Donald Trump’s decision to tug US troops out of Somalia within the waning days of his presidency has triggered dismay from some Somalis, who appealed to the incoming President Joe Biden to reverse the choice.
The Somali government has not yet made any comments on Friday’s decision.
“The US decision to tug troops out of Somalia at this critical stage within the successful fight against al-Shabab and their global terrorist network is extremely regrettable,” Senator Ayub Ismail Yusuf told Reuters press agency during a statement, pertaining to the al-Qaeda-linked group.
“US troops have made a huge contribution and had great impact on the training and operational effectiveness of Somali soldiers,” added Yusuf.
He tagged Biden during a tweet criticising the choice.
Somalia’s fragile internationally backed government is because of hold parliamentary elections this month and national elections in early February.
US troops have mostly been supporting Somali Special Forces mentioned as Danab in operations against al-Shabab, whose attacks in nations like Kenya and Uganda have killed many civilians, including Americans.
If the withdrawal is permanent, “it will have an enormous toll on counterterrorism efforts,” consistent with Colonel Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh, who served because the Danab commander for 3 years until 2019.
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The US programme to expand Danab to 3,000 men was alleged to continue until 2027, Sheikh said, but its future is now unclear.
William Lawrence, from the American University in Washington, DC, said Trump’s move would hurt American interests in eastern Africa.
“The blow from the US operations standpoint is that over time, it’ll lose its ability to Americanise on rock bottom and to possess more interaction with Somali troops,” he said.
“It may be a real blow to Somalia. there’s no good military or strategic reason for this move. The reaction from Pentagon seems to be very negative.”
The US withdrawal comes at a turbulent time within the region. Somalia has been riven by war since 1991, but the entry of the peacekeeping force in 2008 helped incubate fledgling government structures that allowed for gradual reforms of the military, like a biometric system to pay soldiers and therefore the formation of Danab.
But many problems with the Somali military remain, including corruption and political interference.
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