On Thursday, the US House of Representatives rejected a resolution introduced by Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida. The resolution would have required President Biden to remove most US troops from Somalia, arguing that about 900 US troops are in Somalia on a permanent, undefined mission that will never be enough to bring peace to the country.
However, opponents of the resolution warned that withdrawing troops would make it harder to fight al-Shabaab, a group the US labeled a terrorist organization more than a decade ago, and would hurt US national security. Representative John James, a Republican from Michigan who served in Iraq, warned that abandoning Somalia “will not work” and that Gaetz’s plan too closely mirrored President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Joe Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal forced our troops to abandon billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded military equipment, it resulted in 13 young American service members dead, it left hundreds of thousands of American veterans who served in Afghanistan wondering if their efforts were in vain, it embarrassed America on the world stage and left a gaping hole that China and the Taliban rushed to fill in,” he said. “What have we learned?”
During the floor debate, Gaetz argued that foreign influences could be helpful, but the African Union is better positioned to build a stronger sense of national identity and national unity in Somalia.
“The future of Somalia must be determined by Somalia, and to the extent that foreign influences could be helpful, I would argue that the African Union is far better positioned to build a stronger sense of national identity and national unity among clans that have been warring in Somalia for generations than U.S. troops,” he stated.
Gaetz also raised concerns about US-trained soldiers in Somalia leading coups throughout Africa. In March, he cited reports that say some U.S.-trained soldiers have led several coups and coup attempts, asking U.S. Africa Command Gen. Michael Langley, USMC, “why taxpayers should be funding this effort anymore.”
However, most Republicans and Democrats disagreed with Gaetz, with Democrats backing Biden’s move to send troops back to Somalia last year by saying a US presence is needed in the country. Representative Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York, argued that the resolution fails to end the US involvement in hostilities in the region while preventing crucial security cooperation with local partners in Somalia.
This vote is the second attempt by Gaetz to withdraw US troops from Somalia in the new Congress, following a failed resolution in March to remove about 900 US troops in Syria.
Fox News contributed to this article
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