Somalia: US military says Al-Shabaab gets ‘bigger, stronger and bolder’


NAIROBI (Somaliguardian) – Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab in Somalia has gotten “biger, stronger and bolder” since American troops were pulled out of the country following an order by then-US President Donald Trump in late 2020, the commander of US Africa Command Stephen Townsend said on Wednesday.

He said insurgents capitalized on the power struggles between the Horn of Africa country’s leaders and a political dysfunction that distracted authorities from the fight against Al-Shabaab, who has been able to carry out attacks in the Horn of Africa region and overrun bases housing African Union peacekeepers.

In the last 16 months, since we concluded the repoistioning out of Somalia, Al-Shabaab has gotten bigger, stronger and bolder,” Towsend told Foreign Policy and another traveling reporter in an interview at Africom’s headquarters at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. “And we have seen them in recent months conduct attacks that they have not had the capacity to do in the last three years that I’ve been here.”

Early in May, Al-Shabaab attacked a base housing African Union troops in the town of El baraf in the Middle Shabelle region, some 160km north of the capital Mogadishu. It claimed killing 173 soldiers and released photos showing dead bodies of Burundian troops and military vehicles it had seized. read more

Speaking on the inability of Somali government forces to fight Al-Shabaab, US military’s top general for Africa said “they haven’t moved forward” and “they need partnership to move forward”.

Last week, Towsend arrived in Mogadishu last week and met with new Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to congratulate him on election win, days after the President of the United States Joe Biden signed an order authorizing the deployment of about 500 American special forces back to the Horn of Africa nation. read more

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