As the United States pushes for an end to the UN arms embargo on Somalia, UN monitors are reporting that Islamist militants in the Horn of Africa nation are receiving arms from distribution networks linked to Yemen and Iran, diplomats told Reuters.
The UN Security Council's sanctions monitoring team's concerns about Iranian and Yemeni links to arms supplies for al Shabaab militants come as Yemen is asking Tehran to stop backing armed groups on Yemeni soil. Last month Yemeni coast guards and the US Navy seized a consignment of missiles and rockets the Sanaa government says were sent by Iran.
According to the latest findings by the monitoring group, which tracks compliance with UN sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea, most weapons deliveries are coming into northern Somalia - that is, the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland regions - after which they are moved farther south into Shabaab strongholds.
The supply chains in Yemen are largely Somali networks in that country, council diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
"In Galguduud (central Somalia), Shabaab received arms, including IED (improvised explosive device) components," a Security Council diplomat said, referring to one of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group's most recent confidential reports. Several other council diplomats confirmed his remarks.