All US soldiers are Republicans

Trump has almost all soldiers withdrawn from Somalia, US troops remain stationed in Germany

Washington - US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of almost all American soldiers from the East African crisis country Somalia. The US Department of Defense announced in Washington on Friday that the withdrawal should take place by January 15, a few days before Trump's end of office. The elected head of government had previously announced a withdrawal of US soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Around 700 US soldiers are currently stationed in Somalia, helping the local security authorities in the fight against the Al-Shabaab militia affiliated with Al Qaeda. The mission is considered to be one of the cornerstones in the US strategy to push back Islamist terrorist groups around the world. The remaining US troops would be in the capital Mogadishu, said a representative from the US Department of Defense, who did not want to be named.

Rare agreement

Previously, the US Congress had put Trump's planned troop withdrawal from Germany on hold: Democrats and Republicans agreed on a draft law for the defense budget on Friday night, which de facto blocks what the elected president wanted to enforce before the end of his term in office .

According to this, the contingent of 34,500 US soldiers stationed in Germany may only be reduced if the Pentagon first informs Parliament in detail about the consequences of a reduction and demonstrates that a partial withdrawal would be in the national interest of the USA. The transfer of troops from Germany could begin at the earliest 120 days later.

In practice, it boils down to Trump's plans becoming obsolete. Joe Biden is sworn in as president on January 20th, and it is known that he does not believe in his predecessor's plans. Foreign minister-designate Antony Blinken, for example, spoke of a "foolish" and "malicious" decision that would do nothing other than weaken NATO, help Russian President Vladimir Putin and harm Germany, "our most important ally in Europe". In addition, money is wasted if existing structures are dismantled and then rebuilt in Belgium or Italy.

Aggressive Moscow

Protest had also grown loud among the ranks of the Republicans. Under the leadership of security expert Mac Thornberry, 22 Conservative MPs advised against the move in a letter in June. For one thing, they argued, he would encourage Russia to act aggressively. On the other hand, it would mean that in the future significantly fewer GIs than before could be ordered to bases around the globe via the Germany hub.

Critics of Trump had repeatedly emphasized that the US presence was indispensable for logistical reasons. Supporters of the president, on the other hand, welcomed the withdrawal as a component of a foreign policy that provides for remote interventions only in extreme emergencies.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is now tying Trump's hands, will likely be voted on next week. The law regulates how much money is available. After a compromise that Democrats and Republicans agreed in tough negotiations in both chambers of Congress, it will be around $ 740 billion.

Also consequences in South Korea

Not only with a view to Germany, but also to South Korea, the amendment makes possible withdrawal plans subject to conditions. The defense minister - possibly it will soon be a minister - has to justify a possible reduction in armed forces in the East Asian country 90 days before it begins in parliament. 28,500 American soldiers are currently stationed in South Korea, although Trump had repeatedly given the government in Seoul the choice of either paying more for the protective umbrella or of doing without it altogether.

According to a sketch submitted in July by Mark Esper, the Pentagon chief who has since been dismissed, the USA wanted to withdraw around 12,000 soldiers from Germany. 5400 were to be relocated to other European countries, mainly to Belgium and Italy, and the rest to return to their homeland. Critics had noted that both Belgium and Italy's defense spending per capita is lower than that of the Federal Republic. (Frank Herrmann from Washington December 4th, 2020)