11 February 2013

Somalia: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Somalia

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Washington, DC — Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

QUESTION: We have a story out of the UN saying that the UN Security Council's sanctions monitoring team has concerns that armaments - that weapons that are finding their way to Shabaab are originating in - to al-Shabaab, excuse me - are originating in Yemen and Iran, or at least are going through supply networks, supply chains that include Yemen and Iran. Do you have any comment on that, particularly given the U.S.

Administration's position that the arms embargo - the UN arms embargo on Somalia should be dropped?

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, given Iran's track record both with regard to support for terror and with regard to proliferation, it would obviously not surprise us at all if they were now trying to make common cause with al-Shabaab.

More broadly, with regard to the UN arms embargo on Somalia, Somalia itself, countries in the region, and the African Union have now requested that the Security Council review the structure of the current arms embargo. The United States supports that review. This is not an effort, in our view, to end the arms embargo wholesale. Somalia, countries of the region, the AU, want the way the thing is structured to be reviewed in light of the new realities. For example, for the first time in two decades, we now have a legitimate and representative government there.

But we do need to maintain the embargo on non-state actors, on al-Shabaab, et cetera. So we have to look at a more subtle application, and that's what the process will endeavor to do. And we support the review.

QUESTION: So you, in effect, support allowing arms flows to the Somali authorities while excluding arms flows to al-Shabaab?

MS. NULAND: We support a review to see how it might be done to support strong security, government-led, in Somalia while continuing to keep arms out of the hands of Shabaab or other nefarious actors. There has to be a review as to how that could be done. So that's what we support.

QUESTION: And you don't think that trying to partially lift it may not make it easier for arms to flow more generally?

MS. NULAND: Again, this is the question, this is the concern. That's why it has to be reviewed, why there has to be consultation among us at the UN about how you might do this. And that is just beginning now, so we have to - but we are very conscious of the concern that you raise, Arshad.

QUESTION: Is there any precedent for that, having a partial arms embargo?

MS. NULAND: There is precedent for being able to provide security support for a government at the same time that you work with that government to keep arms out of the hands of designated terrorist organizations.

QUESTION: Right, but that doesn't come in the form of an embargo. That's just --

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the UN has the ability to enact the same kinds of sanctions that we enact nationally against designated entities.

You'll remember the Taliban things and all that kind of thing in the old days.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. NULAND: So it would be along those lines. But again, this is a work in progress and we're just at the beginning stage here.

QUESTION: So in other words, it wouldn't - you would have to, at least the way you're describing it, you would actually have to lift the embargo and then make sure that Shabaab, al-Shabaab, was on this other list.

MS. NULAND: Lift it on the - lift it on the government but maintain it on entities. And again, this is a work in progress. So, please.

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