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[LISTEN] Biden’s Deployment of Troops to Somalia Really a Business Decision

May 19, 2022

Umm Muhammed Umar

Radio Islam spoke to Ebrahim Thembisa Fakude, Senior Research Fellow at Africa Asia Dialogue, about US President, Joe Biden’s decision to send troops back to Somalia. While Ebrahim said that the troops were probably enroute to Somalia as the announcement was made two days ago, he added that what was interesting was that the announcement had been made just hours after the election of Hassan Mohamud. He asserted, “So, it means that the discussions took place way before the elections that occurred on Sunday, which makes one really wonder about the extent of the US involvement in Somali politics.”

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has given no reason for the deployment. Fakude said that the reason, however, was obvious. He said, “the Red Sea is becoming very busy in terms of traffic – 70% of the international maritime traffic goes through the Red Sea, past Bab-El-Mandeb, and Somalia has got the longest coast line along the Red Sea.” He added, “So, anyone who ignores the presence of their country in the Red Sea, does so at their own peril – China is invested quite a bit in Djibouti; you already have French and Italians.”

According to Fakude, while Al Shabab could also be a motivating factor in the US decision to deploy troops to the country, the group was not only about the liberation of Somalia, but was also involved in piracy. He said, “Yes, you have to fight al Shabab, but the reason why you’re fighting is not necessarily because they are associated with al Qaeda, but it’s because they’re disrupting the business along the Red Sea.

Regarding the election of Hassan Mohamud to the office of President, Fakude said that he had been president previously, and was credited for a number of positive developments in Somalia. He said, “But Somalia is a very fragmented country. When you talk Somalia officially, we’re basically talking capital, Mogadishu, because the rest of the country is controlled by al Shabab. He explained, “this is why they can’t have ‘one man, one vote’ elections – because of the security situation, and the logistics also, to conduct a vote is a bit complicated.” Fakude said that Mohamud had been involved in Somalian politics for some time, having been the president before, so there was hope that this time around, his relationship, particularly when dealing with the West, would also aid the improvement of the situation.

Life for ordinary civilians on the ground in Somalia is far from normal. The State was not functioning as it should, with most services concentrated in Mogadishu. The rest of the country, according to Fakude, was controlled by warlords, associated with al Shabab. He said, “the situation is very dire. It’s very difficult for major economic growth, because those kinds of instruments are non-existent in Somalia……. you’re looking at, mainly, a big municipal authority running the entire country.” He added, “It’s one of the poorest countries in the world, and until you have the semblance of peace and stability, it’s very difficult to put any form of measurement on how it’s doing economically.”

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