Somalia leader plans talks with Shabaab, says US commander

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Somalia (D. M. Network) – Somalia’s president is trying to force Al-Shabaab to negotiate a political settlement with his government, the commander of US forces in Africa said on Tuesday.

“Somalis are going to need to decide for themselves what the arrangement will be at the end of the day,” Gen Thomas Waldhauser, head of the US Africa Command (Africom), told members of Congress.

He said Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, popularly known as Farmajo, is aiming to “beat back Al-Shabaab to the point where defections, especially of leadership, become the order of the day and some type of negotiated settlement with the federal government probably takes place.”

Most insurgencies end in such a manner, Gen Walhauser noted in an exchange with the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

But an Africom “posture statement” submitted to the US Congress on Tuesday notes in regard to Somalia that “while some high-profile defections have occurred, only a small number of fighters have actually defected.”

Gen Waldhauser counselled patience as intensified US firepower is combined with gradually heightened effectiveness on the part of Somalia’s federal government.