The planned withdrawal of American troops from Somalia next month is creating fear in the region that it might give al-Shabaab militants a chance to resurge.
President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of almost all 700 American soldiers who have been working with African Union troops in Somalia to fight the Somali insurgents.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso told Daily Monitor that the withdrawal will create security vacuum in the country.
“It is unfortunate that it has happened so fast but we can’t do much. Their withdrawal will definitely impact on the fight against terrorism but African Union will have to move faster to fix the gap,” she said.
Brig Byekwaso said African troops composed of Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia, will have to realign their positions to bridge the gap that will be left by the Americans.
“We may soon start seeing troops moved from their current positions to fill the vacuum left by the Americans,” she said.
Uganda has the highest number of African troops in Somalia with more than 6,000 soldiers in Banadir region.
Brig Byekwaso said African Union Mission in Somalia [Amisom] troops will miss the technical intelligence that the Americans have been giving the troops on the insurgents using drones.
The State minister for International Relations, Mr Henry Okello Oryem, said it was “regrettable” that the Americans are withdrawing from Somalia at “a critical moment”.
“It puts our troops in a vulnerable position because they have withdrawn when Amisom is also drawing down its troops,” he said.
A Pentagon statement said last Friday that the order to “reposition the majority of personnel and assets out of Somalia by early 2021” did not signify a change in US policy.