US Re-Entry Into Somalia Aims At Russia, China

The decision to redeploy to Somalia might appear to be surprising, for two important reasons. First, US President Joe Biden promised during his campaign to avoid the “forever wars” against terror lasting since 2002.

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US Re-Entry Into Somalia Aims At Russia, China

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The United States has announced it will resume a limited military presence in Somalia. The former administration withdrew troops from the country in 2020. The mission of the American soldiers is still what it has been for the last 15 years: to advise and assist Somali forces.

US troops will not be directly involved in the conflict. Their number, 450 to 500, is smaller than the last deployment.

The decision to redeploy to Somalia might appear to be surprising, for two important reasons. First, US President Joe Biden promised during his campaign to avoid the “forever wars” against terror lasting since 2002.

None of these wars were ever fully won and remained unpopular with the US electorate. It is also surprising in the light of moves to restructure the US military to meet a threat from China.

What better explains this decision, however, is the renewed emphasis on the old rivalry with Russia since Russia's Ukrainian intervention.

Announcing the redeployment, the Pentagon claimed it was partly for operational security. After their withdrawal in 2020, American special forces continued to train Somali soldiers outside Somalia, and at times traveled in and out of the country.

The Pentagon said the redeployment would end the ad hoc support by creating bases inside Somalia.

Unofficially, American officials have claimed that the redeployment is due to worsening security conditions in Somalia. This argument is open to question: the security situation is in reality relatively stable.

What is without a doubt is that the deployment will have a direct influence on US-Russian rivalries in the region.

Military situation in Somalia

Somalia’s security landscape has not changed much since the US pullout over the previous year. The frontlines between the al-Qaeda affiliated Harakat al-Shabaab, the Somali government, and the Forces of the African Union in Somalia have remained largely the same during the American absence.

So has the rate of terror attacks. Al-Shabaab has not expanded its territories, although it does exercise control in areas supposedly under government control.

Several researchers have reported that al-Shabaab is booming economically and is able to infiltrate the Somali security services. But this was also the case before the American withdrawal from Somalia.

What has changed is the international setting. Over the past few years, China-US rivalry has intensified. And over the past year, US-Russia rivalry has exploded, partly influenced by the outbreak of the Ukraine war.

These rivalries have large-scale impacts on the Horn of Africa.

It is notable that the American redeployment announcement came days after the electoral defeat of Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (“Farmaajo”). The former Somali president was a close ally of Russia’s new friends in the Horn of Africa – Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

The newly-elected Somali president is much cooler towards Ethiopia and Eritrea. He has also pointedly welcomed the US redeployment.

Source:/Asia Times
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News 1 July 2022 19:42

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