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US "not happy" with the make-up of the new Somalia cabinet - sources

FILE: US ambassador Larry Andre [L] meets with PM Hamza Abdi Barre [R] in Mogadishu, Somalia.

WASHINGTON, US - The United States of America is disappointed with the nomination of former Al-Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow as a minister and is concerned about the negative impact that might have on the congressional support, credible sources told Garowe Online.

The US Patriot Act Leahy vetting policy prevents the United States from supporting any government with ties to terrorism and violation of human rights. The law will significantly see Somalia's new government get sidelined on critical funding and support from Washington.

The United States has been a major stakeholder in terms of sponsoring the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa nation by supporting the training and equipping of Danab Special forces who are critical in the Al-Shabaab war besides helping the country tackle the humanitarian crisis.

"It will be impossible for the Somali government to receive financial and military support from the United States because that will violate US federal law," added the sources who do not want to be named in this article.

Somalia technically falls in this category given that Al-Shabaab is dominant in the country and has been expanding territories both in Ethiopia and Kenya. Last week, the militants stormed Ethiopia from Ato town causing a major security scare but the situation has since been contained.

Multiple sources have also confided to Garowe Online in confidence that the US government is very concerned about the makeup of the new Somali cabinet including ex-terrorist. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre appointed 26 ministers last week.

Additionally, the US administration is not happy with the renomination of another in the cabinet, with sources arguing that Washington views him as incompetent and corrupt given his past records while serving in ex-governments.

The concerns come just over two months after Somalia's parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president, thus effectively ending the reigns of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed better known as Farmajo, who had failed in local and foreign policy.

Should the new policy get affected, it's likely to dent the efforts of Hassan Sheikh to fight terrorism both ideologically and through military efforts. The new president also promised to ensure Al-Shabaab's source of funding is tamed.

The US had dispatched hundreds of special soldiers to Somalia almost a year after their unprecedented exit and it's not clear if the latest policy will also affect their presence in the country. The US Africa Command has been essential in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

Reports done by the United Nations indicated once the US withdrew its troops from Somalia and with subsequent minimal funding, the Al-Shabaab militants gained ground, especially in rural central and southern Somalia.

The terror group has been a thorn in the flesh of the federal government of Somalia. Analysts argue that Hassan Sheikh may have pushed for the inclusion of Mukhtar Robow in the cabinet as minister for Endowment and Religious Affairs as an indication of fighting the group ideologically.

Robow served as Al-Shabaab deputy leader before renouncing the group's ideology but his efforts to join politics in 2018 were blocked by Farmajo as he tried to run for the Southwest presidency. Before his nomination to the cabinet, he had been in house detention for the last three years.


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