Foreign relations of Somalia
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
- 1 Northeast Africa
- 2 Europe
- 3 East Asia
- 4 Gulf region
- 5 Other regions
- 6 International organization membership
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 External links
As the headquarters of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development regional body, Djibouti has been an active participant in the Somali peace process. It hosted the Arta conference in 2000, as well as the 2008-2009 talks between the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, which led to the formation of a coalition government. In 2011, Djibouti joined the African Union Mission to Somalia. Following the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in 2012, a Djibouti delegation also attended the inauguration ceremony of Somalia's new president.
Relations between the peoples of Somalia and Ethiopia stretch back to antiquity, to a common origin. The Ethiopian region is one of the proposed homelands of the Horn of Africa's various Afro-Asiatic communities.
During the Middle Ages, Somali Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (Ahmad Gurey or Gragn) led a Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuh al-Habash), which brought three-quarters of the Christian Ethiopian Empire under the power of the Muslim Adal Sultanate. With an army mainly composed of Somalis, Many historians trace the origins of tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia to this war.
In the 1960s and 1970s, a territorial dispute over the Ogaden region led to various armed confrontations between the Somalian and Ethiopian militaries. The tensions culminated in the Ogaden War, which saw the Somali army capture most of the disputed territory by September 1977, before finally being expelled by a coalition of communist forces.
With changes in leadership in the early 1990s brought on by the start of the Somali Civil War and Ethiopian Civil War, respectively, relations between the Somali and Ethiopian authorities entered a new phase of military cooperation against the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) rebel group and its more radical successor Al-Shabaab. In October 2011, a coordinated multinational operation began against Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia; the Ethiopian military eventually joined the Transitional Federal Government-led mission the following month.
The Federal Government of Somalia was later established on August 20, 2012, representing the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war. The following month, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected as the new Somali government's first President, with the Ethiopian authorities welcoming his selection and newly appointed Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn attending Mohamud's inauguration ceremony.
Relations between the territories of present-day Egypt and Somalia stretch back to antiquity. In the Middle Ages and early modern era, the various Somali Sultanates also maintained close relations with their counterparts in Egypt.
During the ensuing colonial period, Egypt and Somalia kept close ties through the UN delegate to Somalia Kamal El Din Salah, who supported the territorial integrity of the Somali territories. Upon independence of the Somali Republic in 1960, Egypt was among the first nations to recognize the nascent country. It subsequently invested heavily in the education sector, with Cairo's Al-Azhar University leading scholastic and Muslim missions in Mogadishu, among other areas. In 1969, Somalia and Egypt were among the founding members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Both nations are also members of the League of Arab States.
After the start of the civil war in Somalia in 1991, Egypt maintained diplomatic relations with the Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government, and supported their state-building initiatives. As part of the International Contact Group, the Egyptian authorities participated in various global summits in support of the Somalian peace process, including the Khartoum Conference in 2006, the Djibouti Conference in 2008, and the Cairo Conference in 2010. It also organized diplomatic training for Somali government officials in conjunction with the Somali Institute for Diplomatic Studies.
The subsequent establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012 was welcomed by the Egyptian authorities, who re-affirmed Egypt's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Relations between Kenya and Somalia have historically been tense. Agitations over self-determination in the Somali-inhabited Northern Frontier District culminated in the Shifta War during the 1960s. Although the conflict ended in a cease-fire, Somalis in the region still identify and maintain close ties with their kin in Somalia.
In October 2011, a coordinated operation between the Somali military and the Kenyan military began against the Al-Shabaab group of insurgents in southern Somalia. The mission was officially led by the Somali army, with the Kenyan forces providing a support role. In early June 2012, Kenyan troops were formally integrated into AMISOM.
During the Siad Barre administration, Somalia and Denmark strengthened cooperation. The Danish International Development Agency agreed to provide a $1.4 million loan toward the development of Somalia's northern fisheries industry. Additionally, the Somalian and Danish foreign ministries signed a loan agreement in 1981, wherein 45 million DKK ($8,284,410.00 USD) was issued to Somalia to finance imports of Danish capital goods, as well as local cost expenditures and purchases of Danish capital equipment and services.
In September 1992, Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann Jensen and other senior officials visited southern Somalia, one of the first foreign delegations to do so since the start of the civil war the year before. Although the Danish embassy in Mogadishu closed down operations, the Danish authorities in the ensuing years maintained relations with Somalia's newly established Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government.
The subsequent establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012 was welcomed by the Danish authorities, who re-affirmed Denmark's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty. In December 2013, the Danish government appointed Geert Aagaard Andersen as the new Danish Ambassador to Somalia, the first in twenty years. Andersen presented his credentials to Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at a ceremony in Mogadishu.
