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    In Djibouti, the Somali president talks with the US defense secretary.

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    Mogadishu

    On Sunday in Djibouti, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

    They discussed a variety of issues, including the fight against the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab, the Somalia-US security relationship, and Mogadishu’s drive to lift Somalia’s arms embargo.

    Following the collapse of Somalia’s military rule, the UN Security Council imposed the embargo in early 1992.

    “They discussed further strengthening the #Somalia-US security partnership, support for the ongoing offensive against international terrorism, and efforts to lift the decades-long arms embargo,” the Somali presidency said after the meeting in a brief statement posted on X.

    Austin will visit Kenya and Angola during his first trip to Africa as defense secretary to reaffirm Washington’s commitment to the region and discuss “African-led solutions to mutual security challenges and underscore the importance of our partnerships on the continent,” he said in a statement after arriving in Djibouti.

    His visit with Mohamud comes after the country experienced military defeats in its struggle against al-Shabaab after the terrorist group staged a deadly attack on an army camp in Cowsweyne last month, resulting in a rapid military retreat from front lines.

    Following the defeats, Mogadishu has requested a three-month postponement in the planned withdrawal of troops from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

    The unexpected turn of events has stretched “our military forces thin, exposed vulnerabilities in our frontlines, and necessitated a thorough reorganization to ensure we maintain our momentum in countering the al-Shabaab threat,” according to a letter to the UN Security Council obtained by Anadolu on Friday.

    Despite setbacks, the Somali National Army, backed by local clan-based militias, is continuing its anti-terrorist operations.

    The Somali Defense Ministry announced on Saturday that the country’s armed forces carried out a precise airstrike in the central province of Galgaduud, targeting an al-Shabaab meeting house in Elbur.

    The airstrike killed top executives, including al-Shabaab’s finance and extortion chief, named only as Sahal.

    For years, the country has been beset by insecurity, with al-Shabaab and the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group posing the most serious threats.​​​​​​​

    Since President Mohamud launched a “all-out war” on Al-Shabaab in August 2022, the terrorist group has increased its attacks.

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