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Trump to withdraw most troops from Somalia as part of global pullback


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Trump to withdraw most troops from Somalia as part of global pullback

By Phil Stewart and Steve Holland

 

2020-12-05T024513Z_1_LYNXMPEGB401X_RTROPTP_4_USA-TRUMP-SOMALIA.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Somali police officers tow their car from the scene of a roadside explosion in Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Photo

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump has ordered nearly all American troops to withdraw from Somalia, U.S. officials said on Friday, part of a global pullback by the Republican president before he leaves office next month that will also see him drawdown forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

The United States has about 700 troops in Somalia focused on helping local forces defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency. The mission has received little attention in the United States, but has been considered a cornerstone of the Pentagon's global efforts to combat al Qaeda.

 

In a statement, the Pentagon sought to play down the implications of a withdrawal that experts have said could undermine security in Somalia.

 

"While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in U.S. policy," the Pentagon said.

 

"The U.S. will retain the capability to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations in Somalia, and collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the homeland."

 

The United States already pulled out of Somalia's cities of Bossaso and Galkayo earlier this year. As of last month, U.S. troops were still in the southern port city of Kismayo, Baledogle airbase in the Lower Shabelle region, and in the capital Mogadishu.

 

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said nearly all U.S. forces would leave Somalia, although some would remain in Mogadishu.

 

The Pentagon statement, which was unsigned, said an unspecified number of forces in Somalia would be moved to neighboring countries, allowing them to carry out cross-border operations. Others would be reassigned outside East Africa.

 

A congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the withdrawal comes at a difficult time for Somalia, ahead of both parliamentary and presidential elections, and will present an early dilemma for President-elect Joe Biden.

 

Somalia has been riven by civil war since the early 1990s, but over the past decade an African Union-backed peacekeeping force and U.S. troops have clawed back control of Mogadishu and large swathes of the country from al Shabaab.

 

'CONTINUOUS SECURITY PARTNERSHIP'

 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed had appeared to be lobbying in public against the drawdown, writing on Twitter in October

 

 

"A victory through this journey and for Somali-US partnership can only be achieved through continuous security partnership and capacity building support," he wrote.

 

Another U.S. official said the U.S. presence in Somalia was a point of contention between Trump and his former defense secretary, Mark Esper, who Trump fired last month. According to the official, Trump pushed for a drawdown citing a wish by Kenya "to police their own neighborhood," but Esper resisted.

 

Kenya has backed the Somali government in a number of areas and contributes troops to the African Union-led force.

 

Al Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to establish rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam's sharia law, often carries out gun assaults and bombings on both military and civilian targets and has also attacked regional targets, especially in Kenya.

 

An attack on a U.S. military base in Kenya killed three Americans earlier this year.

 

Many of the U.S. forces in Somalia train and support Danab, the Somali special forces at the core of a mission to kill al Shabaab leaders. Danab, which has around 850 soldiers but had planned to grow to around 3,000, has been Somalia's most effective fighting force.

 

It is the third major withdrawal since Trump installed acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, a former Green Beret and counterterrorism official, to replace Esper at the Pentagon following Trump's election defeat.

 

The U.S. defense official said the withdrawal was ordered to be completed by Jan. 15 -- the same deadlines for drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-12-05
 
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All good IMO. Having small forces in difficult areas probably invites expansion of US forces. It's time Africa took care of its own problems, IMO.

Africa has been identified as a key region for Islamist consolidation, including IS. It makes no sense for US forces to withdraw from the region. trump's announcement will be another political gambit

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Black Hawk Down. 

 

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said nearly all U.S. forces would leave Somalia, although some would remain in Mogadishu.

 

Nearly all will leave but the CIA will stay, reading between the lines. 

 

Edited by onthedarkside
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2 minutes ago, nauseus said:

 

Read: "part of global pullback". This has been the declared intent for some time. Not your imaginary "gambit".

The 'part of global pullback' is a part of Trump's 'political gambit'.

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Just now, stevenl said:

Still a gambit.

 

Same thing but the story says "U.S. officials said on Friday, part of a global pullback by the Republican president before he leaves office next month". But Trump didn't expect to be leaving office next month - this wording suggests it's a sudden move - but it's not. 

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14 minutes ago, nauseus said:

 

Same thing but the story says "U.S. officials said on Friday, part of a global pullback by the Republican president before he leaves office next month". But Trump didn't expect to be leaving office next month - this wording suggests it's a sudden move - but it's not. 

Depends on your reading, I don't think it suggests a sudden move. It is in line with earlier announced plans, as the article states.

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More trump double speak. So nearly all of what? 700 troops if the op can be believed. Not exactly a massive military withdrawal. And gonna pull most troops out of somalia but some will remain in Mogadishu. So some of nearly all will mostly be pulled out of some of somalia?what a ridiculous statement. Huge decision by the soon to be ex commander in chief.

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1 hour ago, nauseus said:

 

This "gambit" has been Trump's declared and open strategy for 4 years. So what?

What pulling less than a 1000 troops out of some but not all of Somalia? 🤣🤣🤣 what a strategy 

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2 hours ago, nauseus said:

 

Read: "part of global pullback". This has been the declared intent for some time. Not your imaginary "gambit".

 

For a start you've ignored the background of a growing Islamist insurgency in many regions of Africa. trump's 'global pullback' relating to areas of Islamist activity, including his never to be forgotten deep insult to the Kurds fighting IS, is pushed back by senior military commanders, regularly trump has done a U-turn on intent due to his obvious tactical incompetence.

 

"Gambit' it is not my imagination, many critics have pointed out trumps actions are motivated by trying to hand a poisoned chalice to Biden, which I suggest, the majority of American voters would view as contrary to his Presidential Oath of Office.

 

A link below to article talking to the dangers of US forces being reduced in Somalia.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/world/africa/somalia-us-troops.html

Edited by simple1
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1 hour ago, stevenl said:

Depends on your reading, I don't think it suggests a sudden move. It is in line with earlier announced plans, as the article states.

That's what I was trying to explain to simple1 in the first place! 

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