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Africom says Farmajo’s ‘illegal’ extension is thorn to Somalia’s security

MOGADISHU (SD) – The Commander of the United States Africa Command (Africom) has said Somalia’s current political crisis has created the biggest obstacle to security in Somalia and not the militant insurgent group Al-Shabaab.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Army Gen. Stephen Townsend of Africom told the team that the dispute between the federal government and its members states and the subsequent ‘illegal’ term extension for the government led by president Mohamed Abdullahi could plunge the country into instability.

“Al-Shabab is not the biggest concern in Somalia now, but rather the “political dysfunction that exists between the federal government of Somalia, and the federal member states … the extra constitutional extension of the president’s term in office — that’s our biggest challenge, I think, right now,” Townsend said in response to a question from Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the committee chairman.

Townsend also stated that the Trump administration’s decision to reposition troops outside of Somalia has created fresh challenges in the fight against al-Shabab terrorists.

“There’s no denying that the repositioning of forces out of Somalia has introduced new layers of complexity and risk,” he said.

The General said that US troops often fly in from either Djibouti or Kenya.

“We have been commuting to work. We work virtually with our partners from our bases in the region, and then we fly in to conduct training and to advise and assist our partners.”

US government had withdrawn about 700 of its soldiers in Somalia last January following withdrawal order by the then President Donald Trump.

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