WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has authorized the redeployment of up to 500 U.S. troops to Somalia, U.S. officials said Monday. Former President Donald Trump had ordered their withdrawal during his presidency.
By the time the withdrawal order was issued, the United States had about 700 troops in Somalia helping local forces defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency.
“President Biden has approved a request from the Secretary of Defense to re-establish a continued US military presence in Somalia, to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab.”said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“This is a repositioning of forces already in the area that have traveled in and out of Somalia as needed, since the previous administration decided to withdraw them.” added the official.
The new presence will include less than 500 U.S. forces, another U.S. official said.
The official said that the US policy that began under former President Trump, for the rotation of forces inside and outside the country, had created “risks in the defense of forces” and that President Biden “took the decision to increase the security and effectiveness of our forces. special”.
The Al Shabaab group seeks to overthrow the government and establish its rule in Somalia, based on the strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.
The insurgent group frequently carries out bomb attacks in Mogadishu and beyond as part of its fight against the central government.
Somalia has experienced clan conflicts and battles without a strong central government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The government has little control over the capital and the African Union contingent maintains a “Green Zone” modeled on Iraq.
Although the United States has had no military forces in Somalia since former President Trump ordered their withdrawal in December 2020, the military has occasionally carried out attacks in the country and has had forces present in neighboring countries.