of the 3000 troops to be withdrawn but also the generation of forces by Somalia for taking over security responsibilities from the departing ATMIS troops. It would be of interest to the PSC to be updated on the preparations of SSF for taking over responsibilities. As outlined in the CONOPs, the FGS is expected to generate forces in each phase of the mission along with the phased drawdown of ATMIS. ATMIS drawdown and force generation by the FGS will take place concurrently. Accordingly, the FGS would generate 3,850 security forces at the end of the first phase, whereas 8,525 forces would be generated in the second phase. In other words, while ATMIS withdraws a total of 5,000 troops at the end of phase two, the FGS is envisaged to generate more than 12,000 forces. Yet, taking over security responsibility from ATMIS requires more than generating the requisite number of soldiers. It requires making those soldiers fit for purposes of both fighting Al-Shabaab and significantly holding and stabilizing territories freed from the terrorist group. It is thus imperative that they are equipped with the necessary logistics, technical capacities and financial provisions as well as workable command and control and political and military strategy that has firm support of both the federal government and federal member states.

There seem to be doubts about this given some of the recent setbacks in the offensive operations, which has created concerns about the risk of leaving a security vacuum that could be exploited by Al-Shabaab. The joint assessment report will be critical in understanding these challenges and informing future decisions on the ATMIS drawdown. During the negotiation on resolution 2687, some UN Security Council members were opposed to referencing December 2024 as the timeline for the mission’s final drawdown and exit because of these concerns but other members insisted on the need to state the December 2024 deadline. This is likely to be a controversial issue in the upcoming negotiations on the ATMIS mandate in December with a further drawdown of ATMIS personnel anticipated next year.

Dhusamareb, Somalia, 24 August 2023: ATMIS officials meeting with Somalia’s President. Source: ATMIS

The other issue that is expected to feature during tomorrow’s session is the ongoing offensive that the federal government in concert with local militias have initiated. The first phase of Somali-led offensives against al-Shabaab was launched between August of last year and January with Central Somalia (starting in Hirshabelle and then expanding to Galmudug state) as the main theatre of operation. It was hailed as successful, which according to some reports, enabled Somalia to reclaim one-third of its territory formerly lost to the terrorist group. In his briefing to the UN Security Council on 22 June, the Head of ATMIS, Ambassador Souef also reported that the military offensive under the leadership of SSF dislodged Al-Shabaab from over 70 locations across Somalia.

The second phase was announced at the end of March with the aim to expand the military operation toward the southern regions – Southwest and Jubaland states, but it was off to a slow start. Challenges including coordination with local leaders and communities are being encountered, leading to loss of momentum. During the past weeks, Somali security forces reportedly retreated from several areas liberated in recent months as Al-Shabaab launched deadly counter-attacks to retake lost territories. Speaking from Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug state, to galvanize support for the ongoing offensive operation, President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud vowed to continue the fight against Al-Shabaab until a final victory is achieved.

Apart from the offensive launched against Al-Shabaab, Somalia has also sought to bolster its capacity in the face of the drawdown of ATMIS via joint military operation involving the frontline states bordering Somalia. Within this framework, it was preparing to launch an offensive codenamed “Operation Black Lion” and it is banking on the support of frontline states namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya who pledged at a regional summit hosted by Mogadishu on 1 February to support the Somali government’s efforts. The PSC may also seek update on whether and how this planned joint operation is progressing. In this respect, one issue that deserves attention is the attacks Al-Shabaab orchestrated targeting the forward operating basis (FOBs) that ATMIS troops handed over to SSF as part of the drawdown, highlighting the need to pay attention to addressing the vulnerability of the forces taking over from ATMIS.

On the issue of Somalia’s campaign for the lifting of the arms embargo, President Mohamud attended a UN Security Council meeting on 22 June to make a strong appeal underscoring the significance of the issue to the fight against Al-Shabaab. The three African members and China supported Somalia’s request, while other Council members stressed the need for the country to strengthen its weapons and ammunition management.  Council members expect to receive during September an assessment report from the Secretary-General on progress in Somalia’s weapons and ammunition management ahead of their negotiations on the extension of the 751 Al-Shabaab sanctions regime in November.

