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Somalia president sacks special forces commander

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has sacked the commander of Special Forces [Danab] Major Ismail Abdimalik under unclear circumstances and appointed Maj. Ahmed Abdullahi 'Beryare' trained in the U.S. as his successor. 

Security experts warned the frequent replacements of the US-trained unit could derail the fight against Al-Shabaab, a group that has been wreaking havoc in the Horn of Africa nation for almost two decades.

No official reason has been given for Malik's dismissal, but it comes as a Somali leader faces growing criticism against the frequent military and security chiefs reshuffles amid no significant gains in the war on Al-Shabaab. 

Danab forces are trained by the US army under US Africa Command at the Balligodle Army Base and are key in spearheading delicate operations against the Al-Shabaab in central and southern Somalia, and have recorded significant gains in the past according to reports.

The forces usually engage in ground combats with the US helping in air surveillance according to army reports. The team has previously succeeded in thwarting Al-Shabaab raids especially those targeting army bases across the country, with the latest being at Janay Abdalla base in Jubaland.

And insiders say Major Ismael Abdimalik who has been in charge of the forces, has since been dismissed from the service, just after serving for less than a year. It's not clear why he was sacked but it's understood that he's been serving at the Ministry of Defense in recent days before his dismissal.

The army boss was considered one of the most consistent members of the service and played a key role in the rebuilding of the Somali National Army [SNA] which has been undergoing a major transformation for the past decade. He leaves as a general who gained numerous success against the Al-Shabaab militants.

For instance, he guided the army in capturing crucial strategic towns within Somalia especially in Lower Shebelle and parts of the Jubba region. Further, under his command, he managed to lead successful operations against Al-Shabaab which saw some of the senior commanders die.

For the last seven years, the Danab contingent has not enjoyed stability after having a total of seven commanders. It's unusual for the army to change commanders for a short period, something which could worry about Somalia's international partners, who finance the army.

Actually, it's Col. Ahmed Abdullahi Sheikh ‘Ahmed Danab’ who stayed as Danab commander for more than a year; all the others have been in charge of the brigade less time. The Ministry of Defense has rarely given reasons for the frequent replacements of the Special Forces commanders in the past seven years.

Here is the list of soldiers who have served as Danab commanders in the last seven years:

1. Col. Hassan 'Commandos' 2013-2014
2. Lt. Col. Yaqub Ahmed Siyaad 2014-2015
3. Col. Ahmed Abdullahi Sh. 'Ahmed Danab' 2016-2019
4. Maj. Abdirahman Omar 'Jeeniqaar', 2019-2020
5. Maj. Ismail Abdi Maalik 2020-2020
6. Maj. Ahmed Abdullahi 'Beryare', 2020-present

The reports also come amid reports that President Donald Trump has ordered for the withdrawal of American troops from Somalia. There are currently close to 600 soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation, and they have been instrumental in training and equipping the Somali National Army.