African Union Troops Complete New Phase of Somalia Withrawal Plan

This file photo taken on January 15, 2013 shows Malian people waving to French soldiers as a convoy of armoured vehicles leave Bamako and start a deployment to the north of Mali as part of the “Serval” operations. President Emmanuel Macron hosts African leaders on February 16, 2022 ahead of an expected announcement that France is withdrawing its troops from Mali after an almost decade-long deployment to battle a jihadist insurgency. Eric Feferberg / AFP

The African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia, where Al-Shabaab militants are waging an insurgency, announced Friday that the second phase of a 3,000-troop withdrawal had been completed after a four-month delay.

Following numerous key setbacks against Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, the Mogadishu administration sought a three-month “technical pause” in the withdrawal, which was supposed to be completed by September last year.

“The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS)… has completed Phase Two drawdown, which involved reducing the troop count by 3,000 soldiers,” the mission stated in a statement.

ATMIS handed over seven forward operating bases to the internationally recognized government while closing two others.

“We will soon begin preparations for the next phase, Phase Three, which will reduce our force by 4,000 troops in June,” stated Lieutenant General Sam Okiding.

The first two phases of the evacuation resulted in the loss of 5,000 men. 14,600 members from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda are still stationed in Somalia.

According to the UN calendar, ATMIS will have completely withdrawn from the Horn of Africa nation by the end of the year, transferring responsibility to Somali security forces.

“We will soon begin preparations for the next phase, Phase Three, which will reduce our force by 4,000 troops in June,” stated ATMIS commander Lieutenant General Sam Okiding.

ATMIS was granted a stronger offensive mandate when it took over in April 2022 from AMISOM, a predecessor force established in 2007 to support the fragile Somali government against the terrorist insurgency.

Al-Shabaab was forced out of Somalia’s major towns and cities between 2011 and 2012, but it still holds influence in wide expanses of rural areas.

Despite a government counter-offensive, US air strikes, and AU ground soldiers, it continues to launch attacks on security and civilian targets, including the capital.

Written by PH

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