Somali army commander, Gen. Adwa Yusuf Raggi, has met US Ambassador to Mogadishu, Larry André, to discuss counterterrorism operations and the fight against extremist groups in Somalia.
The meeting, which took place on Feb. 18, came as the al-Qaeda-leaning al-Shabaab movement continued to widen the scope of its activities in the eastern African country.
Commander of the US Africa Command, Gen. Stephen Townsend, also attended the meeting which took place at the Baledogle military base in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia.
US-trained Somali Special Forces are stationed in the base and stage counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab from it.
The US Embassy in Mogadishu said Ambassador André and Gen. Townsend had met US military personnel operating in Baledogle.
It added that the two US officials also had ‘fruitful’ discussions with Gen. Raggi on common security interests in Somalia.
The meeting also discussed the need for the Somali army to disengage from political problems in Somalia, according to media reports.
They added that the meeting also focused on the fight against terrorism and the work required for defeating al-Shabaab.
US troops withdrew from Somalia in January last year. The same troops were repositioned in some neighboring countries.
Washington has also reduced its airstrikes against the leaders of al-Shabaab, despite continued attacks by the terrorist group in all parts of the African country.
In Feb. 2022, Somali Air Force Commander, Gen. Mahmud Sheikh Ali, implored Washington to help his country build its air force.
This came on the sidelines of Ali’s participation in a meeting of air force commanders in Africa.
Gen. Townsend warned against what he described as the ‘growing’ security threat in Africa.
He added that the threat posed by al-Shabaab had increased in the past 12 months, citing the lack of pressure on the movement over the past year as a reason for this increasing threat.
Gen. Townsend added that the cessation of the military operations of the African Union Mission in Somalia and the Covid-19 pandemic also gave the terrorist group the chance to become stronger.