By Abdi Nor Iftin
On Dec. 4 President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Defense to withdraw troops and assets out of Somalia by early 2021.
The U.S. has been in Somalia directly or indirectly since the war on terror was announced by President George W. Bush. The main objective of the U.S. was preventing Somalia from becoming a refuge for terror groups like Al-Shabab to plot attacks on the United States and its allies. The objective failed at the beginning, and the terror group took over most of the country in early 2006, creating the largest displacement and refugees since 1991.
I am one of those refugees who escaped the war in 2011 and sought asylum in Kenya. But the U.S. involvement in Somalia at least helped establish the current Somali government, built and trained its army. With the help of the U.S., Somalia’s deadliest terror group was removed from major cities and cornered into small towns and villages, where they wage guerrilla attacks targeting civilians. One thing is clear, without the U.S. Involvement, Somalia will easily fall into the hands of this deadly group. It may not even take them a day.
The question every Somali is asking is, why now? No other country has been interested in Somalia’s future as much as the United States with its funding and training of Somali army and African Union troops. Trump may be trying to give President-elect Joe Biden a hard time with the foreign policy. It is not clear to us what Biden’s foreign policy will look like, especially towards Somalia. But my fellow Somalis and I agree the Biden/Harris administration should redo Trump’s withdrawal order to continue supporting the Somali government and its fight against Al-Shabab. I have my family in Mogadishu and their biggest fear now is an arrival of the terror groups in their neighborhood. They may be targeted for my life here in Maine or because I snd them money from the U.S.
Somalis are in agreement that the U.S. army presence in Somalia is never a solution; at some point the troops should leave and we would want our country back from military rule. But this is not the right time to withdraw. Al-Shabab was created by U.S. involvement in the Middle East in the early 2000s. I lived in Mogadishu at the time. I had never seen a suicide bomber in my life until after the U.S. war on terror. Somalia became one of the countries with the highest suicide bombers targeting civilians.
When most Americans are sitting around their dinner tables planning for Christmas, Somali families are talking about this issue, which seems to be a major shift in the U.S. foreign policy in East Africa. Will my family be safe? Where will they go if they decide to leave the country? Which country is accepting refugees now? These are the questions that arise. For me, I have no idea where my family will end up if the terror group storms into the city again. It will be a constant nightmare. Now, all eyes are on the Biden administration and what they can do about this issue.
Source: press herald