Another important issue that deserves the attention of PSC members at tomorrow’s meeting is the security situation in Las Anod, a disputed area between Puntland and Somaliland. The region saw rising tensions since February because of fighting between Somaliland and Khatumo forces who want to be governed from Mogadishu rather than from Hargeisa. Somaliland accuses Puntland of supporting and abetting the Khatumo forces. Several days ago, renewed fighting commenced, resulting in significant casualties among Somaliland forces. Somaliland’s President Musa Bihi is now vowing to retaliate and there seems to be a major mobilization in this regard. ATMIS, IGAD, the UN, and other bilateral and international partners issued a joint statement on 27 August strongly condemning the escalating violence in Las Anod and urged all sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. They also called for an end to the mobilization of fighters and to the provision of supplies and armaments, underscoring the need to resolve all grievances and tensions peacefully and through dialogue.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to commend the Government of Somalia for the ongoing operation against Al-Shabaab and for the support from ATMIS. The PSC may encourage Somalia to continue enhancing the effectiveness of its troops and the strategy for holding territories reclaimed from Al-Shabaab. The PSC may also welcome the preparations undertaken by ATMIS and Somalia for the second phase of the drawdown and may call on them to ensure that the lessons learned from the first drawdown are adequately applied in order to avoid some of the gaps observed, including in relation to the transfer of FOBs from ATMIS troops to SSF. In the light of the capacity to orchestrate attacks that Al-Shabaab continues to display and the need for averting the emergence of security vacuum, the PSC may request that the drawdown is undertaken with due regard to the need for sustaining momentum and avoiding security relapse. PSC may reiterate its support for the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia and the need for the provision of support for expanding Somalia’s capacity in ammunition stockpile control and management. With respect to the fighting in Las Anod, the PSC may welcome the 27 August joint statement and echo the call on all parties to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and seek to resolve their disputes through negotiation.

One year of ATMIS Operations: Progress, Challenges and Funding

One year of ATMIS Operations: Progress, Challenges and Funding

Date | 28 April 2023

Tomorrow (28 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1151st session to take stock of the progress, challenges, and funding as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) marks the first anniversary of its operation on 1 April, replacing the 15 years long African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The session is expected to start with opening remarks by Abdelhamid Elgharbi, Permanent Representative of Tunisia and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of April, followed by introductory remarks of Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS). The representatives of Somalia and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are expected to deliver statements. The representatives of the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) are also among the speakers.

This session is coming against the background of increasing diplomatic efforts to address challenges facing ATMIS, most notably the dire funding shortfall facing the Mission. Delegates from ATMIS TCCs have started a four-day meeting on 24 April to evaluate the performance of the mission and deliberate on how to undertake a smooth withdrawal of the 2000 troops from Somalia as per the revised timeline of 30 June.

ATMIS, mandated through the PSC communique 1068 (2022) and the UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670 (2022) for a fixed period ending by 31 December 2024, is expected to undertake transfer of security responsibilities to SSF in four phases as envisaged in its Concept of Operations (CONOPs) and the STP. In each phase, different benchmarks and timelines are outlined that ATMIS and the FGS need to meet, including ATMIS troop drawdowns and force generation of the SSF (for more details on the four phases in the implementation of ATMIS mandate, see our March 2022 monthly digest).

But the last one year proved the difficulty of delivering on the agreed benchmarks and timelines as evidenced from the need necessitated by security conditions for delaying the first troop drawdowns for additional six months. 2000 ATMIS troops were set to withdraw at the end of Phase I on 31 December 2022. The FGS however requested the revision of the operational timeline for the drawdown considering the security situation on the ground. Accordingly, the PSC, at its 1121st session held on 11 November 2022, supported the request to extend Phase I of ATMIS for the drawdown of 2000 troops until 30 June 2023 while reaffirming to maintain the exit date of 31 December 2024. Accordingly, the UN Security Council Resolution 2670(2022) ‘exceptionally’ extended the authorization of the mission until 30 June.

While the drawdown created the space to undertake outstanding tasks during Phase I, it also brought about critical challenges as highlighted by the SRCC Souef during his remarks to the PSC and UNSC in March of this year. The first challenge is the unclarity over how to carry out the drawdown given that UNSC requested, under its Resolution 2670(2022), for the mission to implement a ‘strategic sector-by-sector’ approach to the drawdown of the 2000 troops while ATMIS CONOPs envisaged the ‘pro rata formula’ for the drawdown. The second challenge is that no funding modality has been agreed so far to fund the six months drawdown delay, further compounding the ATMIS funding shortfall.

Over the last one year, ATMIS has made notable progress in the execution of its mandate, carrying out joint kinetic operations with the SSF against Al Shabaab as well as providing critical support to the ‘SSF-led and owned offensive’ that has been launched since August 2022. Such offensives, which benefited greatly from the support provided by local communities, registered significant security gains inflicting defeats on Al Shabaab, particularly in Hirshabelle and Galmudug states, degrading Al Shabaab’s operational capability and recovering several towns and villages from the group. The successful security operations led by local militias and the FGS also paved the way for the handover of Forward Operating Basis (FOBs) as part of the security transition in line with the CONOPs and the STP. The first of such handover took place in January when ATMIS transferred Maslah FOB, which had been under its control since 2012, to the federal government. It also played critical role in securing the May 2022 Presidential election and the subsequent peaceful transfer of power in June 2022.

Encouraging, albeit slow, steps have been taken by the FGS to increase the pace of force generation that remains a critical factor for the realization of the STP and orderly exit of ATMIS at the end of 2024. In that context, the return of 3,500 Eritrean-trained Somali troops to Somalia, and the ongoing trainings of the SSF in Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Turkey, and Uganda are expected to enhance momentum in speeding up force generation that is critical towards the gradual transfer of security responsibilities to the SSF pursuant to the PSC communique 1068 (2022) and the UNSC Resolutions 2628 (2022).

