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Florida Congressman Gaetz proposes vote to end US military presence in Somalia

Tuesday March 28, 2023

Rep. Matt Gaetz (AP Photo/ Manuel Balce Ceneta, FILE)

Mogadishu (HOL) - Florida Republican lawmaker Matt Gaetz is planning to introduce a war powers resolution calling for the withdrawal of United States armed forces from Somalia.

Gaetz believes that Congress needs more current authority to deploy troops abroad than the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was passed over 20 years ago to combat al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and which is the legal justification for U.S. involvement in Somalia. The legality of the AUMF has been regarded as tenuous by experts, and former George W. Bush administration official Jack Goldsmith advanced the idea of applying it to al-Qaeda's associated forces.

"The American people deserve transparency and a clear understanding of our military's role in Somalia. It is crucial that we evaluate the reasons for our continued presence there and assess its impact on our national security," Gaetz said in a statement.

He argues that if Congress cannot justify how the occupation serves the interests of the American people, then troops must be brought home.

The resolution would make exceptions for soldiers assigned to protect the U.S. Embassy.

The war powers resolution would require a vote in the House of Representatives within 18 days of its introduction and mandate the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Somalia no later than 365 days after its adoption.

U.S. service members provide training to East African forces in Somalia on Jan. 30, 2021. AFRICOM forces continue to train, advise and support Somali and other East African partners in their fight against violent extremism. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hannah Strobel)

A previous resolution from Gaetz called for the withdrawal of approximately 900 service members stationed in Syria but was defeated in a 321-103 vote.

Gaetz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, filed the Syria resolution in late February following a report from U.S. Central Command that four U.S. service members were injured during a joint U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) helicopter raid in northeastern Syria, which killed a senior ISIS leader.

Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad was the last U.S. soldier to be killed by Al Shabaab fighters during an attack in Jubaland in June 2018.

Despite campaigning on ending the "forever wars" in the Middle East, President Biden agreed to send about 500 US troops to Somalia to fight the extremist group al-Shabaab in May 2022.


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