NAIROBI, Kenya – Somalis fear the US decision to withdraw troops from their country will see them for years as a victory for the terrorists who have wreaked havoc there, and especially to Somalia. Sow the field at the delicate moment and the possibility of chaos.
Somali presidential elections have been scheduled in just two months, with war going on in neighboring Ethiopia, and Shabab militants still strong despite US-led raids and drone strikes.
At the time of Friday’s Pentagon announcement, some Somalis say, is terrible.
Ayub Ismail Yusuf, a Somali senator, said, “The fight against global terrorism is still going on and we should win the fight for peace and security.” “We should not give up our successes.”
At Mogadishu University, Abdullahi, a 23-year-old political science student, said he feared Shabab would now be able to “strike without any fear” in the capital.
“Now their leaders can easily move from one place to another with little threat,” he said. He lives near the burnt remains of the ice cream parlor Shabab bombed by suicide bomber On 27 November, an attack in which seven people died.
The Pentagon says it will “counteract” a possible 700 US troops in Somalia in other parts of East Africa – “Kenya” and “Djibouti”, conducting raids against Shabab of northern Somalia and a small group of Islamic State fighters Will stay Bases in neighboring countries.
Drone attack, which killed several senior and Middlewell Shabab commanders as well Dozens of citizens, will continue.
Somalia’s President Mohammad Abdullahi Mohammed did not immediately react to the US decision, announcing late Friday night as part of President Trump’s campaign what he called America’s endless wars before he stepped down on January 20. What is feared a comeback, which is expected in mid-January, is merging completely yet is unclear.
However, it seems that Danab will have to bear the brunt of the change, An elite Somali force After its formation in 2013, the US Army took over. Since then, American troops have trained and armed Somali commandos, which have grown to nearly 1,000, and often accompany them on raids against Shabab.
Now, Danab will be largely on his own.
Colonel Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh, who took charge of Danab between 2016 and 2019, said he hoped the United States would continue funding and increase the strength of the elite. But the crucial American “advice-and-aid” role – a plan to raid Americans who helped Somali officials, and accompany them in firefights – would not be easily replaced, he said.
“You can start operations from countries like Djibouti and Kenya, but it is not the same as being in the country,” Colonel Sheikh said. “You cannot train a force remotely.”
Even after years of US support, Somalia is only partially able to blunt Shabab’s power.
The group controls the swaths of southern Somalia, where its fighters ambush and attack Somalia’s soldiers and African Union peacekeepers. A recent US government report Noted It is that Shabab was involved in 440 violent incidents in Somalia between July and September – the highest number in two years.
US and Somali pressure has been successful in carrying out sophisticated, large-scale attacks in Mogadishu, but Somalia analyst for the International Crisis Group, Omar Mahmood, a conflict research organization said.
Somalis should have stood on their feet in the coming year. In 2017, Somali security forces were called upon to operate independently by 2021 as part of an international plan. It will not be.
The main anti-terrorist force, the Denb, still relies heavily on US support and has only reached about one-third of its planned size.
Mr Mahmood said the US withdrawal “could have a huge impact”. “The role of American consultant is invaluable to Danab. This gives rise to concerns that it may continue to develop. “
Danab is not the main pillar of Somali security. The government relies on a strong force of 19,000 peacekeepers of the African Union – although, due to the uncertainty caused by the elimination of civil strife in Ethiopia, there is a contribution of about 4,000 soldiers.
American pulls from Somalia may be unavoidable. President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has also committed to withdrawing American troops from “forever wars” – the post-2001 open anti-terrorism mission.
But experts in Somalia warned that Mr. Trump’s decision to pull the plug now, as Somalia faces parliamentary elections this month and a presidential election in February, was a recipe for chaos and maximum damage.
“This is typical of the Trump administration’s inconsistent policy toward Somalia,” said Matt Bryden, a strategic adviser at Sahan Research, a group that specializes in the Horn of Africa. “This is an unforgivable decision at a time when governments are likely to change in both Somalia and the US. It would make more sense to wait a few months.”
The Pentagon assured that the US would continue to kill Shabu from targets outside the country, adding, “Look like a brave attempt to apply lipstick to a pig.”
However, other experts said that this is not a good time to leave a fragile country like Somalia.
A former adviser to the National Security Council in Obama and the Trump administration and now Chief of Staff for the International Crisis, Brittany Brown said, “If US relations with Somalia are not primarily about a few hundred soldiers, that’s a good thing.” is.” group. “But like everything else with Trump, it’s executed very poorly.
Somalia’s turmoil will not be resolved by drone strikes or military raids, she said. “It will not stop until Somalia has a government that can provide services to its people. Until then, Al Shabaab will remain a threat. “
The presidential election faces some uncertainty. Currently, Mr Mohammed has been in loggerheads with regional leaders in Somalia, and the opposition fears he may try to manipulate the vote.
Without US troops, Somalis can still rely on other foreign allies such as Qatar, which provides cash and humanitarian aid, and Turkey, which aims to train around 10,000 regular soldiers.
But for the Denb force, the US withdrawal would constitute a “wake-up call”, its former commander, Colonel Sheikh, said. “They feel that they can’t rely on outside help any more.”
This could leave more force for political intervention, not to mention the corruption that has frightened other Somali security units. And America’s departure could shock morale, raising questions about America’s commitment to their fight.
Colonel Sheikh said, “A little trust will be lost.” “And it will be really hard to get it back.”
Hussain Mohammed contributed reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia.