MOGADISHU, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – The United States has stepped up its military aid to Somalia as the country experiences progress in its fight against what the US calls “the largest and most deadly al-Qaida network in the world.”
In a statement, the US announced that 61 tons of weapons and ammunition had arrived in Mogadishu as part of its support for the Somalia-led military campaign against al-Shabab extremists.
The campaign has recaptured dozens of communities since August. It has been dubbed a “total war” by Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Who is Al-Shabab in Somalia?
Al-Shabab is an Islamist extremist group that seeks to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia. The group has been active in the country since 2006.
It has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks, including the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed 67 people.
Al-Shabab has also been involved in piracy and smuggling weapons and people across the Horn of Africa. Somalia has been in conflict for decades, with various factions vying for control of the country.
Successful military campaign against al-Shabab
Local communities and militias initiated the current military offensive against al-Shabab, pushed to the brink by the extremist group’s taxation policies, and exacerbated by the country’s worst drought on record.
The Somali government quickly lent its support to the campaign, which has seen the neighboring countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti agreeing to a joint “search and destroy” mission against al-Shabab.
US provides support to Somalia-led campaign
The US has an estimated 450 military personnel in Somalia after President Joe Biden reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces.
The US supports the Somali forces and a multinational African Union force with drone strikes, intelligence, and training.
In a joint statement with other leading security partners, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Britain, the US expressed its commitment to support Somalia’s efforts to manage weapons and ammunition, which could lead to the lifting of the United Nations Security
“Partners agreed on the importance of ensuring timely delivery of stabilization assistance to newly liberated areas. They committed to support Somalia’s efforts to meet the benchmarks on weapons and ammunition management to enable the UN Security Council to fully lift the arms controls on the Federal Government of Somalia,” the countries have said in a statement.
Efforts to shed Somalia’s history as a failed state
Somalia has been recovering from decades of conflict. The federal government is eager to attract investment and shed the country’s history as a failed state.
Under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the government is cracking down on al-Shabab’s financial network and encouraging religious authorities to reject the extremist group’s propaganda.
The government has also enlisted a former deputy al-Shabab leader as the country’s current minister for religious affairs.
The increased support for the Somalia-led military campaign comes as the African Union force is set to withdraw from the country and hand over security responsibilities to Somalia by the end of 2024.
The US and its partners’ increased assistance will help bolster Somalia’s efforts to defeat al-Shabab and create a stable and secure environment for the country’s future development.