Somalia president visits Eritrea amid military operations against Al-Shabaab


ASMARA, Eritrea - President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud returned to Eritrea for the fourth time in one year, amid ongoing military mobilization against Al-Shabaab militants, who still control large swathes of rural central and southern Somalia, despite advancements made in the crackdown against the group. 

The president has been working closely with Eritrea on training and capacity building of the military, which is actively involved in the operations against the militants. The military is also working closely with the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] and the US Africa Command. 

According to the state media, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will be seeking to advance security and defense cooperation with Eritrea. The president will also be visiting troops training in Eritrea, who are set to be posted in the fight against Al-Shabaab. 

"President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud jetted to Eritrea, to boost defense and security ties by Eritrea. He also inspects Somali troops who are trained by Eritrea to fight terrorism and instability in the region," the state media reported.

The duration of the visit has not been disclosed but it comes at a crucial time for the remobilisations against al-Shabaab president Hassan Sheikh has been conducting in central Somalia. The operation targets Al-Shabaab hideouts in the Galgaduud, Mudug, and Hiiraan regions. 

Eritrea is training a significant number of Somali soldiers including some who were sent since December last year for special training. Those still being trained include navy cadets, and security officials within the federal government of Somalia confirmed. 

Isaias Afwerki, the president of Eritrea, has been supporting Somalia militarily, through training and equipment.  Besides Ethiopia, Uganda has also been training Somali soldiers, who have already been involved in the fight against Al-Shabaab in recent weeks. 

The government of Somalia has been working closely with neighboring nations in the Al-Shabaab war, with most of the countries contributing troops on the frontline. Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti had pledged to dispatch non-ATMIS troops for the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab.


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