MOGADISHU, Somalia –United States has expressed concern over the Somalia’s decision to expel the UN ambassador to Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, after he questioned the detention of a former al-Shabab leader contesting regional elections.
Eliot L. Engel, ranking Member House Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, says he expressed concern over the expulsion of UN envoy to Somalia.
“Amidst deteriorating governance conditions and a stalemated battle against #AlShabaab, the expulsion of UN Envoy Nicholas Haysom compounds my concerns about the direction in which Somalia is headed”, he said.
The United States is a close backer of Somalia’s federal government and has largely refrained from criticizing it, though it did sign on to a letter expressing concern over Robow’s arrest and the subsequent crackdown.
Al-Shabab once controlled most of southern Somalia, but most cities have been taken back by an African Union-led force that is about 20,000 strong. In the mostly rural areas it now controls, the al-Qaeda-aligned group imposes a strict version of Islamic law.
It has carried out countless kidnappings and suicide bombings in the country over the past decade.
There are 500 U.S. troops in the country, mostly Special Operations forces, assigned to train Somali soldiers. The United States also carries out frequent airstrikes against al-Shabab, most recently in December, when 62 fighters were killed.