Somalilandsun: The United States is intent on not only strengthening but sustaing military and diplomatic cooperation with Somaliland.
This was unanimously concured upon during a meeting between Somaliland officials led by President Muse Bihi Abdi and a US military and diplomatic delegation led by Gen Stephen Townsend the Commander US Africa Command-AFRICOM and US envoy to Somalia Ambassador Larry Andre.
“This visit by senior US military and diplomatic officials is an important step towards laying the foundations for cooperation between Somaliland and In the United States, it marks the beginning of a new chapter in bilateral relations” stated President Bihi
General Townsend the top US military official to visit Somaliland since 1991, was accompanied by several high ranking US military officers under his command while US envoy to Somalia Ambassador Larry André was Flanked by top US government officials.
This is a very significant visit considering that the U.S. Africa Command, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, is one of 11 U.S. Department of Defense combatant commands, each with a geographic or functional mission that provides command and control of military forces in peace and war. U.S. Africa Command employs the broad-reaching diplomacy, development, and defense approach to foster interagency efforts and help negate the drivers of conflict and extremism in Africa.
According to a press statement released by the presidential press service President thanked the delegation for their visit to Somaliland and said that they welcomed the security and military cooperation between Somaliland and the United States.
Adding that the visit of General Stephen Townsend is an important step towards laying the foundations for cooperation between Somaliland and In the United States, it marks the beginning of a new chapter in bilateral relations. The Somaliland Coast Guard plays an important role in protecting the important waters of the Red Sea, which is of great benefit to all countries. A stronger, larger partnership between Somaliland and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AFRICOM) could enhance maritime security and support, and support trade and economic growth in East Africa.
Gen Townsend and Amb Andre who welcomed the remarks expressed by President Bihi reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to security and military cooperation with Somaliland.
Prior to their arrival in Hargeisa the Gen Townsend and Amb Andre led US delegation visited Berbera Port and Berbera International Airport, both of which were recently expanded and modernized to improve service quality. the economy, humanitarian issues and security needs of Somaliland, its allies and the region.
The President was accompanied by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Jesus File Mahmoud, Interior Minister Mohamed Ahmed, chaired by Mr. Mahmoud explained Cateeye (Fariid), commanders of the army and police, High Gas and High Gas Noah Ismail Taani She Mohamed Adan.
The high level US military and diplomatic visit comes in the heels of the recent visit of President Muse Bihi Abdi to the United States in March, 2022 and the visit of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to Berbera in August last year.
The president Bihi was historic because it ensued with the US-Somaliland Partnership Act submitted to the Congress in Washington and sponsored by Senator James E. Risch (R) with Sen Chris Van Hollen (D) , US – Senator Roger F. Wicker (R) and Sen Mike Rounds (R) as co-sponsors.
The bill which is currently at the House foreign affairs committee requires the Secretary of State to submit annual reports to Congress on the assistance provided to Somaliland and to conduct a feasibility study, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, on establishing a security partnership with Somaliland, without recognizing Somaliland as an independent state.
The bill which obligates the US Secretaries of Defense and state as well as USAID chief to report within 180 days was Introduced in Senate (03/17/2022).
In this period the aforementioned officials are required to conduct feasibility studies related to establishing a US military presence in Somaliland, specifically at the port of Berbera, training of local security personnel, establishment of US diplomatic mission in Hargeisa and direct USAID intervention among others.
The visit by Gen Townsend and Amb Andre is therefore very significant in relation to the US-Somaliland Partnership Act and the report these officials take back to their bosses in Washington will surely form basis for the anticipated briefing to Congress.
Read full contents of the US-Somaliland Partnership Act HERE