The second drawdown of further 3000 troops should be completed by 30 September 2023. This means that ATMIS is expected to withdraw 5000 of its 18,586 troops from Somalia in the next five-month period. Despite the fact that ATMIS faced some of the most fatal attacks since the deployment of AU’s mission to Somalia and the security gains are not completely secure from facing reversals, it is anticipated that some of the gains made may avoid the need for a request for extending this second drawdown. This is more so the case on account also of the support and coordination that Somalia initiated with its neighbouring countries.

Above all, the funding shortfall has been one of the biggest challenges of ATMIS, risking reversal of the hard-won security gains in Somalia. The mission went operational without securing the required funding. Since then, the mission witnessed widening funding shortfall as highlighted above. On account of the seriousness of the problem, financing ATMIS has been one of the recurrent themes that featured throughout PSC’s sessions that are dedicated to address Somalia/ATMIS.

Despite the direct funding by the EU, which remains the major ATMIS financial contributor, the mission’s funding shortfall for the year 2022 was around €25.8 million, but the shortfall has considerably increased this year. In March, Bankole reportedly appealed to bilateral and international partners to help fill $ 89 million funding gap, further warning that if ATMIS does not have the funds to operate effectively in the coming months before the scheduled handover in December 2024, ‘it may mean that al-Shabaab will eventually take over the responsibilities of a state in Somalia.’ Even more concerning is the substantial reduction of EU’s contribution in support of ATMIS military component from Euro 140 million for 2022 to 85 million for 2023.

With the aim to address the budget shortfall, PSC sought different options in various of its sessions including an appeal to the UN Security Council to hold a special session on financing ATMIS and the SSF (1075th session); a call on EU and other partners to establish a financial support package (1075th session); and a request on AU Commission and UN, along with IGAD and partners, to jointly organize international pledging conference by March 2023 (1121st session). The PSC also stressed, in all its communiques adopted at the sessions on ATMIS, the need for accessing UN assessed contributions for sustainable and predictable funding necessary for the effective execution of the mandate of the mission.

As highlighted by Amani Africa’s ‘Ideas Indaba’ on the first anniversary of ATMIS, the AU Commission along with FGS most recently undertook a roadshow in an effort to mobilize funds to make up for the funding shortfall. This involved travels to and holding of convening with partners in New York and Washington DC for soliciting funding for ATMIS.  while no major breakthrough has emerged, India contributed $ 2 million following the roadshow in New York.

On its part, the AU is set to use its Peace Fund in line with the decision of the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly held in February that approved the ‘immediate use of the AU Peace Fund and its Crisis Reserve Facility (CRF)’ to fill the financial gap in ATMIS. While this is a welcome decision, for the immediate needs of ATMIS it would only avail from $ 5 million Crisis Reserve Fund that was approved and can be disbursed in the short term.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The PSC is expected to welcome progress made in the execution of ATMIS mandate over the last one year despite the challenges that the mission continues to face. It may particularly commend ATMIS and the FGS for the successful offensives launched against Al Shabaab and may further request them to keep up the momentum in the fight against the terrorist group. It may also emphasize the imperative of stabilization efforts to restore state authority and basic services in those areas that are liberated from the terrorist group. PSC is likely to commend the FGS for its effort to increase the pace of force generation as evidenced from the return of Eritrea-trained Somali troops to Somalia and the ongoing training in several other countries. In that regard, the PSC may highlight the issue of force generation in the required number and quality as a critical factor to ensure a timely and orderly transition of security responsibilities from ATMIS to the SSF. As the timelines for the first and second ATMIS troop drawdowns are fast approaching, the PSC may request the ATMIS leadership and the FGS to make timely preparations and work on all pending tasks to avoid any further delays to the agreed timelines for troop drawdowns. On financing ATMIS, the PSC is expected to express once again its deep concern over the mission’s funding shortfall that continues to widen and may draw attention to the risk of reversal of the hard-won security gains in Somalia without addressing this challenge. In that light, while acknowledging the significant support provided by the EU and other partners, the PSC may reiterate its appeal to bilateral and international partners to contribute their part in filling the existing financial gap. It may also reiterate its longstanding position over the possibility of using UN assessed contribution to finance ATMIS and ensure sustainable, predictable and adequate funding throughout the duration of the mission.

Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - March 2023

Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - March 2023

Date | March 2023

In March, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) was chaired by Tanzania. Four sessions were convened in March and two of these were committed to country specific situations whereas the other two addressed thematic issues on the agenda of the PSC. The initial program of work of the PSC also envisaged sessions on three other substantive issues but these were postponed.

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Briefing on the situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Briefing on the situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Date | 07 March 2023

Tomorrow (07 March), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1143rd session to assess key developments in the situation in Somalia and operations of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

Following opening remarks by Innocent Eugene Shiyo, Permanent Representative of Tanzania and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of March, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, Mohammed El-Amine Souef may also brief the PSC. The representatives of the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) are also expected to deliver statements.

The last time the PSC considered the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS was at its 1121st meeting held on 11 November 2022, when it approved the Somali government’s request to extend Phase I of ATMIS operational timelines for six months. Tomorrow’s meeting will afford the PSC the opportunity to deliberate on the security situation in Somalia, including the ongoing offensive operations against Al-Shabaab. The meeting is also expected to assess the status of force generation and integration and efforts being made to meet the extended deadline of 30 June 2023 for ATMIS Phase I drawdown. It will also follow on the request it made for the AU Commission to submit a joint report, including a technical assessment of progress made and compliance with agreed benchmarks, in order to guide the PSC on the next steps in the transition including proposals on revisions of the CONOPs and force generation requirements.

The Somali National Army (SNA) together with allied local militia have succeeded in dislodging Al-Shabaab from some of its strongholds in Galmudug and Hirshabelle regions in central Somalia. New operations have also been launched against the group in South West State and Jubaland in southern Somalia. President Mahmoud hosted a regional leaders’ summit on 1 February in Mogadishu to mobilize support for the ongoing offensive operations against Al-Shabaab. This was attended by the presidents of Djibouti and Kenya and the prime minister of Ethiopia. The leaders agreed to develop joint operational strategy against Al-Shabaab. In addition to their soldiers serving under ATMIS, these three countries are expected to deploy troops in Somalia in a matter of few weeks to support the offensive operations, according to media reports.

While under intense pressure, Al-Shabaab still continues to carry out heinous attacks using improvised explosive devices and other asymmetrical tactics. The group continues to carry out such attacks repeatedly in Mogadishu, sometimes in areas of the city meant to be protected from access to the group. Last month, ten people were killed in Mogadishu in an attack perpetrated by Al-Shabaab targeting military officials and militia fighters involved in the ongoing offensive operations.  The possibility of Al-Shabaab acquiring commercial drones to enhance its capabilities seems to have also become a major concern.

In terms of the role of ATMIS in the current Somali led offensive against Al-Shabaab, at the recently held meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Somalia, SRCC Souef explained that ATMIS has been providing support to the offensive operations by SNA and allied militia including through close air support, casualty evacuation and medical evacuation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, indirect fire support and combat service support such as ammunition, water, drugs and field accommodation.

At the PSC meeting on 7 March, SRCC Souef may explain the status of progress   in terms of the implementation of Phase I of ATMIS drawdown which hinges on the progress made by the Somali government in terms of force generation and integration. At the UNSC meeting, SRCC Souef said that Somali is on track to meet its target of training 15,000 new forces this year but called on the UN to enhance its support package to the Somali security forces (SSF) beyond the mandated 13,900 forces. He also underscored the need to undertake more detailed planning on a sector-by-sector approach to identify which areas that ATMIS should continue to hold and which areas the Somali government is ready to take over or accept the risk of some ATMIS troop drawdowns.

Only three months are left for the expiry of the extended deadline and, once again, there seems to be a need for consultation on the way forward not to allow a reversal of the gains made as a result of the recent offensive operations. This is expected to be raised at the UNSC meeting which is going to be held later this month to discuss the transition in Somalia with the participation of Representatives from Somalia, the AU, the EU, and ATMIS troop-contributing countries. Two reports to be presented by the end of April pursuant to resolution 2670 (2022) will also inform future UNSC discussion and action over the coming months. These include a sector-by-sector assessment of the security situation in Somalia and ATMIS performance to be presented by the AU as well as a progress report on the implementation of the Somali transition plan, including an updated force generation plan to be presented by the Somali government.

One possible way forward could be a further extension of the ATMIS timeline to facilitate more progress with the ongoing offensive operations, sustain the gains made recently and allow the Somali government to accelerate the force generation and integration process to pave the way for ATMIS drawdown. Like what happened in November last year, the request may have to come from the Somali government itself if there is a need for a further extension of the timeline. It is to be recalled that the PSC and UNSC in their joint communique of their 16th annual consultative meeting pointed out ‘the need to ensure ATMIS Force protection and to conduct the security transition in Somalia in a manner that does not lead to a security vacuum to be exploited by Al-Shabaab.’ However, such adjustments also require sustaining international support   and finding a way of addressing the funding shortfall that ATMIS is facing. When the timeline for its Phase I drawdown was extended by six months, the expectation was that bilateral and international partners will continue supporting the mission financially. A very positive development in this respect is the announcement by the EU of additional funding on 2 March last week. According to the statement from the EU, the EU Political and Security Committee approved additional Euro 85 million in support of both SSF and ATMIS. While this may not cover the funding shortfalls facing ATMIS, it would help in narrowing down the current funding gap.

