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Somalia urges UN to lift arms embargo

PTI United Nations | Updated on February 15, 2013

Somalia’s Foreign Minister has urged the UN Security Council to lift the 20-year-old arms embargo on the country so that its armed forces can fight off al-Qaeda linked militants and consolidate peace.

The Foreign Minister addressed the council yesterday amid allegations that Iran and Yemen have supplied weapons to the Somali militant group al-Shabab. Iran rejected those allegations as an “absurd fabrication.”

A report by a UN-appointed committee monitoring sanctions against Somalia and Eritrea report links Iran and Yemen to the supply of weapons to al-Shabab, according to a UN diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee, in a letter to the Security Council obtained yesterday by The Associated Press, said the allegations were part of a “malicious campaign.” He said the monitoring group put forward “unfounded allegations and strange fabrications” without first informing the Iranian government and said the contents were leaked “for propaganda purposes.” He urged the monitoring group to “address this unfair move and remedy the issue.”

Urging the Security Council to lift the arms embargo, Somalia’s Foreign Minister Fawzia Y H Adam, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, told members that the government will institute measures “to ensure that armaments do not fall into the wrong hands.”

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun reported to the council earlier yesterday on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s suggestion last week for “a calibrated approach” to the relaxation of the arms embargo.

It would take into account key factors including “the pressing need to support the development of Somali forces while avoiding the proliferation of uncontrolled weapons that could exacerbate the security situation,” Zerihoun said.

Somalia is trying to establish its first functional government after two decades of chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew long-time Dictator Siad Barre and then turned on one another. Al-Shabab rebels have been pushed out of the cities of southern and central Somalia by African Union forces, but they are not yet defeated.

Published on February 15, 2013

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