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Out in the Cold for Somalia’s Fragile State

Somalis fear a U.S. decision to withdraw troops from their country will be seen as a victory for the Qaeda-linked militants who have wreaked havoc there for years, and sow the potential for further chaos at an especially delicate moment for Somalia and the region. Somali presidential elections are scheduled in just two months, war is erupting in neighboring Ethiopia, and the militants, from the Shabab, are still strong despite years of American-led raids and drone strikes. The timing of Friday’s Pentagon announcement, some Somalis say, is terrible. The Pentagon says it will “reposition” some of the estimated 700 American troops in Somalia to other parts of East Africa — likely Kenya and Djibouti — and continue to carry out raids against the Shabab and a smaller cluster of Islamic State fighters in northern Somalia from bases in neighboring countries. Drone strikes, which have killed numerous senior and midlevel Shabab commanders as well as dozens of civilians, will continue.