The U.S. Department of Defense announced on December 4 that President Trump has ordered the withdrawal of “most” of the personnel and equipment stationed in Somalia early next year.
Just last month, Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq would be reduced to 2,500 each by mid-January 2021.
For the sake of interests, the U.S. military, which left “chicken feathers on the ground”, now wants to withdraw its troops like throwing a burden. Is it “evading” or “diging a hole”? !
U.S. troops withdraw from Somalia where the “Black Hawk fell” again
According to the statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense on the 4th on the withdrawal of troops from Somalia, some of the withdrawn U.S. troops will be deployed to neighboring countries to continue cross-border military operations against extremist organizations in Somalia with allies. Some U.S. officials also revealed that some U.S. troops will be transferred to military bases in Kenya and Djibouti; another Some U.S. troops will completely leave eastern Africa.
At present, about 700 U.S. troops are stationed in Somalia to train and assist the Somali government in combating Al-Shabaab militants associated with Al-Qaida. The statement stressed that the United States will retain the ability to carry out counter-terrorism operations in Somalia and continue to collect intelligence on “security threats”. Regarding the withdrawal, the U.S. Department of Defense stressed that this does not mean that the United States will change its policy towards Africa, and that the United States will continue to fight against violent extremist organizations to ensure that it “maintains its strategic advantage in the competition of great powers”.
Somalia is located in the “horn of Africa” and is an important position to guard the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It has been experiencing political turmoil for decades. Al-Shabaab, a Somali affiliate with Al-Qaida, has long carried out terrorist attacks in the country and surrounding countries. Although the Somali government has regained control of the capital Mogadishu from Al-Shabaab in recent years, Al-Shabaab is still waiting for an opportunity to launch terrorist attacks in the southwestern part of the country, and the counter-terrorism situation there remains unclear.
And this is also the second time that the U.S. military has withdrawn from Somalia. In 1993, there was an accident during the U.S. military operation in Somalia. Due to incorrect intelligence, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, 19 people were killed, and one American was captured. The bodies of insulted American soldiers and captured and abused American soldiers Durant were seen all over the world through newspapers, magazines or television pictures.
This led to the Clinton administration being criticized within the United States and forced to announce the withdrawal of troops from Somalia.” The Black Hawk incident “became an unforgettable “pain” in the hearts of the U.S. military for a long time, and once influenced the anti-terrorism and anti-African policy of the United States.
Is the withdrawal of troops from Iraq a bluff?
In addition to withdrawing from Somalia, the Trump administration has recently significantly accelerated the “baggage-sling” withdrawal of troops from overseas. On the 17th of last month, the Pentagon announced that the United States would withdraw 500 soldiers from Iraq by January 15, 2021, reducing the number of U.S. troops to 2,500.
After Trump came to power, he implemented a strategic contraction policy in the Middle East, and the withdrawal of American soldiers from overseas battlefields was his major goal. Therefore, there are obviously realistic considerations for the United States to announce its withdrawal from Iraq at this time. It can not only serve the domestic political needs of the United States, fulfill Trump’s promise to withdraw the U.S. military as much as possible from overseas, but also dig a hole for his successor to clean up the “sss” in Iraq. At the same time, the withdrawal of troops can also be used to warn Iraq and make Iraq aware of the problems it may face after the withdrawal of the United States.
After all, at a time when the situation in Iraq is still unstable, the withdrawal of U.S. troops is likely to create conditions for the recovery and expansion of extremist forces. Since the beginning of this year, with the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in the Middle East, the extremist organization Islamic State has taken the opportunity to reorganize its power and increase its activities in Iraq and surrounding areas. Iraqi intelligence said that the number of attacks increased significantly after the outbreak of COVID-19. In the first half of this year alone, the Islamic State has carried out more than 430 attacks in Iraq. At the same time, affected by the epidemic, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and other countries in the international alliance led by the United States to combat the Islamic State have successively withdrawn all or part of their soldiers from Iraq, seriously weakening the anti-terrorism force. A report released by the United Nations in August pointed out that there are still more than 10,000 residual extremists in Iraq and Syria.” The Islamic State remains intact, can still coordinate attacks or disperse disorganization, and the organization still retains financing channels and has the financial resources to support terrorist attacks.
Therefore, the U.S. forefoot announced the withdrawal of troops, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein visited Russia on November 25 to seek to strengthen military cooperation with Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Russia will meet any demand for Russian-made military equipment in Iraq. In January this year, after the United States launched an air strike in Iraq, which killed Iran’s senior general Suleimani, Iraq resumed negotiations with Russia on the purchase of S-300 air defense systems. During his visit to Russia, the Iraqi Foreign Minister also expressed the hope that Russia could provide intelligence support to the Iraqi military in the military operation against the extremist organization Islamic State.
