WASHINGTON – President Trump, continuing the final withdrawal of troops from conflicts around the world, is withdrawing from American troops in Somalia, where they have been involved in stifling progress made by Islamist insurgents in the Horn of Africa.
The Pentagon announced Friday that virtually all of the approximately 700 soldiers in Somalia – most of the special operations teams that have conducted training and counter-terrorism missions – will be leaving by Jan. 15, five days before Joseph R. Biden Jr. Elected President leaves. they are inaugurated as planned.
Most of the troops will be “relocated” to nearby Kenya, a Defense Ministry official said Friday. It was not immediately clear that other parts of the US presence in Somalia, such as CIA officers, the ambassador and other foreign ministry diplomats in a heavily fortified bunker in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, would also withdraw from Somalia along with the military.
The withdrawal from Somalia followed Trump’s instructions to reduce the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and reflects the president’s long-standing desire to end a long-term military engagement against Islamist insurgencies in failed and fragile countries in Africa and the Middle East, a guarding mission. which has spread since the attacks of 11 September 2001.
The Pentagon has promised to continue efforts to protect U.S. interests.
“The United States will not withdraw or secede from Africa,” he said in a statement. “We remain committed to our African partners and will continue to support the whole government approach.”
The United States will retain its ability to conduct counter-terrorism operations in Somalia, particularly in the wake of the drone strikes, and may collect early warnings and indicators of threats to the United States and its allies posed by the country’s armed forces.
The mission in Somalia has come to the forefront in recent days after it was reported that a CIA veteran officer had been killed in fighting in Somalia, according to current and former U.S. officials. Death has already revived the debate over U.S. counter-terrorism operations by American intelligence. The officer was a member of the CIA paramilitary division, the Special Activities Center, and the Navy’s elite SEAL 6th team.
The withdrawal of Somali troops comes just two weeks after Mr Trump ordered the military to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, halving the number to just over 2,000. Reducing the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is also underway.
Also this week, a Pentagon political official overseeing military efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was fired after a White House appointee told him that the United States had won the war and its office was dissolved. The official, Christopher P. Maier, head of the ISIS task force on defeating the Pentagon, has occurred since March 2017, just three weeks after Mr. Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and three other Pentagon officials and replaced them with loyalists.
Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller, who has been cleaning up Trump at the Pentagon since taking over from Mr. Esper last month, described the steps as reflecting the success of efforts to crush the U.S.-led terrorist state. the Islamic State was established in much of Iraq and Syria.
Ministry of Defense officials familiar with internal deliberations say the withdrawal from Somalia does not apply to U.S. forces stationed in nearby Kenya and Djibouti, where U.S. drones carrying out air strikes are located in Somalia.
Retaining these air bases would mean preserving the military’s ability to use drones to attack Shabab, a militant group linked to Qaeda — at least those who have been threatened by American interests.
Getting out of foreign conflicts has been at the heart of Trump’s “America First” agenda since taking office in 2016. This call particularly intensified his populist electorate, many of whom were veterans who were tired of their role in long-running wars. . The President believes that his achievements on this issue are important for any political future.
Most U.S. troops in Somalia, a war-torn country in the Horn of Africa, are made up of special operations forces deployed on few bases across the country. Their missions include training and advising the Somali army and counter-terrorism forces, and conducting their own raids to kill or capture Shabab militants.
The Pentagon has long argued that the United States can safely leave areas disputed by militants when local governments can protect their own territory. Mr Trump’s order means that direct training efforts with Somali security forces would cease.
Mr Trump is forced to leave Somalia before the end of his term, arriving at a delicate time: Somalia is preparing for next month’s parliamentary elections and the presidential election scheduled for early February. Removing U.S. troops could make it harder to keep election rallies and voting safe from Shabab bombers. There is also political turmoil in neighboring Ethiopia, whose army has also fought with Sababa.
Somalia has been facing civil war, drought and violence from Islamist extremists for years. The United States intervened in the country as a peacekeeper, but left shortly after the 1993 battle of “Black Hawk Down,” which killed 18 Americans and hundreds of militia fighters.
Shabab, an Islamist terrorist group called “young people”, appeared around 2007 and fought violently to control Somalia with occasional attacks outside its borders, including an attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013. more than five dozen civilian and fatal attacks on a U.S. air base in January in Manda Bay, Kenya.
In 2012, Shabab leaders pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda. In 2016, shortly before he left office, the Obama administration saw them as part of a war authorized by Congress on the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Under Trump rule, the military sharply intensified air strikes targeting Shabab militants.