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4 Dec, 2020 21:54

US ‘repositioning’ 700+ troops from Somalia on Trump’s orders, Pentagon confirms

US ‘repositioning’ 700+ troops from Somalia on Trump’s orders, Pentagon confirms

On orders from President Donald Trump, most of the 700 or so US troops currently in Somalia will either withdraw entirely or be moved to nearby countries by early 2021, the US defense department has confirmed in a statement.

“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.

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 repositioning 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.”

US forces have already relocated from their positions in the cities of Bossaso and Galkayo this year, Reuters reported citing Pentagon sources. As of last month, Americans were still present in the port city of Kismayo, the airbase at Baledogle, and in the capital Mogadishu.

American 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 loyalty to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

The move from Somalia appears to be part of a broader push by Trump to curb America's 'endless' wars. After Democrat Joe Biden was declared by the media as the 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.

Also on rt.com 'All wars MUST END': Trump's new acting defense secretary signals withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan

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.

The pullout from Somalia should be finalized by January 15, the same deadline given for withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon officials.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia said in October that US military support had enabled Mogadishu to "effectively combat Al-Shabab and secure the Horn of Africa," adding that a victory can only be achieved "through continuous security partnership."

Somalia collapsed into civil war in 1991, as clans that overthrew the military government of General Mohamed Siad Barre fell out with 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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