US President Donald Trump loves signing executive orders. During his first year in office, he has signed dozens of controversial orders on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from national security to trade.
Some of these executive orders, such as the ones on the Muslim travel ban and the Mexican border wall, received a lot of media attention and triggered protests around the world. But many other decisions by the president, causing death and destruction in faraway places likeSomalia, went considerably unnoticed.
Only weeks after taking office, Trump signed a directive declaring parts of Somalia an “area of active hostilities”. This declaration relaxed some of the rules aimed at preventing civilian casualties when the US military carries out counterterrorism strikes in Somalia.
The Pentagon claimed that this order expanded its targeting authority “to defeat al-Shabab in Somalia” in partnership with the African Unionand Somali forces. But, in practice, what this order did was little more than allow US soldiers to “kill at will” and with impunity within the borders of Somalia.