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US re-establishes permanent diplomatic mission in Somalia for first time in 27 years

US re-establishes permanent diplomatic mission in Somalia for first time in 27 years

United States government has decided to re-establish a "permanent diplomatic presence" in Somalia for the first time in 27 years.

The U.S. closed its Somalia embassy in January 1991 as the country collapsed into civil war, with the military airlifting out the ambassador and others.

The U.S. formally recognized Somalia's new federal government in 2013 but has based its diplomatic mission in the capital of neighbouring Kenya.

Somalia Problem

At present, US forces are partnering with the United Nations-backed African Union Mission in Somalia, which aims to counter the threat from al-Shabab militants.

Despite losing much territory in recent years, the al-Qaeda-linked extremists have continued to pose a real threat to Somalia's stability with deadly attacks.

Al Shahab in Somalia

Al-Shabab means The Youth in Arabic.

It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia's now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.

It is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

Al-Shabab advocates the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis.

It has imposed a strict version of Sharia in areas under its control, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.

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