US to Send Troops to Somalia for the First Time since ‘Black Hawk Down’ Pullout in 1993 under Clinton
The US military is going to send several dozens of regular troops to Somalia for the first time since a total of 18 US special force personnel were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu back in 1993, a battle made world-famous by the 2001 Hollywood film “Black Hawk Down”.
Somalia has been in disarray since the collapse of the dictatorship of its leader Siad Barre in 1991.
Under President Bill Clinton, the US pulled out its forces from the country after in 1993 two American Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu, and the bodies of the killed American soldiers were dragged in the streets.
The events from the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993 have become world famous thanks to the Oscar-winning film “Black Hawk Down” released in 2001.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Somalia was seen as the epitome of a “failed state” in which the central government in Mogadishu has had little ontrol over most of the country.
Much of Somalia has seen the rise of powerful warlords involved in smuggling and piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, while other parts of the formerly unitary country have been suffering from attacks by the Islamists, including from the Al-Shabab.
Some of Somalia’s regions, most notably Somaliland and Puntland in the north, remain largely autonomous from the government in Mogadishu, which exercises full-fledged control over only a relatively small region around the capital.
While Puntland is seen as a pro-government territory, Somaliland in the northwest has proclaimed its independence.
Islamist militant group Al-Shabab still controls large territories in the southern third of Somalia after it was pushed out of Mogadishu by Somali and African Union forces in the early 2010s.
Militants declaring allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group (“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”) are reported to have emerged in Northern Somalia.
Dozens of regular US troops will be deployed to Somalia, the US Africa Command announced on Friday, as cited by AP.
Although some American counterterrorism advisers are already in Somalia, that will be the largest US deployment in the war-torn Horn of Africa country since the early 1990s.
The US Africa Command said the deployment would include about 40 troops. Its purpose will be logistics training of Somalia’s army, which is fighting the Islamist jihadist group al-Shabab.
US President Donald Trump recently approved an expanded American military role in Somalia, including more aggressive airstrikes against al-Shabab and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.
Last week Somalia’s recently elected President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, aka Farmajo, who is also a US citizen, declared a new offensive against al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for major attacks in other countries in East Africa, including the Garissa University attack in neighboring Kenya in April 2015 which claimed 148 lives.
In February 2016, Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombing of an airliner which had to make an emergency landing shortly after taking off from Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab is reported to have announced an escalation in its terrorist activity in response to the measures approved by US President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, Somalia’s new military chief was targeted by a suicide car bomb attack which killed 13 people. On Monday, a suicide bombing at a military academy in Mogadishu murdered five soldiers.
The 22,000 troops of the African Union stationed in Somalia are planned to withdraw by the end of 2020, beginning in 2018.
“If this departure begins prior to Somalia having capable security forces, large portions of Somalia are at risk of returning to al-Shabab control or potentially allowing ISIS to gain a stronger foothold in the country,” the head of the US Africa Command, Commander General Thomas Waldhauser, said last month, as quoted by AP.
Because of the ongoing civil conflict and a drought, Somalia is presently facing a devastating famine crisis, while its coast has recently seen the return of Somali pirates to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for the first time since 2012.