The New York Times reports that the Biden administration has signed an order authorizing the re-deployment of hundreds of Special Operations forces into Somalia. Additionally, the Pentagon has been granted discretionary authority to resume airstrikes across the nation. The Democratic Socialists of America International Committee (DSA IC) strongly opposes all US military activity on the African continent, and calls for the immediate withdrawal of US military personnel from Somalia.
For more than thirty years, Somalia has been subject to interventions by the United Nations, US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others. These institutions exert political, economic and military power to service the needs of US multinational corporations. For example, countless US airstrikes have occurred in the petroleum-rich Lower Shabelle region, resulting in the uprooting of rural communities while securing favorable conditions for investment in offshore oil blocks by companies like Shell and Exxon-Mobil.
Through its security partnerships in the Horn, the US maintains permanent or semi-permanent bases in Mombasa and Manda Bay, Kenya; Chebelley and Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; and Bosaso and Galkayo, Somalia. Joint military exercises like Justified Accord find the US and dozens of partner nations testing their battle readiness, while the needs of Africans go unmet.
The people of Somalia contend with a multitude of forces impacting their survival, including real threats of extreme violence at the hands of Al-Shabaab. Re-deploying US troops into Somalia will only benefit the extremist elements wreaking havoc on the lives of Somalis, as well as the military industries which profit from endless war. The record is clear that decades-long counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and Iraq met with resounding failure and left the populations of these nations in a state of total devastation.
By the end of 2020, the Trump administration had launched 208 airstrikes across Somalia, compared to 42 airstrikes combined between the previous administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. A 2019 study found that since AFRICOM’s establishment in 2007, the number of military missions, activities, programs and exercises on the African continent had risen 1,900%, from 172 to 3,500. US airstrikes routinely lead to civilian deaths and often target the most fertile areas of the country, destroying the land which is the economic base upon which millions of Somalis rely. The ability of Al-Shabaab to recruit young Somali fighters will not be diminished by the expansion of US military activities across Somalia.
DSA IC recognizes that the development of AFRICOM was in part a direct response to the immediate threat posed by China’s ability to weaken the US monopoly on export markets and investment finance on the African continent. As the US moves ever closer to military confrontation with China, Africans will see their lands, resources and labor under increased threat of control by the US. DSA IC opposes all efforts by the US to consolidate its power at the expense of Africans, and demands the immediate withdrawal of all military forces, including AFRICOM and all private military contractors, from Somalia.