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The Crossroads of Special Operations

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Expanding U.S. Counterterrorism in Somalia Is Necessary but Insufficient | Law Fare Blog

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In May, Somalia received a new president, and the United States made a commitment to counterterrorism against al-Shabaab, the most potent affiliate of al-Qaeda. The United States has extended its drone strike program in Somalia to include a dozen high-value targets and defend allied soldiers.Tricia Bacon of American University contends that they will hamper the group but not significantly alter the country’s equilibrium. She suggests that negotiations should be pursued despite their inherent dangers. The diplomatic objective of Somalia’s new president, Mohamud Abdi, is to enhance the efficacy of a Somali special operations force.

These are promising advances, but they are small compared to the magnitude of the problems. Drone strikes will not be sufficient to alter the security situation in Somalia, but they may open the door for alternative options. Al-Shabaab has carried out many significant assaults in Kenya, notably against the U.S. military presence there, and its Kenyan cadre is now more capable of undertaking complex domestic and international strikes. The organization has had its share of internal turmoil in the past, but it looks to be retaining coherence and togetherness now.

The international community is hesitant to make the substantial expenditures required to alter Somalia’s direction; changes are improbable without elite buy-in. The United States and other nations have been wary of negotiating with al-Shabaab, particularly in light of Afghanistan’s terrible end. Several specialists have emphasized that the current period is not suitable for discussions. However, initiating conversation under the new administration might divulge crucial group information and exacerbate internal divides.

Source: https://www.lawfareblog.com/expanding-us-counterterrorism-somalia-necessary-insufficient

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