NAIROBI, Kenya – The progress made by Somalia in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants has been commended by US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin III. This comes as Somalia prepares for its most crucial operation yet against the Al-Qaida linked group, which has been a major source of instability.
For the past three decades, Somalia has faced instability, worsened by the rise of violent extremism in recent years. Since 2007, Al-Shabaab militants have been fighting against the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia in an attempt to take over.
During his visit to Djibouti and Kenya, Austin expressed confidence in the progress made by the country’s fight against the group. He commended the efforts of various teams on the ground, including the Somali National Army, the US Africa Command, and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], who have been at the forefront of the battle.
“I believe that in the past year, they [Somali forces] have achieved more progress than in the previous five years,” Austin told reporters in Djibouti. He acknowledged that these gains would ultimately free the entire country from the grip of Al-Shabaab terrorists.
However, Austin warned that the terror group still has the ability to “spread terror from lawless areas.” He emphasized that the US Africa Command would continue to support the Somali National Army through training, equipping, and providing aerial surveillance when necessary.
Despite the progress, Somalia is concerned that the ongoing withdrawal of ATMIS troops from the country could jeopardize the gains made so far.