Bilateral relations between France and Somalia were established shortly after Somalia's independence. The French government opened an embassy in Mogadishu, and its Somalian counterpart likewise maintained an embassy in Paris. The French embassy later closed down operations in June 1993, shortly after the start of the civil war in Somalia. In the ensuing years, France maintained diplomatic relations with the Somali Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government. It also supported local peace initiatives by the European Union and international community.
The subsequent establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012 was welcomed by the French authorities, who re-affirmed France's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Following a significantly improved security situation, the Government of France in January 2014 appointed Remi Marechaux as the new French ambassador to Somalia. Ambassador Marechaux concurrently presented his credentials to the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at a ceremony in Mogadishu.
In terms of administration, Italy first gained a foothold in Somalia through the signing of various pacts and agreements in the late 19th century with the ruling Somali Majeerteen Sultanate and Sultanate of Hobyo, led by King Osman Mahamuud and Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid, respectively. In 1936, the acquired territory, dubbed Italian Somaliland, was integrated into Africa Orientale Italiana as part of the Italian Empire. This would last until 1941, during World War II. Italian Somaliland then came under British administration until 1949, when it became a United Nations trusteeship, the Trust Territory of Somalia, under Italian administration. On July 1, 1960, the Trust Territory of Somalia united as scheduled with the briefly extant State of Somaliland (the former British Somaliland) to form the Somali Republic.
Although most Italian Somalis left the territory after independence, Somalia's relations with Italy remained strong in the following years and through the ensuing civil war period. The Federal Government of Somalia was later established on August 20, 2012. Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi welcomed the new administration, and re-affirmed Italy's continued support for the Somali authorities.
The first ever diplomatic relations between Serbia and Somalia were established on 3 February 2015 when the Serbian Ambassador, Ivan Zikovic, presented his credentials to the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu. Serbia intends to become active in certain development sectors such as education, science, agriculture, vocational training, and health.
Somalia–Turkey relations date back to the Middle Ages and the ties between the Adal Sultanate and the Ottoman Empire. Prior to the breakout of the civil war in Somalia in 1991, Turkey maintained an embassy in Mogadishu. It later discontinued operations due to security reasons. In 2011, the Turkish government announced that it would reopen its embassy in Somalia. The Somali federal government also maintains an embassy in Ankara, Turkey's capital.
During the drought of 2011, Turkey contributed over $201 million to the humanitarian relief efforts in the impacted parts of Somalia. Following a greatly improved security situation in Mogadishu in mid-2011, the Turkish government also re-opened its foreign embassy with the intention of more effectively assisting in the post-conflict development process. It was among the first foreign administrations to resume formal diplomatic relations with Somalia after the civil war.
Additionally, Turkish Airlines became the first long-distance international commercial airline in two decades to land at Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport. As of March 2012, the flag carrier offers two flights a week from the Somali capital to Istanbul.
In partnership with the Somali government, Turkish officials have also launched various development and infrastructure projects in Somalia. They have assisted in the building of several hospitals, and helped renovate and rehabilitate the Aden Adde International Airport and the National Assembly building, among other initiatives.
Somalia–United Kingdom relations date back to the 19th century. In 1884, Britain established the British Somaliland protectorate in present-day northern Somalia after signing successive treaties with the then ruling Somali Sultans, such as Mohamoud Ali Shire of the Warsangali Sultanate. In 1900, the Somali religious leader Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan ("Mad Mullah")'s Dervish forces began a twenty-year resistance movement against British troops. This military campaign eventually came to an end in 1920, after Britain aerially bombarded the Dervish capital of Taleh.
British Somaliland became independent on 26 June 1960 as the State of Somaliland, and the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland) followed suit five days later. On July 1, 1960, the two territories united to form the Somali Republic.
After the collapse of the Somali central government and the start of the civil war in 1991, the UK embassy in Mogadishu closed down. However, the British government never formally severed diplomatic ties with Somalia. Britain acknowledged and supported the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) as the country's national governing body. It also engaged Somalia's smaller regional administrations, such as Puntland and Somaliland, to ensure broad-based inclusion in the peace process. In 2012, the British authorities additionally organized the London Conference on Somalia to coordinate the international community's support for the interim Somali government.
Following the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in mid-2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the new administration and re-affirmed Britain's continued support for the Somali authorities. On 25 April 2013, the UK also became the first Western country to re-open its embassy in Somalia, with British First Secretary of State William Hague attending the opening ceremony. Harriet Mathews was appointed British Ambassador to Somalia in 2015, and as of January 2017 has since been replaced by David Concar.
Prior to 1991 and the start of the civil war, the Somali authorities maintained bilateral relations with the government of Japan. The Japanese administration subsequently pledged development funds through various international organizations. With the formation of the Federal Government of Somalia in 2012, the Japanese government re-established formal diplomatic ties with the Somali authorities. In 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also announced that Japan would resume direct assistance to Somalia, particularly in the areas of security, industrial development, and bilateral trade and investment.
