On May 15, President Biden approved the redeployment of US troops to Somalia. Biden’s decision, based on US Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin’s request, will deploy “fewer than 500 US troops” (Reuters) who will not engage in combat. This redeployment was initiated to strengthen the front against Al-Shabab.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “The President has approved a request by the Secretary of Defense to re-establish a persistent US military presence in Somalia to enable a more effective fight against al Shabab, which grew stronger and offered increased threat poses.
American intervention in the countries of the South has repeatedly harmed the region and its inhabitants. While some Somalis support US intervention in the region, troop deployment and airstrikes are not an adequate response to Al-Shabab. In 2021, the Biden administration carried out multiple strikes that resulted in the death of civilians and the destruction of the country. Amnesty International says: “Civilian casualties continue to mount as a result of the US military’s covert air war in Somalia, with no justice or reparations for victims of possible violations of international humanitarian law. The redeployment of American troops will lead to human losses. A lasting solution that does not compromise or risk the lives of civilians is imperative. Somali civilians must be guaranteed fair living conditions and political freedom, addressing the root causes of conflict in the region.
US involvement in Somali affairs dates back to 1992, after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War. To counter Al-Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda, the United States launched numerous airstrikes, further radicalizing the group. In February 2020, two civilians were killed and three were injured due to these US-backed airstrikes. A family of five were hit, killing an 18-year-old girl and injuring her two younger sisters, aged 12 and 7, and her 70-year-old grandmother. The girls’ father told Amnesty International: “I never imagined it was going to hit us. I suddenly heard a huge noise. It was as if our house had collapsed…sand and smoke filled my eyes. During another strike the same month, a 53-year-old farmer was killed, leaving behind his wife and eight children. These casualties were caused by just two strikes, but the United States has continued to fund numerous strikes since 1992 that have stolen countless more lives. Somali civilians have still not received reparation or justice for these tragedies.
The voices of Somali civilians must be centered in this fight against terrorism. The actions of the United States will ultimately affect people’s livelihoods. Too often, the United States has declared itself the moral standard by bombing and murdering black and brown people in the Global South. The United States must take responsibility for its actions and cease all intervention in our countries. The fight against terrorism has no meaning when the United States is the terrorist in the eyes of civilians from whom everything has been stolen.