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US foreign policy

US to reverse Trump admin. decision in Somalia, will redeploy hundreds of troops

“Al-Shabab has taken advantage of Somali instability and fractious politics to become al-Qaeda’s largest and wealthiest global affiliate,” the US official said.

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The Biden administration will redeploy hundreds of US troops to Somalia, reversing a decision by former President Donald Trump to withdraw the forces that were on a counterterrorism mission.

“Ultimately, re-establishing a persistent US military presence in the country is a clear indicator of the United States’ dedication to [counterterrorism] and to demonstrating US resolve as an enduring, credible partner for the Somali government,” a senior US official said.

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The decision comes as the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabab has become a “notable priority,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Al-Shabab has taken advantage of Somali instability and fractious politics to become al-Qaeda’s largest and wealthiest global affiliate. It exerts influence essentially throughout the country of Somalia,” the official said.

The official did not specify how many US troops would be deployed, but it will be short of the 700 servicemembers that Trump ordered withdrawn. “It will be under 500 [troops].”

Implementing this decision will involve repositioning troops already stationed in neighboring countries, according to the US official. “The administration’s approach to counterterrorism focuses on prioritizing our high-end, but also limited, resources on the most dangerous and ascendant threats.”

The official added: “Big picture, there is much work to be done in Somalia with respect to counterterrorism.”

Read more: Former Somali leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud wins presidency