Somalia - US Relations
The United States established diplomatic relations with Somalia in 1960, following its constituent parts' independence from British and Italian administration, respectively. A 1969 coup replaced Somalia's elected government with military rule that reflected both ideological and economic dependence on the Soviet Union. Following war with Ethiopia in the 1970s, Somalia began turning toward the West, including the United States, for international support, military equipment, and economic aid. Civil war in the 1980s led to the collapse of Somalia's central government in 1991.
Following this, various groupings of Somali factions, sometimes supported by outside forces, sought to control the national territory (or portions thereof) and fought one another. Although the United States never formally severed diplomatic relations with Somalia, the U.S. Embassy in Somalia was closed in 1991.
The U.S. Embassy closed on January 5, 1991, and all U.S. personnel were withdrawn after the collapse of the central Somali government; however, the United States did not sever diplomatic relations with Somalia. Through the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the United States maintained regular dialogue with transitional governments and other key stakeholders in Somalia.
From 1992-94, the United States took part in operations that aimed to provide assistance to Somalis. Numerous efforts at mediation and reconciliation were attempted over the years, and a transitional government was established in 2004. In 2012, Somalia completed its political transition with the election of a new federal parliament and speaker, the national constituent assembly's adoption of a provisional constitution, the election of a new president, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and the naming of a new prime minister and cabinet.
On 17 January 2013, the United States recognized the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). Subsequently, in July 2014, the United States welcomed Ambassador Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke to Washington, D.C. as the first Somali ambassador to the U.S. in over two decades.
U.S. foreign policy objectives in Somalia are to promote political and economic stability, prevent the use of Somalia as a haven for international terrorism, and alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by years of conflict, drought, flooding, and poor governance. The United States is committed to helping Somalia's government strengthen democratic institutions, improve stability and security, and deliver results for the Somali people.
Since 2013, the Federal Government of Somalia has made progress establishing government institutions, negotiating relationships with regional authorities, and supporting community stabilization. The United States supports the Somali government as it implements “Vision 2016,” the Somali-led state-building agenda for completing a federal state-formation process, holding a constitutional referendum, and preparing for democratic elections.
The United States also has welcomed the African Union Mission in Somalia's (AMISOM) success in driving the al-Shabaab terrorist organization out of strategically important population centers, and has underscored the continued U.S. commitment to support AMISOM and the Somali national forces in their responsibility of extending security throughout Somalia.
The United States has provided humanitarian assistance in Somalia to address the problems of drought, famine, and refugees. U.S. development assistance in Somalia has supported the establishment of a post-transitional national government working to foster a unified Somali state in the long term. U.S. assistance also aims to focus on the more stable areas of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous state of Puntland. The United States works closely with other donor partners and international organizations to support social services and the development of an effective and representative security sector, including military, police, and justice sector, while supporting ongoing African Union peacekeeping efforts.
The United States had not held an official military relationship with Somalia since the early 1990s, in large part because there was not a U.S.-recognized government of Somalia until 2013. In light of the January 2013 recognition of the Federal Government of Somalia, the Department of Defense, in cooperation and close coordination with the Department of State (DoS), seeks to develop a normalized military-to-military relationship with the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF). Both agencies intend to work together in assisting Somalia to build the operational capacity of the SNSF and support the development of Somali security institutions.
The U.S. formally recognized the current Somali government in 2013. In September 2015, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud appointed a new ambassador to the U.S., Ahmed Awad.
For the first time in almost a quarter-century, Somalia has an embassy in the United States. The Somali government reopened its embassy in Washington at a ceremony November 18, 2015 attended by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Somalia’s Foreign Minister Abdisalam Omer.
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