Somaliland President Musa Bihi Abdi has taken the country’s shuttle diplomacy in the quest for international recognition to the United States where he has gained support from the US Foreign Affairs Committee.
Bihi has held talks with a number of US officials including the State Department, the US Agency for International Development, World Bank, US African Command, US Department of Defence, members of Senate, members of Congress, former diplomats, Think Tanks among other dignitaries.
Officials of the US Foreign Affairs Committee expressed their concern over growing influence of China in the Horn of Africa and urged the Joe Biden administration in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State John Blinken to enhance diplomatic engagement with Somaliland.
“We write to urge the Biden Administration to consider increasing and deepening engagement with Somaliland on issues of mutual diplomatic, economic and security interests,” the lawmakers wrote.
They added: “Somaliland’s geo-strategic location on the Gulf of Aden, consistent support for democracy, cooperation on countering terrorism, piracy, and other security threats in the region, relations with Taiwan, and growing economic potential warrants that the United States explore additional opportunities to partner with Somaliland.”
“Recent events in the Horn of Africa have upended feeble stability in the region and further jeopardized prospects for a peaceful resolution to multiple regional and domestic issues. With civil war embroiling Ethiopia, with Eritrean involvement; return to military rule in Sudan; delayed elections and political infighting fueling increasing instability in Somalia, amidst unabated terrorist activity by Al-Shabaab; and the worst drought the region has seen in over forty years, the US must rethink our current strategy of engagement to address these immense challenges and the threats posed to US national security interests,” the letter reads.
The lawmakers said the US “should not limit ourselves to a single Somalia Policy. The administration should explore all areas of engagement in the region.”
In his speech at the Heritage, President Bihi said security in the Horn of Africa is vital for Somaliland as the country lies in heart of the Gulf of Aden-Red Sead.
Bihi emphasized the need for support in Somaliland combating terrorist groups. “My country, Somaliland, is often celebrated for our functioning, stable and democratic state in an otherwise volatile region. We do not wish to be extraordinary. But similarly sustained democratic progress in our part of the world is rare,” Bihi said.
He added: “We have deterred terrorists from our land and pirates from our coastal waters. Somaliland is rightfully proud of the security, stability, and democracy we enjoy, and I am pleased to say we celebrated 30 years of independence in May last year. Somaliland has now been outside the union with Somalia more than we have been inside the union.”
Bihi is confident the cooperation between Somaliland and the US will intensify more so after members of the Foreign Affairs Committee urged the Joe Biden administration to enhance its cooperation with Somaliland.
Bihi stated: “An important foundational element of this partnership is the establishment of a permanent US diplomatic presence in Hargeisa. Several nations – including Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Kenya, Taiwan, Turkey, and the UAE – have diplomatic offices in our capital, and the United States should join their ranks. With this presence and regular visits by senior US officials, we will be cooperate more closely in key areas.
Bihi is on a ten-day visit to the US seeking to intensify the country’s campaign for international recognition and market Somaliland as an investment hub.
The Somaliland delegation participated in an important business and investment conference at the International Financial Corporation (IFC) on Tuesday. The meeting was attended by US investors and Somaliland business communities.
The Somaliland delegation also met with officials from State Departments’ Mary Catherine Phee, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs of the United States, Ilan Goldenberg of Department of Defense, Maura Barry Boyle of USAID, and Amb Andrew Young, of United States Africa Command, to explore opportunities for economic, security and development cooperation in the interests of both parties.
Somaliland has sustained a push for international recognition in Africa and Europe. Last month, the United Kingdom’s House of Commons debated on the push.