The AU during the summit last month also reiterated its longstanding appeal to the UNSC to provide support to ATMIS and other AU peace support operations from UN assessed contributions. This is likely to be raised later this month when the UNSC meets to discuss the transition in Somalia. The issue of financing of ATMIS from UN assessed contributions cannot be separated from the broader discussions on the financing of AU peace support operations. This broader discussion will take place in the UNSC based on the upcoming report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to a 30 August 2022 Presidential statement and  will be submitted by the end of April. The report is expected to provide updates on progress made by the UN and the AU to fulfill the commitments set out in resolutions 2320 (2016) and 2378 (2017), including recommendations on how to move forward on the financing of AU peace support operations that reflect good practices and lessons learned with the view to secure predictable, sustainable and flexible resources. The AU consensus paper on predictable, adequate, and sustainable financing for AU peace and security activities which has been under discussion by the PSC has now been adopted by the 36th AU Summit. This could also contribute to the discussion over the coming months.

Tomorrow’s session can also serve as an opportunity for the PSC to follow up decisions from last year including from its 1075th session and the joint communique on the 16th consultative meeting of the PSC and the UNSC which invited ‘the UN Secretary General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to consider jointly convening an international pledging conference for ATMIS operations, by March 2023.’

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. The PSC may welcome the ongoing offensive  by the Somali government to degrade Al-Shabaab and commend ATMIS for its continued support. It may further welcome the joint operational strategy against Al-Shabaab planned by Somalia and its neighboring countries and encourage their continued efforts in this regard. The PSC may emphasize the need for consultations between the AU, UN, EU and the Somali government to determine timelines and exact areas for ATMIS drawdown ahead of the expiry of the fast approaching extended timeline for Phase I drawdown of ATMIS. It may also reiterate its earlier call for joint assessment and submission of report by the AU Commission. The PSC may welcome the announcement by the EU on the provision of additional funding to ATMIS and SSF. It may also echo the call made at the 36th AU Summit, for the UNSC to provide support to ATMIS and other AU peace support operations from UN assessed contributions.

Situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Date | 11 November 2022

Tomorrow (11 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to consider as an agenda item of its 1121st session, the request submitted by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to extend Phase 1 of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) CONOPS and to delay the drawdown of 2000 troops from December 2022 to June 2023.

The session will have two segments. In the first, open segment, opening remarks will be delivered by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Emilia Ndinealo Mkusa, to be followed with statements by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye and the Representative of the Federal Republic of Somalia, as the concerned country. In the closed segment of the session, Interim Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and Acting Head of ATMIS, Fiona Lortan will present a briefing to the Council.

It is to be recalled that Council last discussed the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS at its 1112th session which took place on 10 October 2022. The session served to consider the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the situation in Somalia and implementation of ATMIS’s mandate. At the session, Council drew attention to the fast approaching deadline of the drawdown of 2000 ATMIS troops which according to PSC’s decision outlined in the Communiqué of its 1068th session, is expected to take place by 31 December 2022. Tomorrow’s session is being convened in the context of this approaching deadline and the request submitted by FGS to extend the timeline of Phase 1 of ATMIS CONOPS which envisages the reduction of 2000 uniformed personnel by the end of December 2022.

Despite the registration of notable success in degrading Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group not only continues to maintain presence in multiple parts of the country, but is also continuing to plan and orchestrate its devastating attacks. As recent as 29 October 2022, Al-Shabaab carried out two major bombings in Mogadishu. The death toll from these attacks has reached over 120 people and continues to increase as many of the hundreds of people injured from the bombings are under intensive care and in critical conditions. The intensity and resulting death toll from these bombings is said to make the attack the second deadliest attack in Somalia’s history after the 14 October 2017 attack which claimed the lives of 587 people and injured hundreds more. Days after the attacks in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab fighters carried out another bombing targeting a Somali military base in central Galgaduud region. In addition to killing several soldiers, the fighters reportedly stole multiple weapons and military vehicles.

It emerges from these and other recent Al-Shabaab attacks that the terror group has the ability to carry out consecutive and at times, simultaneous attacks and is in possession of explosives that can cause heavy and wide-range damage to both human life and infrastructure. In the AU Commission Chairperson’s report submitted to the PSC’s 1112th session, it is also noted that not only is Al-Shabaab proving to be highly adoptive, it is also acquiring new capabilities in terms of both means and methods of carrying out attacks. It is noted for instance that the terrorist group has been able to acquire commercial drones, foreign fighters and snipers while also enhancing its ability to rapidly mobilise its forces and conduct swift intelligence-led targeted operations. These realities on the ground, along with the need to avoid any vacuum that may result from reduction of ATMIS at a time when the government affiliated forces are engaged in heavy fighting against the group, are likely among the factors informing FGS’s request to delay the envisaged drawdown of 2000 ATMIS uniformed personnel by the end of December 2022.