In January 2014, Japan appointed Tatsushi Terada as the new Japanese Ambassador to Somalia, replacing Atoshisa Takata. Ambassador Terada concurrently presented his credentials to the Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at a ceremony in Mogadishu.
Diplomatic relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (commonly known as North Korea) and Somalia were formally established on 13 April 1967. This late-1950s to 1960s period was when North Korea had first declared autonomous diplomacy.
During the Somali Democratic Republic, relations with North Korea were close, due to shared ideals and geopolitical interests. Both countries formally adhered to anti-imperialism and Marxism–Leninism, and were aligned with the Soviet Union in the context of the wider Cold War. The Supreme Revolutionary Council established relations with the DPRK in 1970.
Over the following years, military cooperation intensified, with North Korea training and equipping the Somali Armed Forces. Additionally, due to a resentment against Ethiopia over the country's involvement in the Korean War, North Korean advisers trained pro-Somalia guerrilla forces active in the Ethiopian–Somali conflict. This changed considerably after the communist Derg came to power in 1974, causing an eventual realignment of Soviet support towards Ethiopia. North Korea followed suit, and provided military aid to Ethiopia against Somalia during the Ethio-Somali War.
As of March 2014, North Korea and Somalia still officially maintain diplomatic relations according to the National Committee on North Korea.
South Korea officially recognizes and maintains diplomatic ties with the Federal Government of Somalia. In May 2013, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud accepted the credentials of the new South Korean Ambassador to Mogadishu, Kim Chan-Woo, the first diplomatic representative of an Asian Pacific country to work in Somalia in many years. Chan-Woo also announced that South Korea would re-open its embassy in the Somali capital. Additionally, the Ambassador indicated that his administration would support the Somali government's ongoing reconstruction efforts, in the process making use of South Korea's own experience in post-conflict rehabilitation and development gained from the Korean War. He also asserted that his administration would once again launch agricultural and technical projects in Somalia, as the South Korean authorities had done in the past.
People's Republic of China
Relations between the territories of present-day Somalia and China date back to antiquity, when communities in both regions engaged in commercial exchanges.
During the Cold War period, the Somali government maintained active relations with its Chinese counterpart. The Somali authorities campaigned for an end to China's diplomatic isolation and supported instead its entry into the United Nations.
In January 1991, the Chinese embassy in Mogadishu closed down operations due to the start of the civil war in Somalia. Despite the departure of most Chinese officials, the two countries maintained a small trading relationship in the ensuing years. Total trade volume in 2002 was US$3.39 million, with Somalia exporting US$1.56 million of goods to China and importing $1.83 million.
From 2000 to 2011, approximately seven Chinese development projects were launched in Somalia. These initiatives included $6 million in economic assistance, donation of anti-malaria drugs, and $3 million in debt relief.
In July 2007, the Chinese state-owned oil company CNOOC also signed an oil exploration agreement with the Somali government over the north-central Mudug province, situated in the autonomous Puntland region.
Following the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in mid-2012, the Chinese authorities reaffirmed their support for the Somali government and called on the international community to strengthen its commitment to the Somali peace process. China's Permanent Representative to the UN, Li Baodong, also emphasized his administration's support for the Somali federal government's stabilization plan, including the latter's efforts at "implementing an interim Constitution, carrying out its six-point plan, strengthening institutional capacity, exercising government functions and extending effective authority over all its national territory."
In August 2013, follow a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, Somalia's Foreign Minister Fowziya Yusuf Haji Adan announced that the Somali authorities looked forward to cooperation with the Chinese government in the energy, infrastructure, national security and agriculture sectors, among others. Wang also praised the traditional friendship between both nations and re-affirmed China's commitment to the Somali peace process. In September 2013, both governments signed an official cooperation agreement in Mogadishu as part of a five-year national recovery plan in Somalia. The pact will see the Chinese authorities reconstruct several major infrastructural landmarks in the Somalian capital and elsewhere, including the National Theatre, a hospital, and the Mogadishu Stadium, as well as the road between Galkayo and Burao in northern Somalia.
In October 2014, the Chinese government also officially re-opened its embassy in Mogadishu. In December 2014, Wei Hongtian presented his credentials to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Somalia. He is the first such envoy after the reopening of the Chinese embassy in Mogadishu. Foreign Minister of Somalia Abdirahman Duale Beyle and Ambassador Wei subsequently held a joint press conference, wherein the officials pledged to further strengthen bilateral ties. As part of the local reconstruction process, Wei also indicated that the Chinese authorities were slated to implement various development projects in Somalia.
