Somalia hails redeployment of US special forces as timely decision

Somalia

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – An official with the team of the newly-elected President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and former commander of an elite Somali force welcomed the decision by US President Joe Biden to redeploy hundreds of troops back to Somalia.

The move “coincides with the swearing-in of the newly elected president who would be planning his offensive on Al-Shabaab,” a member of president-elect Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s team told the New York Times.

In an interview with VOA Somali, former commander of US-trained Danab Somali special forces Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh said the approval by President Joe Biden to deploy American troops back to Somalia was a timely decision, and could help Somali and African Union peacekeepers defend their bases.

Limited presence of US troops in Somalia and air strikes have emboldened Al-Shabaab to increase its attacks, he said, adding that the group has recently committed “massacre” in an attack on Burundian peacekeepers stationed outside the town of El baraf, some 160 km north of Mogadishu. Militants used military vehicles in the raid, he added. Al-Shabaab said it had killed 173 Burundian soldiers in the attack, the deadliest since El Adde in which nearly 200 Kenyan troops were killed in 2016.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that US President Joe Biden had signed an order authorizing the deployment of 450 troops back to Somalia, reversing a decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw nearly all 700 ground troops who had been stationed in the war-torn nation.

According to the paper, some analysts including Sarah Harrison, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, have criticized the move, saying the United States had been using military force to defeat Al-Shabaab for 15 years and it had not worked.

Sending in more US troops and honing in on a small number of senior Al-Shabaab leadership is narrow in its aims and by definition cannot end the broader military fight absent more concerted and effective diplomatic and political efforts by the United States,” she said.

US government says the redeployment of troops to Somalia is meant to curb Al-Shabaab’s growing threat. On January 5 2020, the group attacked a US drone base in Kenya’s Lamu County despite presence of handreds of American troops in Somalia and peak in air strikes targeting the strongholds of insurgents. It claimed killing a number of US military personnel and displayed images of more than 5 aircraft destroyed in the raid. AFRICOM later said the militant group had “achieved a degree of success in its attack”.

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