THE latest US drone strike that killed 13 al-Shabaab militants, northwest of Kismayo on December 24, was, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the 34th in 2017, which compares to 15 for 2016 and 11 for 2015 and includes a strike on a militant training camp in November that killed 100 people.
The increased rate of drone strikes is even more marked in Yemen, where US President Donald Trump has overseen a threefold increase from his predecessor, all in the name of the “war on terror”. Ironically, the latest strike in Somalia came as the Somali government officially took back control of its own airspace from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), 27 years after the fall of the central government in 1991.
The move marked a symbolic milestone for the administration of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. Nine months into his tenure, in mid-October, Farmajo faced the deadliest attack in the country’s history, blamed on al-Shabaab, that killed more than 500 people at a busy Mogadishu intersection.
The African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, meanwhile, has begun a gradual drawdown that will see the phasing out of the 22,000-strong multinational force by the end of 2020.
It waits to be seen if Trump will keep up the intensity of the drone strikes in 2018.