Somalia accuses Ethiopia of illegal border incursions

Somalia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abukar Dahir Osman, accused Ethiopia of illegal incursions across their shared border on Monday. 

This incident, involving at least some of the estimated 5,000-7,000 Ethiopian troops stationed in Somalia outside the African Union peacekeeping mission (ATMIS), has forced Somalia to postpone a planned troop withdrawal.

ATMIS, with a current force of around 13,500, is tasked with supporting Somalia’s fight against the militant group al Shabaab. 

While a drawdown is planned, with a smaller force expected to replace ATMIS by year’s end, the recent border incident has caused a delay. 

Somalia had originally planned to reduce ATMIS troops further in July, but this has been pushed back to September.

The incursion involved Ethiopian soldiers entering Somalia’s Hiraan region to monitor al Shabaab activity. 

Local elders reported they withdrew on Sunday, but the incident has strained relations between the two countries. 

This tension follows a separate dispute earlier this year, when Ethiopia agreed to lease a portion of coastline from Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia seeking independence. 

Somalia considers this deal illegal.

Despite the setback, Somalia remains committed to its plan of gradually handing over security responsibilities to its own forces. 

They are confident they can hold the line against al Shabaab with continued international support, hoping the new post-ATMIS force will be limited to around 10,000 troops focused on securing major population centers.

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