Foreign Policy quotes Africa Center Deputy Director Bronwyn Bruton on the United States secretly operating drones from bases in Somalia:

But experts caution that the gains made by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which accelerated after the United Nations (UN) Security Council topped up the peace enforcement mission with an additional 4,000 Ethiopian troops after the Westgate Mall attack in 2013, have not degraded the al-Shabab threat as thoroughly as some have claimed. “Al-Shabab is simply retreating, conceding ground,” said Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. “They are not actually confronting AMISOM head-on anymore, which means that their forces and weapons are mostly intact. They have shifted from a conventional force to a pure terrorist one that is increasingly focusing its attention on attacks outside of Somalia, in Kenya, and elsewhere in the region.”

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The conditions under which Bancroft and other private military contractors operate, however, offer little in the way of transparency or safeguards against abuse. Vast swaths of Somalia are effectively lawless, and communications links between rural communities are weak. Neither feature of the terrain augers well for accountability. “Even the glossiest [private security companies] — think Blackwater back in the day — are prone to excesses of force,” said the Atlantic Council’s Bruton. “In the Somali context, those excesses are likely to go unreported, which makes abuse all the more likely.”

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