President Biden has made a promise to end “permanent wars,” a policy that culminated in a strategically and morally catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan. News this week that US troops will be returning to Somalia is a welcome sign that the White House knows it cannot continue to ignore inconvenient security issues.
US officials on Monday confirmed that no more than 500 US troops will redeploy to the East African country, where al-Shabaab, perhaps al Qaeda’s most powerful affiliate, continues to control territory and practice carry out terrorist attacks. Donald Trump withdrew from the country in the closing days of his presidency, but American forces have since made ineffective and dangerous voyages in and out of Somalia for temporary deployments.
A permanent presence is a small undertaking but an important part of the war on terror. Coming and going disrupted operations, while more consistency could lift the morale of local forces, who shoulder most of the burden. The African Union countries contribute about 19,000 troops to the peacekeeping force, although intelligence and the US air force play an important role in this mission.
A small permanent US presence could also strengthen its influence over Somalia’s dysfunctional central government. Corruption and political turmoil in Mogadishu often undermine the mission to fight terrorism, but Afghanistan has served as a reminder that countries can encounter regimes worse than those flawed by the West. backing.
The United States does not have the power to control events in Somalia or micromanage the deeply troubled country, but Washington needs to find a way between giving up and supporting the central government. One option is that diplomats can look beyond the capital and elevate the country’s federal member states. This requires long-term but manageable commitments like the one Mr. Biden has made.
China and Russia pose greater threats to American interests than Islamic terrorism, but that doesn’t mean organizations like al-Shabaab and the Islamic State will go away. Credit to the President for taking action.
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Appears May 18, 2022, print.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/president-bidens-return-to-somalia-troops-al-shabaab-terrorism-africa-11652819075 President Biden’s Return to Somalia