Somalia | 27 May 2022

Somalia: Newly elected president welcomes US decision to send in troops again

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According to a report by Reuters on 16 May 2022, US President Biden has “authorized the redeployment of fewer than 500 American troops into Somalia”, after former President Trump had ordered their withdrawal during his presidency. Prior to the withdrawal, the USA had 700 troops in Somalia to help government forces combat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency.

Meanwhile, at least four people were killed and seven injured in a suicide attack near Mogadishu airport on 11 May 2022. The attack, for which al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, was apparently targeting presidential candidates at a checkpoint. It came just days ahead of the presidential vote, and was part of a series of attacks meant to derail the election of a new president. The election was able to be held successfully on 15 May, with voting limited to the 328 members of parliament in a fortified aircraft hangar (BBC News, 15 May 2022).

World Watch Research analyst Yonas Dembele comments: “The redeployment of US troops is expected to bolster counter-terrorism operations in Somalia and to weaken any chances of al-Shabaab becoming a political actor in the country. The decision has been welcomed by the newly elected president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. In the past, the USA has pursued a two-pronged approach in Somalia by providing financial and logistical support to AMISOM and by conducting drone strikes and similar operations against suspected al-Shabaab militants.”

Yonas Dembele continues: “Al-Shabaab continues to carry out bombings and attacks in Mogadishu and in the countryside as it seeks to topple the government and establish its own rule in Somalia based on a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. For the hidden Christian population in the country, if al-Shabaab’s influence is diminished, there is hope that their situation may improve.”


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