Investigative Reports

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Any Change Prematurely in the Arms Embargo Policy on Somalia Poses Great Risk

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This report of Hiraal Institute presents an in-depth examination of the potential consequences of lifting the arms embargo in Somalia.

With a focus on both the national and international implications, Institute’s findings suggest caution and a nuanced approach towards this crucial policy decision

Somalia’s complex societal structure, characterized by deep-seated clan loyalties, presents a significant challenge.

The Somali National Army (SNA), essentially comprised of clan militias, raises concerns that lifting the embargo could fuel inter-clan conflicts, especially as the government has promoted clan militias since August 2023.

Such an action could potentially ignite a volatile arms race among the clans, escalating violence, and instability.


The fact that the Somali government does not fully control all its ports of entry further complicates the situation.

Without comprehensive oversight of these crucial trade nodes, the risk of arms being diverted to non-state actors, criminal syndicates, or potential adversaries is heightened.

This underlines the need for effective management of borders before any changes in the arms embargo policy.

Open arms markets in Somalia pose another significant risk. The existence of these markets and their ease of access could potentially be exacerbated by the lifting of the arms embargo, leading to a rise in violence and instability.

Furthermore, it raises concerns about the effective control and tracing of arms flow within the country.
A worrying trend of weapons meant for the SNA appearing in open markets underscores the challenges of control and accountability.

Without robust mechanisms to secure and monitor weapons, the premature lifting of the arms embargo could lead to increased arms proliferation.

Furthermore, the potential implications of unchecked arms flows are not confined to Somalia. Lessons from history show how they can fuel conflicts, destabilize regions, and pose significant threats to international security. This global perspective must be factored into any decision regarding the future of the arms embargo.

Hiraal Institute analysis emphasizes the need for a nuanced and cautious approach towards the arms embargo issue.

Strengthening Somalia’s capacity in arms control, securing ports of entry, and promoting effective governance must be prioritized before any significant changes to the current policy.

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