US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of the US Army from Somalia by 15 January. This information has been given by the US Ministry of Defense.
There are around 700 US soldiers in Somalia who are helping local security forces in the fight against alleged extremist organizations like al-Shabaab and Islamic State.
According to US officials, some soldiers will be sent to neighboring countries. They will be given special permission for cross-border operations.
In recent months, President Trump has also issued similar orders to withdraw US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Donald Trump has been talking of recalling the US Army for a long time. He has been critical of long-running military operations in other countries for being expensive and ineffective.
With this order, Donald Trump has also reversed the policy of former US Defense Minister Mark Asper. Mark Asper was removed from the post only last month. He was in support of the presence of the US military in Somalia.
However, the US Defense Ministry has issued a statement saying that the order to move most soldiers and properties out of Somalia by early 2021 is not a sign of a change in US policy.
The Defense Ministry said, “We will continue to harm extremist organizations that pose a threat to our country. We will also maintain our strategic advantage.”
Last month, senior US government officials advised not to withdraw troops from Somalia. They said that the local security forces would not be able to compete with the extremists without US cooperation.
Lawmakers and officials in Somalia also said that the withdrawal of American troops from Somalia could be very dangerous and it would further strengthen the courage of the extremists.
According to the US Ministry of Defense, whatever US Army survives in Somalia will remain only in the country’s capital Mogadishu.
Somalia has had political instability for decades, but in recent years, with the help of the African Union peacekeeping forces with the US military, it has regained control of Mogadishu and other areas that previously had al-Shabaab influence. Al Shabaab is an extremist organization associated with Al Qaeda.
However, despite his 2016 election campaign to oust America from these never ending wars, President Trump has increased military action against al-Shabaab, particularly in the form of air strikes.
Last month, US Defense Ministry officials said that the number of US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq would be reduced.
According to officials, the army in Afghanistan will be reduced from 5000 to 2500 by mid-January and the number of troops in Iraq will be reduced from 3000 to 2500.