Kenya protests Trump’s move to pull troops out of Somalia

Says move likely going to put at risk the security arrangements in place to fight terrorism.

In Summary

• Macharia’s statement comes after reports that President Donald Trump has informed his top advisers that he wants to withdraw US troops from Somalia.

• An article carried by Bloomberg said this will allow Trump to make good on campaign pledges to bring soldiers home even though Somalia remains under a big threat by the insurgents.

US troops being evacuated from Somalia's Mogadishu town
US troops being evacuated from Somalia's Mogadishu town
Image: COURTESY

Kenya has protested a move by the US to pull its troops from Somalia.

Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya said such a move is likely going to put at risk the security arrangements in place to fight terrorism and to advance the common cause of the international community.

Principal Secretary Kamau Macharia said  Kenya has in the past suffered a sharp investment and economic setbacks following the Al-Qaeda affiliate terrorist attacks, including those of the 1998 US Embassy bombing and the Westgate Mall and Dusit 2 Hotel attacks among others.

Macharia’s statement comes after reports that President Donald Trump has informed his top advisers that he wants to withdraw US troops from Somalia.

An article carried by Bloomberg said this will allow Trump to make good on campaign pledges to bring soldiers home even though Somalia remains under a big threat by the insurgents.

According to the article, the Pentagon has begun drafting plans for the president, and discussions have involved National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.

The U.S. has 650 to 800 troops in Somalia, according to the U.S. Africa Command, including Special Forces that are helping train Somalia’s army.

Kenya said it continues to seek ways to transform trade and investment partnerships with the US in ways that can accelerate economic growth and have a deep impact on peace and development in Kenya and, indeed, in the East African region.

“The upcoming Free Trade Agreement with the United States holds great promise for a much more invigorated trading regime between the partner countries. Nothing sends a powerful signal for growth and better trade relations than a partnership built around a stable and progressive political environment devoid of any threats, particularly those of terrorist elements such as Al Qaeda and its affiliates including, Al Shabaab,” Macharia said.

Macharia said a sustainable, prosperous and stable Horn of Africa open to major trade and investment can only be realized when these Al-Qaeda affiliates no longer pose a military threat and after the ideological and social apparatus they command has been dismantled.

“This in turn would entail durable and predictable partnership between The United States and Kenya that would ensure that, together, they take actions to cripple the leadership of these terrorist organizations and sanction and prosecute their finances and source of funding,” he said.

 The PS said to do this, Kenya will continue to work with partners in the region including Somalia and the African Union.

“Kenya will also expand its counter-terrorism financing and money laundering campaign driven by multinational investigations and prosecutions which have this far proven significantly effective,” Macharia said.

He added, “Kenya will also seek to sharpen its AMISOM counter-terrorism force in its support to Somalia in Kenya’s mission-critical contribution to dismantling Al Shabaab and other terror groups in Somalia”.

Macharia said in order to achieve this, Kenya will have to continue to be emphatic in its position not to negotiate with or embrace Al Shabaab leaders who, tragically, remain determined to launch horrific attacks in Somalia, the United States and other countries, as well as in Kenya.

“Kenya hopes that any action undertaken by its partners in this effort to fight terrorism will not put at risk the security arrangements in place to fight terrorism and to advance the common cause of the international community,” he said.