US to review support for Danab following clashes with Sufi militias in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia – US diplomat says Washington will reconsider its support for Danab, an elite unit in the Somali National Army [SNA], following the team’s decision to fight Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a [ASWJ], a moderate Sufi militia, which initially fought against Al-Shabaab militants.

Before falling out with the federal government, ASWJ was a close ally of the Americans and the SNA in the fight against Al-Shabaab. The emerging differences derailed the fight against the militants.

An official at the US Embassy in Mogadishu told VOA that the US does not take reports of fighting between Danab and ASWJ “lightly”. Already, the Sufi militia has withdrawn from the city of Guriel following the persuasion of the business community.

For years, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a has been a credible partner of the security forces in the fight against Al-Shabaab. Last week, the militia, which took control of the town of Guriel, was attacked by SNA and regional forces from Galmadug.

During the intense battle, a Danab commander, Major Abdilatif Ahmed Ali Fayfle, was among those killed in the fighting.

The source, who spoke confidently, said the United States had intelligence that Danab’s special forces participated in the duel. The official said support would be reviewed following this involvement.

“The United States is providing training and coordination of support to the units of the Danab Brigade of the Somali National Army to advance our common goal of defeating al-Shabab,” the official said. “Following this incident, we will review the support we provide to ensure that it is used appropriately and in accordance with US policy and objectives.”

So far, General Odowaa Yusuf Rageh, chief of the Somali Defense Force, could not be reached for comment. However, it is understood that the regional administration in Galmadug has requested reinforcements, forcing the federal government to deploy Danab in the area.

The United States has been a major financier of Danab’s forces, including, but not limited to, their training and equipment. The vision of supporting the special forces was to prepare them adequately in the fight against Al-Shabaab militants.

The official added that the United States was sympathetic to the affected families given that already more than 120 people have been killed. “We call on all parties to cease military operations and to engage in political dialogue for a peaceful resolution,” the official said.

ASWJ left Guriel on Monday evening following an intervention by local businessmen, leading to a total takeover by the Somali National Army. It is not clear whether the moderate Sufi militia will participate in the fight against al-Shabaab in the future.

AXADLETM

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