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US building $100 million military bases for foreign nation

A pile of money. (Government Accountability Office)
June 12, 2024

Earlier this year, it was announced that the United States and Somalia National Army (SNA) were strengthening ties with a plan to build five military bases. The bases will be used by the Somali Army’s Danab Brigade, established in 2017, during the ongoing fight against the terrorist group al-Shabab. The project is expected to be completed at a cost of over $100 million.

The agreement marks the latest development in an ongoing partnership between the United States and the Somalian government. Diplomatic relationships were first established in 1960, following Somalia’s independence from British and Italian administrations. Somalia experienced a military coup in 1969; however, that led to the replacement of elected officials with a military regime. In 2017, Somalia adopted a provisional constitution and Federal Government of Somalia.

According to the U.S. State Department, the U.S. has supplied more than $3 billion in humanitarian assistance to Somalia since 2006. In addition to humanitarian aid, U.S. military forces have been provided to aid Somalian forces sporadically through various presidential acts.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining the plan to build the bases, signed between Somali Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and the U.S., is seen as a move to assist Somalia in defense against al-Shabaab attacks following the U.N. Security Council’s approval to scale back U.S. peacekeeping forces in the region.

READ MORE: U.S. donates $9 million in weapons, equipment to support the Somali National Army

During the reorganization of Somalia’s government, a terrorist organization known as al-Shabaab took control of the southern part of Somalia in 2006. Fractions of the group continue to launch sporadic attacks throughout Somalia, utilizing bombs and attacks that target Somali officials. In 2008, the U.S. Government declared the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

In 2022, Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared “total war” against al-Shabab following an attack on a hotel in Mogadishu that left 21 people dead and over 100 injured. In early 2023, with the aid of $9 million in U.S. Military equipment, the Somali Army was successful in expelling al-Shabab from several villages. The group had reportedly been terrorizing residents, recruiting young men into their cause, and enforcing a tax on each person. The takeover was considered a turning point in the Somalian Army’s fight against the group.

Somalia has also enjoyed support from the African Union (AU), which built a base and supplied military aid through the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). The AU established a base near Mogadishu, which was granted to the Somalian Army for use in 2023 in anticipation of the AU withdrawal of aid planned for 2024. Despite these efforts, al-Shabab continues to grow, with 2022 marking the deadliest year in attacks, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).