President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Somalia in the waning days of his presidency triggered dismay on Saturday from some Somalis, who appealed to the incoming U.S. president to reverse the decision.
“The U.S. decision to pull troops out of Somalia at this critical stage in the successful fight against al-Shabaab and their global terrorist network is extremely regrettable,” Senator Ayub Ismail Yusuf lamented in a statement, referring to the al Qaida-linked al Shabaab insurgency.
“U.S. troops have made a huge contribution and had great impact on the training and operational effectiveness of Somali soldiers,” said Yusuf, a member of Somalia’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
He tagged U.S. President-elect Joe Biden in a tweet criticising the decision.
The Somali government could not immediately be reached for comment early on Saturday to Friday’s decision to withdraw almost all the roughly 700 U.S. troops by Jan. 15. Somalia’s fragile internationally backed government is due to hold parliamentary elections this month and national elections in early February, a precursor to the planned drawdown of the 17,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force.
U.S. troops have been in Somalia, mostly supporting Somali special forces known as Danab in operations against al Shabaab, whose attacks in nations like Kenya and Uganda have killed hundreds of civilians, including Americans.