Long torn by clan rivalries, stricken by drought and resulting famine, and attacks by a militant extremist group, the East African nation of Somalia has made important strides since completing its political transition in 2012. In a nation once synonymous with chaos, there are hopeful signs of improved security and economic growth.
Throughout the process, the United States has stood with the Somali people, providing security, governance and humanitarian assistance to help strengthen democratic institutions and improve stability. Recognizing Somalia’s progress and as a sign of our nation’s deepening relationship with Somalia, President Barack Obama has nominated Katherine S. Dhanani, a veteran diplomat, as U.S. ambassador to Somalia. It’s a critical step towards normalizing the U.S.-Somalia bilateral relationship since our recognition of the Federal Government of Somalia in January 2013.
Since our embassy closed in 1991 amid the country’s then-growing instability, the United States conducted diplomacy on Somalia affairs based out of Nairobi. Over the past five years, the United States began to travel more frequently into Somalia to conduct official business. When security conditions permit, it is envisioned that an embassy will be re-established in Mogadishu.
While Somalia has come far in the last two years, many challenges and threats remain. The al-Qaeda-linked terrorists al-Shabaab have been weakened, but not defeated. Government services are uneven and tens of thousands of Somalis remain displaced from their homes by violence. To keep making progress, the pivotal test for Somalia will not be securing more aid from the United States and other international partners, but for its leaders to put their loyalties and differences behind them and commit to working together for the common good.