U.S. Somalia Policy at a Crossroads

Published: September 28, 2023
U.S. Somalia Policy at a Crossroads

Washington D.C. – The Biden administration is facing calls to overhaul its strategy in Somalia as the U.S. remains embroiled in a 16-year campaign against the al-Shabaab militant group.

According to analysts published Foreign Affairs, the current U.S. approach of primarily using military force and airstrikes to contain al-Shabaab is unlikely to lead to long-term stability and peace. The U.S. has carried out over 280 airstrikes in Somalia since 2007.

Critics argue the U.S. needs to shift focus to supporting political reconciliation and stabilization efforts. The Somali government has struggled to consolidate territorial gains against al-Shabaab and address deep societal divisions that fuel the insurgency.

The U.S. risks becoming stuck in a cycle of temporary military victories followed by al-Shabaab regrouping if underlying issues are not resolved, experts warn. They advocate for diplomatic efforts to broker negotiated settlement between Somali factions.

Later this month, the U.S. will join talks between Somalia and its international partners. Analysts say this represents an opportunity for the U.S. to push for a comprehensive political solution centered on reconciliation.

However, challenges remain, including potential resistance from U.S. military officials who emphasize al-Shabaab’s terrorist ties and Congressional inertia on Africa policies. Meaningful progress will require substantial U.S. leadership at a pivotal moment.