The United States is “deep in the mud” in Afghanistan.
In addition to reducing the number of troops in Iraq, on the 17th of last month, the United States also announced that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to 2,500 by mid-January 2021. On October 7, 2001, the coalition led by the United States launched an Afghan war against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. In the past 19 years, the United States has lost its troops and spent $2 trillion. Although it overthrows the Taliban regime, it is still unable to control the situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban are even back, and there are continuous conflicts with government forces. Afghanistan is now one of the countries with the largest refugee population in the world. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has publicly said that the United States maintains a military presence under the pretext of combating terrorism in Afghanistan in order to wage war and create contradictions in and around Afghanistan.
In February this year, the United States reached a “landmark” agreement with the Taliban, in which the United States withdrew its troops in exchange for peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which has also been described by the media as “aimed to end the longest war in the United States”. But this insufficient agreement soon showed bad consequences. After the signing of the peace agreement, various conflicts and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan have not decreased but increased. According to the analysis of the U.S. media, the withdrawal of the United States now announced will undoubtedly make the hardliners within the Taliban more powerful and intensify the conflict with the Afghan government forces.
At the same time, the Afghan branch of the Islamic State currently has at least 5,000 militants and regards Afghanistan as an important base for redeployment and waiting for the opportunity to rise. If the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan at this time, the Islamic State may take the opportunity to expand its power.
It is still difficult to balance the interests of all parties with the withdrawal of troops.
The withdrawal plan of the United States immediately aroused widespread concern among American political, military and allies. U.S. Senate Majority Leader McConnell issued a statement saying that premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from overseas battlefields under premature conditions will promote the resurgence of the Islamic State and trigger the resurgence of terrorism around the world. McCall, a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said that the United States needs to maintain an Afghan military presence for the foreseeable future, so as to safeguard U.S. homeland security interests while helping Afghanistan achieve peace. Democratic Senator Duckworth of Illinois accused the Trump administration of “putting the political agenda above national security”. Democratic Senator Reed of Rhode Island also denounced the Trump administration for “choosing the wrong path” and “posing the U.S. military and allies in danger”.
Military generals such as McKenzie, the top commander of the U.S. military forces in the Middle East, also opposed the Trump administration’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, believing that it was not conducive to the peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The presence of U.S. troops also helps prevent the Islamic State from growing its power in Afghanistan. According to media reports, earlier this month, then U.S. Defense Secretary Esper warned against a hasty withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in a memorandum to the White House. But Trump subsequently dismissed Esper, and the media said that the disagreement on the withdrawal of troops was the main reason.
The Afghan government has also expressed concern many times about the accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops, saying that it is not conducive to the stability of Afghanistan. NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg previously warned that the hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan may make Afghanistan a “platform for international terrorists” again. NATO sent 12,000 soldiers to Afghanistan to help the country train security forces, and NATO relies heavily on the logistical support of the U.S. military. The large-scale withdrawal of U.S. troops is tantamount to drawing firewood from the bottom of the cauldron for the remaining NATO troops.
In October this year, when Trump hinted at the withdrawal of troops from Somalia, Somali President Mohammed said in an interview with Bloomberg that he hoped that the U.S. military would “completely complete [anti-terrorism] tasks” while the situation on the ground was still volatile. Somalia will hold parliamentary elections in January next year and presidential elections in early February. The withdrawal of U.S. troops at this time of tension will undoubtedly weaken the local ability to protect the security of election activities.
The cost of “anti-terrorism” in the United States is huge and has little effect.
According to a report released by the “Cost of War” project of the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs of Brown University in the United States, the war on terror launched by the U.S. government after September 11th between fiscal year 2001 and 2020 cost $6.4 trillion. The huge spending of anti-terrorism funds did not achieve the expected effect. According to a poll by the Charles Koch Institute, a US think tank, nearly 70% of Americans believe that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have failed to make them safer. At the same time, nearly half of the respondents believe that the two wars harmed the interests of the United States and made the security environment in the Middle East worse. According to statistics, the war on terror in the United States has killed more than 800,000 warriors, millions of soldiers have been injured, more than 330,000 civilians have died, and 37 million refugees have been displaced.
Whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, the United States, which pursues its own interests, cannot win the so-called “war on terror”, and various factors prevent the United States from completely leaving the mud battlefield everywhere. Some analysts point out that the United States pursues double standards in its counter-terrorism strategy, which weakens the efficiency of international cooperation in counter-terrorism, not only fails to completely eliminate terrorist organizations, but also expands the soil for nourishing terrorism.