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President Joe Biden confirmed yesterday the US will redeploy hundreds of troops to Somalia, reversing former President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from the country in January 2021. The effort is meant to counter al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked Islamist militant group responsible for the 2020 fatal attack on a US base in Kenya.

The two nations have had a complex relationship in recent decades as Somalia struggled to recover from a civil war (see history). US and UN humanitarian efforts to stabilize the country ended after 19 troops were killed in a notorious failed 1993 operation, which inspired the novel and film “Black Hawk Down.” However, the US returned to Somalia in the early 2000s to fight al-Qaida cells, including al-Shabab. The US had about 700 troops in the country before they were relocated in 2021.

The news comes as Somalia’s parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president Sunday. He previously served as the country’s president from 2012 to 2017.