On its part, ATMIS has been able to carry out multiple successful operations against Al-Shabaab, jointly with the Somali Security Forces (SSF). As observed in the AU Commission Chairperson’s report, the mission has been engaged in key initiatives that have made significant military gains for SSF including the use of local community defence groups fighting alongside the national security forces, to liberate villages in the Hiraan region of Hirshabelle state and Galmudug. It has also been playing a significant role in providing operational support to the Somali Police Force in addition to its other multiple contributions. ATMIS however faces considerable challenges, mainly related to the absence of predictable funding and limitation of human resources – the last one being a major factor in overstretching existing ATMIS forces. This issue is also directly related to the slow progress obtained in Somalia’s force generation and integration, as an adequate generation of force under SSF would have lessened the existing burden on ATMIS. Speedy force generation and timely implementation of the Somali Transition Plan (STP) therefore remain key for the gradual handover of security responsibilities from ATMIS to SSF. It may hence interest Council to hear about the specific factors that continue to constrain the FGS in the implementation of the STP and the force generation and mobilisation process, in order to reflect on ways to address these challenges.

Phase 1 of ATMIS drawdown (reconfiguration) is also well underway but continues to experience delays due to the lagged process of force generation and mobilisation by the SSF. While ATMIS has already proposed prioritising reconfiguration of forces to reinforce Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and requested FGS to avail the agreed number of troops to take over the FOBs, FGS is clearly facing difficulties in availing the required forces. At its 1112th session, it is to be recalled that the PSC called on the international community and member States to provide support to the FGS in its force generation and integration efforts, in order to avoid delays being faced in the transition of security responsibilities from ATMIS to SSF. Council may wish to reiterate its call at tomorrow’s session.

On the political front, Somalia continues to register notable progress in terms of efforts aimed at strengthening both internal reconciliation (between FGS and Federal Member States (FMS) in particular) as well as external/foreign relations. Following his inauguration in June 2022, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been advancing the agenda of reconciliation and building an inclusive federal system in Somalia, in addition to being actively engaged in expanding diplomatic relations with multiple countries. In terms of priority areas, the FGS has adopted a four-year work plan, which has been endorsed by the FMS, envisaging activities within six major areas including security, justice, reconciliation, economic development, social development, and foreign relations. For the AU and other key partners of Somalia including UN and EU, it is critical to take note of these priorities and align their support along these lines.

Tomorrow’s session may also serve to reflect on the concerning humanitarian situation in Somalia. The current drought in Somalia is said to surpass the historic droughts of 2010/11 and 2016/17, both in its severity and duration. According to the UN, 7.8 million people in Somalia are affected by the drought as at end of October 2022. Among these are 1.1 million people who have been displaced due to the impacts of the drought. Of the affected people are also 1.8 million children who face acute malnutrition – accounting for over 50% of the total child population in the country – and 301,000 people facing phase-5/catastrophic level Acute Food Insecurity. In multiple of the drought affected areas, 10,440 cholera cases and 59 deaths were also recorded by the UN since January 2022. Added to these figures is the continuing displacement of people due to insecurity and intensifying conflicts between Al-Shabaab and government forces. In the month of September 2022 alone for instance, 101,000 people were newly displaced due to insecurity and conflict.

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. Council may commend the government of Somalia for political milestones achieved particularly in advancing engagement with FMS and setting national priorities. It may commend ATMIS for its perseverance and its continued support to the SSF in degrading Al-Shabaab. It may also condemn in strongest terms the recent consecutive attacks carried out by the insurgent group in various parts of the country and pay condolence to the families of those who lost their lives in these attacks. Having deliberated on the request of FGS to extend Phase 1 of ATMIS CONOPS and to delay the drawdown of 2000 troops to June 2023, Council may underscore the importance of fortified efforts of partners and international community to support the government of Somalia in carrying out all necessary tasks for the gradual handover of security responsibilities from ATMIS to the SSF, particularly in the area of force generation and integration. In this regard, it may accept the request on extension. Considering the implications of the extension on resources and logistics as well as the overall exit plan, the PSC may request the AU Commission to hold consultations with all the stakeholders to achieve consensus on the adjustments to the exit plan and the mobilization of the resources for implementing the adjusted plan. Council may further emphasise the importance of securing predictable, sustainable and flexible financing in order to ensure the mission’s continued effective and impactful operation and to maintain the security gains ATMIS and Somali forces continue to register. The Council may also urge the need for concerted efforts in the force generation and integration of SSF to ensure timely progress in the transfer of security responsibilities from ATMIS. Noting the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country and particularly the grave impact of the current drought, Council may call on the international community to mobilise timely humanitarian assistance to avert further suffering.



Date | November 2022

Namibia chaired the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) in November. The Provisional Program of Work initially envisaged six sessions with eight substantive agenda items. One of these sessions – a briefing on the deployment of 3000 troops to Sahel – was postponed to December. Two sessions that were not initially envisaged were added to the monthly program. Accordingly, the PSC held seven sessions in total. Of the seven sessions, four had two substantive agenda items (the 1117th, 1120th, 1121st, and 1122nd). Six of these agenda items were committed to country/region specific situations while three addressed thematic issues and one was a preparatory meeting held to receive key messages on climate change and peace and security nexus ahead of the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (COP 27). The remaining agenda was a consultative meeting of the PSC and the United Nations (UN) Peace Building Commission (UNPBC).