The State of Qatar and the Republic of Somalia maintain good relations. In March 2015, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke led talks with the Prime Minister of Qatar, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The gathering focused on strengthening investment, commerce and governance ties between both territories, with an emphasis on stabilization initiatives. It concluded with a signed cooperative agreement in the civil aviation and education sectors. According to Sharmarke, the treaty aims to accelerate the ongoing reconstruction and development process in Somalia and to buttress local job creation. Among the agreement's stipulations, Qatar Airways is scheduled to begin making flights to the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.
Saudi Arabia had no diplomatic or consular representation in Somalia since Somalia’s central government broke down in 1991. Diplomatic ties were not severed though, and on 18 January 2017 Saudi-Arabia’s first ambassador to Somalia since the 1990s, Dr Mohamed Abdi-kani Al-Khayat presented his credentials to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu. During the ceremony the Ambassador informed that Saudi-Arabia would support building the Somali Army, establish a rehabilitation center for defected militias from Al-Shabaab and for refugees returning back home.
In recent years bilateral relations between the two countries centered around a number of issues: the position of Somali migrants in Saudi Arabia, the position of Shia Islam in Somalia, and the export of Somali livestock. In 2014 Saudi Arabia arrested some 41.000 Somali migrants and held them in detention centers in substandard conditions before deporting them to Mogadishu. Despite being one of the richest countries, Saudi Arabia left payment for assisting these deportees to the international community that had to issue emergency appeals to donors. The harsh mass expulsions led to an outcry from human rights organisations.
In January 2016, Somalia received a pledge of aid for $50 million from Saudi Arabia on the very same day it announced it was cutting ties with Saudi's Shiite rival Iran, by expelling Iranian diplomats and closing an Iranian charity in Mogadishu -the Iman Khomeini Foundation- for "conducting activities beyond its mandate bent on compromising the country’s national security". The Somali government denied there was a link between its decision to break ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia's financial support, while the Saudi Foreign Ministry refused to comment.
United Arab Emirates
Relations between the territories of present-day Somalia and the United Arab Emirates stretch back to antiquity. During the Middle Ages and early modern period, the various Somali Sultanates also maintained close relations with other kingdoms across the Red Sea.
In 1969, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates were among the founding members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Both nations are also members of the League of Arab States. After the start of the civil war in Somalia in 1991, the UAE maintained diplomatic relations with the Somali Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government, and supported their government initiatives. The UAE has also officially supported the Puntland Maritime Police Force since the military body's formation in 2010.
The subsequent establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012 was welcomed by the Emirati authorities, who re-affirmed the UAE's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
In March 2014, Prime Minister of Somalia Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed began an official three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates to discuss strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two nations. During talks with UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential affairs Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Emirati authorities emphasized their commitment to the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction process in Somalia. They also pledged to assist in capacity building and the rehabilitation of government institutions.
Although relations between the modern-day territories of Somalia and Yemen stretch back to antiquity, the two countries formally established diplomatic ties on December 18, 1960. Both nations are also members of the Arab League.
Following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia in the 1990s, the Yemeni authorities maintained relations with Somalia's newly established Transitional National Government and its successor the Transitional Federal Government. The subsequent establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in August 2012 was also welcomed by the Yemeni authorities, who re-affirmed Yemen's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Relations between the modern-day territories of Somalia and Pakistan stretch back to antiquity. In 1969, Somalia and Pakistan were among the founding members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Somalia's relations with Pakistan remained strong in the following years and through the ensuing civil period, when Pakistan contributed to the UN peacekeeping operation in southern Somalia.
Following the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia in 2012, the Pakistani authorities welcomed the new administration, and re-affirmed Pakistan's continued support for Somalia's government, its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Additionally, Somalia maintains an embassy in Islamabad.
After the collapse of the Barre government and the start of the civil war in the early 1990s, the U.S. embassy in Mogadishu closed down. However, the American government never formally severed diplomatic ties with Somalia. The U.S. acknowledged and supported the internationally recognized, UN-backed Transitional Federal Government as the country's national governing body. It also engages Somalia's smaller regional administrations, such as Puntland and Somaliland, to ensure broad-based inclusion in the peace process.
As of 2011, the United States maintains a non-resident diplomatic mission for Somalia in Nairobi. In addition, the Somalia embassy in the U.S. until recently had as its ambassador-designate Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the former Prime Minister of Somalia.
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.
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. In February 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Foreign Service veteran Katherine Simonds Dhanani as the new Ambassador of the United States to Somalia. She is the first official U.S. envoy to the country in over two decades.
International organization membership
Other memberships include: ACP AfDB AFESD AL AMF CAEU ECA FAO G-77 IBRD ICAO ICRM IDA IDB IFAD IFC IFRCS IGAD ILO IMF IMO Intelsat Interpol IOC IOM ITU NAM OAU OIC UN UNCTAD UNESCO UNHCR UNIDO UPU WFTU WHO WIPO WMO
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