Somaliland: African government affected by Trump travel ban hires lobby firm


A small African government that was affected by the Trump administration’s original travel ban has hired a lobbying and public affairs firm in Washington.

Glover Park Group is working for the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland, a breakaway region that declared its independence from Somalia in 1991.

It is not, however, internationally recognized as a separate country and is still seeking that recognition.

New documents posted to the Justice Department website, and signed on Feb. 14, show that Glover Park Group will “act as an advisor to the foreign principal on communications and government relations matters” for Somaliland.

The services provided by the firm for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be a part of Somaliland’s bilateral relations with the United States, forms say.

One day before the contract with Glover Park Group appeared in government disclosure databases, the Somaliland government wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

In that letter, the government asked for an exemption from an executive order signed by President Trump temporarily banning travel from seven countries with Muslim-majority populations: Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Sudan and Somalia.

Trump is poised to rescind that order next week and issue a revised order that can stand up in court. The details are not yet known.

It is the second foreign government covered by the travel ban to turn to K Street lobbying firms in roughly as many weeks. Iraq hired Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck at the end of January, but the details of that contract were not specific either.

Somaliland, its foreign minister, Sa’ad Ali Shire, wrote, does not have “deteriorating conditions … [that] due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States” that are described by the order.

The breakaway region fought to obtain independence from Somalia and succeeded after the overthrow of Somali military dictator Siad Barre 26 years ago.

Now, it strives to maintain a peaceful reputation, especially in comparison to its Somali neighbor to the south, which is battling the extremist group al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaeda.

The autonomous region is not recognized as its own nation by any country in the world.

Somaliland has its own parliament and president, trained military and police forces, currency and flag. It also has a population of about 3.5 million people, according to the BBC.

There is also a boarding school in Somaliland that has sent dozens of students to high-profile American universities, including Harvard, Yale and MIT, in the last several years, according to CNN.

Students with Somaliland passports risk being banned from entry into the United States if Trump enacts a similar travel prohibition affecting the same seven countries.

An exception for Somaliland would show “that strong and responsible governance provides a foundation upon which America’s partners can secure progress for their citizens and contribute to shared international objectives,” reads the letter from Shire.

The contract with Glover Park Group has not yet been finalized, disclosures say, so there is no specifics about how much the firm is being paid or for how long the contract will last. The firm did not respond to emails for comment.

Glover Park Group has other foreign government clients, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and a communications firm in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that advises, and is paid by, the government.



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