Jubaland president, US officials discuss political crisis in Somalia and counter-terrorism
KISMAYO, Somalia - Top US officials on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting with Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe in Kismayo on Wednesday, amid escalating tensions in Gedo, authorities said.
US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto and AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend visited the southern seaport city, a move is seen as a strategic approach to quell tensions.
According to a statement released by Jubaland presidency, the two sides discussed a wide range of issues, including ways to end the political standoff between the Federal State and FGS as well as how to de-escalate the tension in Gedo and intensify the war on Al-Shabab.
The federal government has been at loggerheads with member states, with the Jubaland crisis being the most recent threat to Somalia's security.
In a tweet, Jubaland state officials confirmed that security dominated the meeting, where Al-Shabaab menace was widely discussed
"They discussed partnership against Al-Shabab, a terrorist group and advancing peace and security in Somalia and region," read the tweet.
But the recent deployment of SNA troops to the Gedo region emerged as the urgent contemporary issue, with Jubaland protesting the move, a source told Garowe Online.
Over 700 Turkish-trained SNA troops were deployed in the Gedo region, causing tensions at Bardhere, Balad-Hawo and Dolow districts, as the two sides wrestle to control the area.
The source said: "Gedo standoff dominated the talks. Both parties agreed that the stalemate could give room for more unprecedented Al-Shabaab attacks."
Also, the US officials canvassed the strained relationship between Villa Somalia and Jubaland administration, a crisis that has threatened to further escalate tensions in the fragile nation.
Madobe and President Farmajo have not been in good terms, with the former accusing the latter of a plot to "muzzle federal states by imposing his loyalists".
Jubaland has borne the brunt of Al-Shabaab raids, with the militants taking control of strategic regions in Lower and Middle Juba, despite spirited efforts by the US to crush the militants.
Earlier, there were reports of clashes between Jubaland forces and militias loyal to Abdinasie Seeraar, but a source told Garowe Online that "there were no such clashes in Kismayo".
The officials visit Jubaland could curb possible clashes between Jubaland forces and SNA in Gedo, a region that I'd critical in the fight against Al-Shabaab.
Last week, Somalia threatened to invade Kenya, another critical player in the country's security, accusing it of "sponsoring Jubaland forces" by "harboring them in Mandera".
There were also rebuttals from Jubaland forces, who also threatened to respond by flushing out SNA - Somali National Army from Balad-Hawo and Dolow districts in Gedo region.