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America’s Other Endless War in Somalia

Published: January 20, 2019
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<i>Image Source: <a href='https://picryl.com/media/a-marine-colonel-addresses-with-the-aid-of-an-interpreter-a-group-of-somalis-6a76dc'>The U.S. National Archives</a></i>
Image Source: The U.S. National Archives

25 years after Black Hawk Down, US troops still fighting...

...

America’s war against al-Shabaab is one of the longest-running conflicts in U.S. history, simmering quietly for a dozen years in the desert landscape of the Horn of Africa. It has proven a frustrating mission with wins but no victory, setbacks but no defeat.

Its limitations were apparent just this week, when al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an 18-hour siege that left at least 21 victims—including one American—and five attackers dead at a hotel-and-office complex in Nairobi, Kenya.

Somalia is one in a series of American wars unleashed by the Sept. 11 attacks, from Afghanistan and Syria to Niger and Yemen. On any given day, across a swath of Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, hundreds of U.S. troops might find themselves dropping bombs on or exchanging gunfire with any number of armed Islamist organizations—al-Shabaab, Islamic State, the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda’s branches in the Maghreb or the Arabian Peninsula.

They are sprawling, Whac-A-Mole conflicts, often fought by elite commando units, and often hidden from public view by successive administrations wary of testing the public’s tolerance for unending war and surprising casualties in far-off lands

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