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US Boosting Weapons Aid To Somalia For War Against Deadly Terrorist Organization

The U.S. authorized a large shipment of weapons and ammunition to Somalia Tuesday to aid in the fight against an Islamist militant organization that has scourged the country, according to a statement.

Nearly 61 tons of weapons, including AK-47 automatic rifles, heavy machine guns, and ammunition, arrived in Mogadishu and will fuel a growing Somali force to counter the al-Shabaab terrorist organization, according to the statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Somalia. Al-Shabaab, which splintered from a notorious al-Qaeda-backed group in the early 2000’s, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, has recaptured scores of communities and brutalized Mogadishu since August, and triggered a resurgence of joint counterstrikes by the U.S. military and Somali National Army (SNA), The Washington Post reported.

“We are very proud to stand as partners with the Somali National Army and the Somali people in this fight. This ammunition will be provided to the SNA Danab, which is one of the many courageous forces fighting al-Shabaab,” Tim Trinkle, chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, said in a statement.

Somalia declared “total war” on al-Shabaab in 2022, according to the Post.

The organization seeks to install an Islamist government and impose fundamentalist law on the country, according to CFR. In support of that goal, it has ravaged villages, increased control over parts of the country and extorted millions of dollars a year from the populations under their control, the Post reported.

Local militias rose up against al-Shabaab and gained the support of Somalia’s national government, according to the Post. Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti soon took up arms in a “search and destroy” campaign against the militants.

The U.S. continues a limited counterterrorism mission in Somalia, mostly aimed at preventing the country from serving as a launching point for attacks on the U.S. or its allies, according to CFR.

Billions in U.S. security assistance has poured into Somalia throughout multiple presidential administrations, according to CFR. Former President Donald Trump deployed hundreds troops to fight in 2017, but after several U.S. military personnel died in attacks he withdrew the roughly 700 members toward the end of his presidency.

President Joe Biden reauthorized several hundred troop deployments in mid-2022, according to CFR.

U.S. forces in Somalia operate in support of the Somali National Army, carrying out all combat operations against rampant terrorist groups as a partner of the federal military, according to U.S. Africa Command.

“The U.S. is one of several countries providing support to the Federal Government of Somalia in its ongoing campaign to disrupt, degrade and defeat terrorist groups,” according to AFRICOM. “Rooting out extremism ultimately requires intervention beyond traditional military means, leveraging U.S. and partner efforts to support effective governance, promote stabilization and economic development, and resolve ongoing conflicts.”

In a separate statement, the U.S., Somalia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Somalia reaffirmed their support for Somalia’s counter-terror efforts.

The UN Security Council still leverages a block on certain arms imports by the Somali government, the statement said.

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