Somalia has rejected attempts by the People’s Democratic Republic of China to establish a military base as Beijing continues to knock on doors in Africa, a continent full of resources.
China has been competing for the market in Africa for the last decade, threatening to displace the United States, the traditional ally of many African countries. Still, Beijing has also been trying to expand its military presence in Africa in recent times.
Although the military presence is small, China has reached out to many countries, including Somalia, but it only remains in sections of Djibouti. On the other hand, America has close to 7,000 soldiers.
Last week, US Africa Command boss General Stephen Townsend confirmed that the Chinese were turned down by Somalis when they asked to be given the permit to construct a military base in Somalia.
There have been conversations between the two countries, but Somalia has stood its ground, further showing confidence in the US. He said this in an interview with the Voice of America.
“There are conversations between Chinese and Somalia governments that happen regularly. They discuss a lot of things. For example, they have discussed the army base. Somalis tell us they are our partners, and they also want a partnership with Chinese but not about the base,” he said.
The US withdrew soldiers from Somalia last year, but there has been pressure both in Pentagon and Senate to reinstate the soldiers in the country. There were close to 700 US soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation.
On Tuesday, Senate Armed Services Committee grilled US Africa Command leader General Stephen Townsend, who briefed the team about the latest situation in Somalia. In Somalia, US ambassador Larry Andre had noted that “Al-Shabaab is becoming more powerful.”
Townsend told senators he had given his chain of command advice on whether to redeploy to Somalia. While he would not specify his recommendation in a public setting, Townsend made clear he does not think the current arrangement of what he described as “commuting” to Somalia is working.
“It is not effective, inefficient, and puts our troops at greater risk,” he said.
Last year, Townsend told the committee that removing the soldiers from Somalia “introduced new layers of complexity and risk” to the U.S. mission there. He regretted that gains could be eroded quickly due to Al-Shabaab’s capability.
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