President Obama Nominates First US Ambassador to Somalia in 24 Years
On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated the first US ambassador to Somalia since 1991. The U.S. withdrew its ambassador from the country after rival warlords took over Somalia leading to the collapse of the country’s recognized national government.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back in the US-Somalia relationship was in 1993 when pictures and videos surfaced of American soldiers being dragged by a mob through the streets of the country’s capital, Mogadishu. The soldiers were captured after the militia brought down two Black Hawk helicopters. It is said, eighteen Americans lost their lives while 80 others were wounded.
Somalia later got a globally recognized and legitimate government instituted on August 2012. This government took over power from the militia group that now primarily operates as the Al-Shabaab militia. The United States officially acknowledged the newly constituted government in January, 2013.
Katherine S. Dhanani, was nominated by President Obama as U.S. ambassador to Somalia. She seems to be the right candidate for the post given her vast experience on the African continent. But her appointment will have to undergo a confirmation process by the U.S. Senate.
However, security concern remains a major issue in Somalia; given religious extremist have been targeting government officials in a bloody campaign.
Just last week on Friday, the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab were said to have killed over 25 people in an attack on a popular Mogadishu hotel. Government ministers and officials are said to have been in the targeted building for their Friday prayers.
The U.S. State Department welcomed President Obama’s move terming it as “historic” saying it, “signals the deepening relationship” between the U.S. and Somalia.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, if Dhanani is confirmed by the Senate, she will lead a US mission to Somalia, currently operating from the US embassy in Nairobi.
Psaki said, “As security conditions permit, we look forward to increasing our diplomatic presence in Somalia and eventually reopening the US embassy in Mogadishu.”
She further said that the nominations, “allows us to mark the progress of the Somali people toward emerging from decades of conflict. Somalia has considerable work ahead to complete its transition to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous nation.”
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