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Biden sends hundreds of US troops to Somalia, overthrowing Trump




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President Biden has approved the deployment of hundreds of special operations troops to Somalia, officials said on Monday, reversing his predecessors’ decision to withdraw US forces from the violence-hit country, a decision that has complicated efforts to fight back. against a regional terrorist group.

The Bidens directive was made in response to a Defense Department request to reestablish a base of operations in Somalia, which the administration calls a small, persistent U.S. military presence. The size of this force will be less than 500, down from the roughly 750 people who operated there before President Donald Trump ordered their withdrawal in January 2021.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with ground rules established by the White House, said the deployment would draw on forces already in the region. Their main target will be al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda considered to be the deadliest and best-funded operation of the terrorist networks.

Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of US Africa Command, warned lawmakers earlier this year that the US withdrawal from Somalia had hampered the military’s ability to suppress the threat there, saying that undertaking so-called over-the-horizon strikes launched from a permanent base in Somalia neighboring Djibouti felt like a commute.

Bidens’ decision to resume deployments was first reported Monday by The New York Times.

US less effective in countering terror threats in Somalia and Afghanistan since troop withdrawal, generals warn

Our forces are not currently and will not be directly engaged in combat operations, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. The aim here is to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabab by local forces. The pattern of stepping in to carry out limited operations, he added, was ineffective and increasingly unsustainable.

The lack of a permanent U.S. military presence in Somalia has allowed al-Shabab to grow in strength and accelerate the pace of its attacks, including against U.S. personnel, the senior administration official said, noting that the dismissal of American troops rationalizes what was essentially an irrational arrangement. we inherited.

Al-Shabab attacks rose 17% in 2021 from a year earlier, according to a January analysis by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington. This year, they are expected to increase by 71% if the current rate of violence continues. A similar increase in deaths is expected if nothing changes, the researchers estimate a level of deaths resulting from al-Shabab aggression that Somalia has not suffered since 2017.

Somali lawmakers elect president elected 5 years ago

The announcement of the deployment comes a day after Somalia’s legislature elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president, returning him to power after a five-year hiatus. During this period, al-Shabab is said to have made territorial gains against African Union peacekeepers, one of the entities that US military personnel will be tasked with supporting.

A decade ago, al-Shabab militants appeared ready to take over the Somali capital, Mogadishu, before African Union forces intervened and the United States stepped up airstrikes . The group has since pushed to conquer the East African nation and enact a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Fighters have staged thousands of attacks in Somalia and neighboring Kenya, including the 2013 raid on a Nairobi shopping mall that killed 67 and the 2017 bombings in Mogadishu that killed more than 500.

Trump orders the departure of the majority of the 700 American soldiers in Somalia

US defense officials say the group is one of al-Qaeda’s biggest moneymakers, extracting funds from businesses and civilians trapped in its sphere of influence. The extremists have made the famine worse by cutting off aid groups for those suffering from hunger and have declared war on anyone cooperating with the West.

In early 2020, al-Shabab attacked a military base used by US forces in Kenya, killing three US personnel. An official review released earlier this year determined that insufficient focus on potential threats, complacent leadership and poor oversight all contributed to the deadly event.

The last known US military casualty in Somalia occurred in 2017, when a Navy SEAL was killed in a raid alongside Somali partner forces. At least two other Americans were injured in the incident.

In Mogadishu, civil society leaders said they were optimistic about the return of US forces, although some warned that military personnel alone would not solve the security crisis.

Osman Moallim, president of Somali Non-State Actors, which focuses on peacebuilding, warned that the Somali government should restore public trust and pour resources into neglected communities.

We hope US support will help Somalia maintain security, he said, but the military is not the only solution.

Paquette reported from Dakar, Senegal.




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