Somalia: Trump orders withdrawal of US troops

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US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of almost all US troops from Somalia by January 15.

The US currently has around 700 troops in the country assisting local forces in missions against militant groups al-Shabaab and the Islamic State. The order comes weeks before Trump leaves office and reverses the policy of for defence secretary Mark Esper who was sacked last month and advocated US military presence in Somalia.

Trump orders withdrawal of US troops

President Trump has long-apposed the US’ military involvement in Somalia and other locations, calling its presence expensive and ineffective. He has issued similar orders to reduce the presence of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq before his time in office ends.

Officials say some of the troops in Somalia will be moved to neighbouring countries to help with cross-border operations.

Trump isn’t alone in questioning the effectiveness of US military involvement in Somalia although many argue the Horn of Africa nation isn’t equipped to lead the fight against al-Shabaab and other militant groups.

Somalia has suffered decades of political instability and violence with al-Shabaab seizing the capital Mogadishu and much of the country before international intervention helped pushed the militant group out of major cities. However, even with the help of US and African Union forces, al-Shabaab has grown in strength in recent years and Somalia has only succeeded in neutralising the group.

Deadly attacks in the capital and other parts of the country are still common and several deadly attacks have rocked neighbouring countries in recent years – most notably in Kenya.

Concerns remain that the withdrawal of US troops will give al-Shabaab the advantage and aid the spread of fundamentalism beyond Somalia’s borders.

Featured image: “AMISOM & Somali National Army operation to capture Afgoye Corridor Day #5 04” flickr photo by AMISOM Public Information https://flickr.com/photos/au_unistphotostream/7325743256 shared into the public domain using (CC0)

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.