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US Support in Somalia Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time

Somalia’s newly elected president is welcoming word that U.S. special operation forces will again be based in Somalia to help in the fight against the al-Shabab terror group. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud thanked U.S. President Joe Biden in a tweet Tuesday, calling the United States “a reliable partner in our quest to stability and fight against terrorism.” U.S. forces have been working for years with Somali forces in their efforts to contain al-Shabab, described by U.S. military and intelligence officials as the al-Qaida terror group’s wealthiest and most powerful affiliate. But in December 2020, former U.S. President Donald Trump ordered about 750 U.S. forces in Somalia to withdraw, instead having them fly in for periodic engagements. U.S. officials, explaining the decision to deploy fewer than 500 troops to Somalia as part of what they describe as a persistent presence, agreed that the cost in waiting any longer would be high. Al-Shabab “has unfortunately only grown stronger” since the December 2020 decision to no longer maintain an ongoing U.S. military presence in Somalia, a White House official said Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the new authorization.