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Date | October 2022

In October, the Kingdom of Morocco was the monthly rotating chairperson of the Africa Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). The provisional program of work initially envisaged five substantive sessions of which two agenda items were dedicated to country/region specific issues. Two more agenda items with country/region focus were added in the course of the month. Accordingly, situations in the Horn of Africa, Central Africa and the Sahel were considered during the month. Overall the PSC convened seven (7) sessions and one joint consultative meeting addressing a total of eight (8) agenda items plus the consultative meeting.

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Ministerial session on the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS

Ministerial session on the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS

Date | 27 July 2022

Tomorrow (27 July), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1094th session at ministerial level to consider the situation in Somalia and operations of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

The session will start with the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson for July, Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, followed by remarks of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. PSC is then expected to receive a briefing by the Interim Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, Ms. Fiona Lortan. As a country of concern, the representative of Somalia is also expected to make statements. In addition, the representatives of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), as well as United Kingdom (UK) may deliver statements.

The session is expected to take stock of recent developments in Somalia and the progress made in the implementation of the mandates of ATMIS as envisaged in PSC communique 1068 (2022) and UN Security Council Resolution 2628 (2022), which authorized the new mission. This will be the third time for the PSC to discuss ATMIS since the Mission’s launch on 1 April 2022. It is to be recalled that PSC decided the reconfiguration of AMISOM into ATMIS during its 1068th session held on 8 March 2022. Tomorrow’s session is also convened within the framework of the PSC’s request in the communiqué of its 1068th session for the Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC) to submit quarterly reports on the implementation of ATMIS mandate, including the steps taken by the FGS and international partners in implementing the new Concept of Operations (CONOPs). The session also comes at the backdrop of Council’s field mission to Somalia that took place from 19 to 22 July. As such, the session will greatly benefit from the delegation’s assessment of the situation on the ground and the outcomes of its engagement with various stakeholders.

On the situation in Somalia, the conclusion of the protracted parliamentary and presidential elections is one of the political developments since PSC’s last session that will receive attention during tomorrow’s session. On 15 May, the electoral process culminated in the election as President of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s President between 2012 and 2017, defeating the incumbent, Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’. On 16 May, AUC Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, welcomed the outcome of the election, noting the crucial role played by the Somalia Security Forces (SSF) and ATMIS to guarantee security for the election processes. In a statement issued by his Spokesperson on 16 May welcoming the conclusion of the election, UN Secretary-General (SG) António Guterres expressed his hope that ‘the new president would move swiftly to form an inclusive Cabinet, and that the new Government and federal member states will work closely together to advance critical national priorities and address the challenges Somalia faces.’

During his inaugural address on 9 June, President Mohamud outlined that national reconciliation, improving relations between the central Government and federal member states, addressing the security threat from Al-Shabaab, and attending the dire drought conditions are among his national priorities. Given the difficulties the AU mission faced in the relationship with the previous administration, for the PSC maintaining a healthy relationship with the host country authorities would be of interest, considering in particular the dependence of the execution of the mandate and timeline of ATMIS on the cooperation of the FGS. On 16 July, Interim Head of ATMIS, Lortan, along with ATMIS Force Commander, met with Somalia’s new Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre for fostering close relationship. During PSC’s field visit on 19-22 July, Prime Minister Barre, expressed commitment for ‘closer collaboration and effective coordination with ATMIS and the AU PSC.’

In the light of President Mohamud’s priorities particularly that of national reconciliation, a key process of the constitution of the new government being followed with interest is the composition of the new cabinet, as hinted in Guterres’s statement mentioned above. On 25 June, the Parliament approved Hamza Abdi Barre as new Prime Minster. Although he had a 30 days period until 25 July to announce cabinet, Prime Minister Barre requested for extension and Parliament gave him 10 more days to form the government.

On the security front, Al Shabaab has continued wreaking havoc even after the reconfiguration of AMISOM into ATMIS. In his 13 May report on the situation in Somalia, covering the period between 1 February and 6 May, Guterres noted an increase in Al Shabaab attacks where 236 security incidents were recorded, most of which were attributed to the terrorist group. Apart from its infiltration in and attack on the ATMIS base camp in Mogadishu in late March, it orchestrated one of the deadliest attacks on AU Mission targeting the ATMIS base in Middle Shabele region that killed several forces of the Burundian contingent. Highlighting the terror group’s regional ambition and willingness to exploit real or perceived fragilities, on 21 July, the group crossed into the Somali region of Ethiopia and suffered loss after several days of fighting. On 21 July, during the interaction between PSC members and Prime Minister Barre as part of the field mission, the later expressed the determination of the government to ‘launch a forceful and comprehensive fight to counter Al-Shabaab, ISIS and other terrorist organizations through military and non-military means.’

