“The President of the United States has ordered the Department of Defense and the United States Africa Command to reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021,” the Pentagon said on Friday, after the Wall Street Journal broke the news.
NEWS: President Trump ordered the Pentagon to pull nearly all U.S. troops out of Somalia, two U.S. officials said. https://t.co/vbFNbLxhGG
— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) December 4, 2020
It is unclear how many troops will come home, and how many will move to nearby Kenya and Djibouti and continue to venture into Somalia as part of the struggle against the terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
“The forces re-positioning from Somalia are moving to partner countries elsewhere in the region to accomplish their missions,” a spokesman for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) told Fox News’ Pentagon correspondent. “The US military is not withdrawing from East Africa.”
"The forces re-positioning from Somalia are moving to partner countries elsewhere in the region to accomplish their missions," U.S. Africa Command spokesman says. "The U.S. military is not withdrawing from East Africa."
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) December 4, 2020
US troops have operated in Somalia for the past 13 years as part of the war on terrorism, seeking to prop up the government in Mogadishu against the al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab and later groups that pledged fealty to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
The not-quite-withdrawal from Somalia appears to be part of the broader push by Trump to end the ‘endless’ US wars in the Middle East. After Democrat Joe Biden was declared by the media as winner of the November 3 election – which Trump is challenging in courts – the senior US envoy for the anti-IS coalition admitted to misleading the president about the number of troops in Syria.
Within weeks of the election, Trump sacked Defense Secretary Mark Esper and several senior officials, replacing him with acting secretary Chris Miller and a team of aides from the National Security Council who shared his policy vision. Esper had reportedly opposed a pullout from Somalia, suggesting a drawdown of US presence from sub-Saharan Africa instead.
Somalia collapsed into civil war in 1991, as clans that overthrew the military government of General Mohamed Siad Barre fell out among each other. The initial US intervention aiming to protect UN peacekeepers delivering humanitarian aid to civilians resulted in a clash with one of the warring factions and the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993. The US left Somalia in March 1995, only to return a decade later as part of the ‘war on terror.’
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