Is US fighting an endless war in Somalia?

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — The Pentagon announces almost daily the launch of new strikes against the Somali youth movement, without showing any impact on the ability of the al Qaeda-linked group to destabilize the country in the midst of what appears to be an “endless war” waged by the United States.

While Washington intends to reduce its presence in Africa to focus its efforts on its strategic rivals – China and Russia – at the expense of supporting the French operation against jihadists on the African coast, for example, the war against Al-Shabaab does not seem concerned with this intention.

Recently, the commander of the US infantrymen in Africa, General Roger Cloutier, considered that al-Shabaab is one of the most serious threats on the continent, as it aspires to attack our country.

“We must seriously deal with the threat that it poses … that is why we are focusing on them,” he said at a Pentagon conference call.

And Friday, the US military command in Africa (AFRICOM) announced in a statement that it had launched a strike in the suburbs of Konyo Baru, southern Somalia, that led to the death of a member of Al-Shabaab.

This is the 20th strike by the US military against youth in Somalia since the beginning of the year, after 64 strikes were carried out in 2019 and 43 in 2018, according to a census conducted by New America.

– “Lawn mowers” –

When asked recently about US strikes against jihadist groups in Libya and Somalia, Defense Secretary Mark Asper said, “This is what we call lawn mowing.”

“This means that from time to time, similar things must be done to maintain control and ensure that the danger does not increase and reappear.”

Estimates say that the number of youth fighters ranges between 5 and 9 thousand, and if the United States sticks to this approach, that is, eliminating one or two fighters a day, it will take at least 13 years to overcome the movement. That is, it will turn into a “war without end” of the kind that President Donald Trump detests.

In the first public opinion report on the US military operation in Somalia, published in February, Defense Department Inspector-General Glenn Fine reminded that AFRICOM’s mission is to “weaken” the horizon of 2021 by al-Shabaab and ISIS in Somalia and other extremist groups in East Africa, so that it is unable to harm the interests of the United States.”

The Office of the Inspector General, an independent Pentagon body, added that “despite the ongoing American strikes and American support for African partner forces, al-Shabaab appears to be a mounting threat and seeks to target American soil.”

Meanwhile, on February 5, the movement attacked a Kenyan American military base in southeastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia, killing 3 Americans.

On December 28, one of the bloodiest operations in a decade in Somalia was carried out, with a car bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

– useless –

American lawmakers have concerns about the absence of tangible results for this war, which is conducted by drones and a small group of elite forces in the field.

When asked at the end of January about seemingly futile near-daily strikes, AFRICOM Commander Gen. Stephen Townsend defended the US strategy.

“I don’t think it is sterile,” he said, adding, “We are seeking to reduce their capabilities.”

For Catherine Besteman, a researcher at the Watson Institute, which calculates the cost of American wars annually, “military interventions in Somalia did not improve the situation, but rather strengthened youth control over the population.”

She added that the youth movement is benefiting from the war economy by blackmailing the population and robbery of funds derived from international aid.

In addition, Amnesty International considers that American strikes claim civilian casualties, even if the US military claims otherwise.

In a report released last year, the organization accused the US military of indiscriminately bombing civilians and extremists, killing farmers, workers, and even children.

After an internal investigation, the US military acknowledged responsibility for the killing of a woman and a child in Somalia.


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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.