Somaliland challenges US ambassador’s recognition of region as part of Somalia

Hargeisa (Caasimada Online) – Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia, has taken issue with the actions of the US Ambassador to Somalia, Larry Andre.

In a statement released by the Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government criticized Andre for referring to Somaliland as a region part of Somalia rather than “its proper name.”

The statement read, “It is unacceptable that Larry Andre, the US ambassador in Mogadishu, continuously avoids referring to Somaliland by its proper name and instead refers to it as a region of Somalia, lumping Berbera with Somalia despite knowing fully well that Somaliland is not a region of Somalia. Referring to Somaliland as a region of Somalia is an affront to the dignity of our people and our country.”

The Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement went on to say, “We wonder if Ambassador Andre has an ulterior motive. As has been the practice, the Republic of Somaliland is always ready to cooperate with the United States.”

Somaliland has long sought recognition as an independent nation, separate from Somalia. The government has emphasized its stability and potential as an asset for US interests in the Horn of Africa.

In March 2022, top leaders from Somaliland visited Washington to lobby the United States to recognize the territory’s independence. However, during the visit, the Biden administration made it clear that it had no plans to recognize Somaliland’s independence from Somalia.

Despite this, in meetings on Capitol Hill, top US lawmakers signaled that they wanted the United States to deepen ties with Somaliland, viewing the territory as a bastion of stability in an otherwise unstable region and a potential bulwark against growing Chinese influence in East Africa.

Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, Essa Kayd Mohamoud, stated in an interview with Foreign Policy, “Even if it takes 100 years for recognition, we will still stand for our identity, we’ll still engage with everybody, and we’ll still dream of a day where Somaliland is recognized as its own country.”

The US has already sent an advance team to Somaliland to prepare the military to train in Berbera, demonstrating a deepening of ties between the two sides.

However, recognition of Somaliland’s independence remains a contentious issue, with US officials fearing it would upend relations with the federal government in Somalia and open the floodgates for other semi-autonomous African regions to push for independence.

Somaliland is a semi-autonomous region in the northwestern part of Somalia. It declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, following the collapse of the Somali government and the outbreak of civil war. However, any country or international organization has not recognized its sovereignty.

Despite this lack of international recognition, Somaliland established a functioning government, a stable economy, and a peaceful society.