On the implementation of ATMIS mandate, tomorrow’s session may focus on three issues. The first is how reconfiguration of ATMIS is unfolding as key component of Phase I of ATMIS mandate, critical to creating the offensive and agile posture of the mission. Efforts are underway to generate mobile forces to conduct targeted offensive against Al Shabaab and to increase engagement with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to enhance their Counter-IED capabilities. As part of the reconfiguration, ATMIS has started rolling out various joint operations with the SSF against Al Shabaab and other armed groups. Yet despite the plan as part of Phase I of the CONOPs, to handover or collapse two to three FOBs per sector (total of 12 to 18 FOBs), only two FOBs (20% of the plan) have been collapsed so far. The FGS has as yet to formulate plan on how to proceed with the taking over or collapsing of FOBs. Of interest to the Council is also progress made in strengthening the command-and-control structure of the mission.

The other is the capacity of the SSF to gradually assume full responsibility based on the force generation benchmarks as envisaged in the ATMIS CONOPs. Accordingly, when ATMIS drawdowns 2000 troops at the end of phase I by December 2022, the FGS is expected to generate 3,850 security forces (more details in Amani Africa’s Monthly digest for March). As the Deputy SRSC observed in a recent interview with a newspaper, ‘despite over a decade of training, we still haven’t reached a point where we have sufficient Somali forces to be able to take control’. She further stated that the mission ‘can only succeed if the government is a viable partner. … This has been the missing link.’ Prime Minister Barre assured the PSC during its field visit that this will change, expressing the full commitment of the government of Somalia to developing the capacity of its security institutions to take over completely security responsibilities from ATMIS by December 2024.

The third key issue is about the financial and logistical support provided to ATMIS as well as the SSF. The PSC highlighted the necessity of predictable, adequate, and sustainable financing for ATMIS at its 1075th session that took place on 12 April. Although the funding shortfall of ATMIS has come down, the mission has a deficit of 70 million USD, which is one of the issues to be discussed in the session, including with partners, such as the UK, expected to propose.  In a recent ATMIS-UN Support Office to Somalia (UNSOS) meeting, ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya emphasized that ‘to maintain a military advantage over Al-Shabaab, … the mission requires efficient acquisition, supply, and delivery of critical material during combat operations.’ The PSC at its 1068th session requested the UN to realign UN Logistics Support with the new CONOPs. During the deliberation between ATMIS and UNSOS that took place earlier this month to align the logistical support the mission receives in line with the new CONOPs, the Head of UNSOS, Assistant Secretary General Lisa Filipetto, indicated that ‘plans are underway to decentralize logistics to the ATMIS sectors to facilitate quick response and provide better support for troop mobile operations.’ How this would be followed up and the pace of such follow up would be of interest to PSC members.

The other issue deserving PSC’s attention is the grim humanitarian situation in Somalia, marked by one of the worst droughts in the country in at least four decades. The four consecutive failed rainy seasons, food price spikes, and underfunded humanitarian response has left 7.1 million Somalis, close to 50 % of the population, facing crisis-level food insecurity or worse, according to a statement issued by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia on 7 June. Humanitarian agencies have already raised the alarm over the risk of famine. Despite the ‘dire and grim’ situation, the funding for this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia remains low at 15.7 % as of 20 May. The recent uptick of violence by Al Shabaab remains the other major impediment to address the situation.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The PSC may welcome the successful conclusion of the elections in Somalia and the peaceful transfer of power to newly elected President Mohamud. Also welcoming the priorities that the new President announced during his inauguration, the PSC may urge the government to focus on mobilizing its efforts in delivering on these priorities and avail AU’s full support in this respect. Council is expected to condemn Al Shabaab’s increased deadly attacks, including its recent attacks inside the Somali region of Ethiopia, and to underscore the need for a more robust collective effort at addressing the threat posed by the terror group. Considering the scale of the humanitarian crisis, created by the drought affecting Somalia, the PSC may call on the AU, working with IGAD, to initiate measures for supporting Somalia, while appealing to international partners to redouble the humanitarian assistance to avoid famine in the country. Regarding ATMIS, Council may welcome the commitment of FGS to closely work with ATMIS and UNSOS’s plan to align the logistical support that the mission receives in line with the CONOPs, and the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2632 that extended the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 31 October. Echoing its 1075th session, Council may emphasize the imperative of predictable funding and logistical support attuned to force mobility for the success of ATMIS, and may call on the partners to help address the funding deficit including through UN assessed contributions. In relation to strengthening the capacity of Somalia security forces, Council may reiterate its call on the FGS to ‘meet its commitments towards achieving the benchmarks and timelines’ as outlined in the CONOPs by capacitating SSF and strengthening local security & law and order institutions.



Date | July 2022

In July, Djibouti chaired the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). During the month, the PSC convened three sessions. All the sessions were dedicated to country/ region specific issues. Two sessions were held at ambassadorial level. There was one session at ministerial level. The outcome for all the three sessions were adopted as Communiqué. On average, it took about one week for the outcome documents of the sessions to be published.

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