Somalia–United States relations
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Somalia's then socialist government abandoned alliances with its former partner the Soviet Union due to fallout over the Ogaden War. Because the Soviet Union had close relations with both the Somali government and Ethiopia's then new communist Dergue regime, they were forced to choose one side to commit to. The Soviet shift in support to Ethiopia motivated the Siad Barre government to seek allies elsewhere. It eventually settled on the Soviet Unions' Cold War rival, the United States. The US had been courting the Somali government for some time on account of Somalia's strategic position at the mouth of the Bab el Mandeb gateway to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Somalia's initial friendship with the Soviet Union and later military support by the United States enabled it to build the largest army on the continent.
After the collapse of the Barre government and the start of the Somali Civil War in the early 1990s, the US embassy in Mogadishu closed down. However, the American government never formally severed diplomatic ties with Somalia, leading the UN-sanctioned multinational Unified Task Force (UNITAF) in southern Somalia. Following the establishment of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004, the U.S. also acknowledged and supported the internationally recognized TFG as the country's national governing body. It likewise engaged Somalia's regional administrations, such as Puntland and Somaliland, to ensure broad-based inclusion in the peace process.
The Federal Government of Somalia was established on August 20, 2012, concurrent with the end of the TFG's interim mandate. It represents the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war. On September 10, 2012, the new Federal Parliament also elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the incumbent President of Somalia. The United States government subsequently released a press statement felicitating Mohamud on his victory, and promised to continue partnering with the Somali authorities.
In January 2013, the U.S. announced that it was set to exchange diplomatic notes with the new central government of Somalia, re-establishing official ties with the country for the first time in 20 years. According to the Department of State, the decision was made in recognition of the significant progress that the Somali authorities had achieved on both the political and war fronts. The move is expected to grant the Somali government access to new sources of development funds from American agencies as well as international bodies like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, thereby facilitating the ongoing reconstruction process.
At the behest of the Somali and American federal governments, among other international actors, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 2093 during its 6 March 2013 meeting to suspend the 21-year arms embargo on Somalia. The endorsement officially lifts the purchase ban on light weapons for a provisional period of one year, but retains certain restrictions on the procurement of heavy arms such as surface-to-air missiles, howitzers and cannons. On April 9, 2013, the U.S. government likewise approved the provision of defense articles and services by the American authorities to the Somali Federal Government. At the request of the Somali authorities and AMISOM, the U.S. military in late 2013 also established a small team of advisers in Mogadishu to provide consultative and planning support to the allied forces.
Trade and partnerships
The United States has continued to be one of the main suppliers of armaments to the Somali National Army (SNA). In June 2009, the reconstituted SNA received 40 tonnes worth of arms and ammunition from the U.S. government to assist it in combating the Islamist insurgency within southern Somalia. The U.S. administration also pledged more military equipment and material resources to help the Somali authorities firm up on general security.
Additionally, the two countries engage in minor trade and investment. Somalia exports legumes, grain baking-related commodities, donated products and machinery to the United States. The U.S. in turn exports precious stones and low-value shipments to Somalia.
Somalia maintains an embassy in Washington, D.C.. The diplomatic mission is led by Ambassador Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. In addition, the United States maintains a non-resident diplomatic mission in Nairobi for Somalia and its constituent autonomous regions, including Somaliland.
The Somaliland region also has a Liaison Office in Washington, D.C.. As of 2010, its representative is Dr. Sa'ad Shiek Osman Noor.
In June 2014, in what she described as a gesture of the deepening relations between Washington and Mogadishu and faith in Somalia's stabilization efforts, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman announced that the United States would soon name a new ambassador to Somalia. The representative will be the first official U.S. envoy to the country in two decades.
- Oliver Ramsbotham, Tom Woodhouse, Encyclopedia of international peacekeeping operations, (ABC-CLIO: 1999), p.222.
- Somalia as a Military Target
- The US Dual Track Policy Towards Somalia
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- US gives Somalia about 40 tons of arms, ammunition
- U.S. pledges increased military support to Somalia
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- History of Somalia - U.S. relations
- United States Virtual Presence Post Somalia
- Somali - U.S. Relations from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives