ADDIS ABABA — President Joe Biden signed an order Monday to redeploy hundreds of U.S. troops to Somalia to counter the Islamic extremist rebel group al-Shabab, according to media reports.
Close to 500 U.S. troops will be repositioned from elsewhere in Africa to train and provide other support to Somali forces in their fight against the group affiliated to al-Qaeda, reports the Associated Press.
The troops are not being sent to engage in direct combat, a senior Biden administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP and others news agencies.
Instead, the troops will work with Somali forces and provide security to personnel from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development as they work with the government to emerge from years of turmoil, the official said.
Former President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of approximately 700 troops from Somalia at the end of his term in January 2021, an extension of a broader policy of seeking to pull the U.S. out of what he derisively referred to as “endless wars” around the world.
But US military leaders said that came at a cost, wasting time, money and momentum as troops had to rotate in and out of the country.
In recent months, Al-Shabaab has reportedly made territorial gains against Somalia’s federal government, reversing the gains of African Union peacekeepers who once had pushed the militants into remote areas of the country.
Biden’s decision to deploy troops came after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, was declared as the winner of the presidential election late Sunday.
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