Somaliland president Muse Bihi Abdi is putting the finishing touches to a trip that will take him to Washington in mid-March. There he hopes to rally his supporters in Congress to plead with the Biden administration for the recognition of the country.
Having dealt last year with Joe Biden‘s administration – which briefly considered relocating former Afghan staff to Hargeisa before finally opting for Uganda – Somali President Muse Bihi Abdi is trying to build on this initial contact to advance his country’s recognition. He is currently finalising a trip to Washington in mid-March, where his foreign minister Essa Kayd Mohamoud visited in November last year. That trip was followed a month later by a US visit to Hargeisa.
In the hope of speeding up the recognition of his country by Washington, which is still very much hypothetical, the Somaliland head of state has routinely highlighted his good relations with the United Arab Emirates (which is digging a deep-water port in Berbera) as well as with Israel (which has sent several teams to the country to inspect the Soviet-built runways, which are among the longest in Africa). Just before going to Washington, Muse Bihi Abdi was given an audience in Abu Dhabi on 20 February with Emirati Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, known as MbZ.
A bulwark against China
In the US Congress, where Somaliland boasts supporters such as the Republican Senator from Idaho, James Risch, the country has positioned itself as the last bastion against the Chinese advance in the Horn (Somaliland has officially recognised Taiwan – AI, 08/07/20 and 10/09/21). In order to get around the legislation that prohibits it from having an embassy in the US federal capital, Hargeisa has set up a private company called Somaliland Mission USA, which is registered as a lobbyist for the country with the Department of Justice.