US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of most American military personnel from Somalia by early next year. US soldiers in the region have been helping government forces defeat the al-Shabab liberation group.
Nearly 700 US soldiers are currently deployed in Somalia. They conduct training with local forces — including the elite Danab special forces — and assist them in their fight against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militant group in counter-terrorism missions.
There have been concerns that a withdrawal could weaken anti-Shabab forces and severely impact the security situation in the Horn of Africa nation.
However, the Pentagon said the US will “retain the capability to conduct targeted counter-terrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the divided homeland.
The Pentagon statement added that the USA is not “withdrawing” or “disengaging” from Africa and that some forces could be reassigned outside of East Africa.
The rest of the troops will be re-positioned from Somalia into neighboring nations, allowing cross-border operations by both American and partner forces in order to maintain violent pressure against extremist organizations operating in Somalia.
Congressman Jim Langevin, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, denounced Trump’s troop draw down in Somalia, calling it a “surrender to al-Qaida and a gift to China.”
Langevin also questioned the timing of the withdrawal, which comes ahead of elections in Somalia and amid a seething conflict in neighboring Ethiopia.
Deutsche Welle / ABC Flash WW III Point News 2020.