Some 500 Somalis have graduated from a British Security Training Centre located in southern Somalia Baidoa, Forces Network reported yesterday.
British forces have been providing training to the Somali National Army (SNA) since January 2017, focusing on delivering medical, leadership development, logistics and human rights training.
“The training we have provided will help build a more stable and prosperous Somalia,” Mark Lancaster, British armed forces minister, said.
“The Somalian National Army have been motivated, keen to learn and professional and we remain committed to their country’s development.”
According to the United Kingdom, the long term aim of the programme is for commanding officers of the SNA to become “self-sufficient” in training their own troops.
The British government has deployed a special regiment of 85 military personnel to train and work with the African Union Mission in Somalia. British Prime Minister Theresa May today confirmed support for the African Union Mission in Somalia, announcing a new funding package to combat Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab seeks to dislodge the Somali government and implement a strict version of Islamic law across the country. In 2012, the group pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, which attracted counterterrorism use of force.
Two British nationals who had their citizenship revoked, Bilal Al-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr, were killed in separate American strikes in Somalia in 2012. It is unclear if the UK government provided any location intelligence to the US, as Al-Berjawi was killed after making a phone call to his wife in London to congratulate her on the birth of their first son. The cases, along with the UK’s drone policy in Somalia are shrouded in secrecy without a clear framework on targeting beyond war zones.
Last year in October, Al-Shabaab launched a suicide bomb attack in the capital Mogadishu killing over 500 people, and leaving many injured.
The uptick in political violence has led the United Nations to delay the withdrawal of African Union Mission troops from Somalia. The UN said the recent attacks in Somalia underscored the “deficiencies” in the capacity of the SNA in dealing with security threats.
Somalia’s ‘corruption’ problem
In early July, 14 Somali security officers were arrested over alleged collusion after a deadly Al-Shabaab attack on the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior in the capital Mogadishu.
The security officers were responsible for guarding the checkpoints, but Al-Shabaab managed to enter the site, detonating two bombs and killing at least 20 people, injuring a dozen. The arrests came after Al-Shabaab fighters were found with security guard uniforms and identity cards, insinuating some cooperation and collusion.
Somalia was ranked amongst the world’s most corrupt, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2017 report. The country suffers from weak public institutions and instability which directly impact basic governance.