Rashid Nur Absiye or Rashid Garuf as he is known in social media circles, is Somaliland’s Ambassador to the United States of America and was appointed by HE President Ahmed Mohamoud Siilaanyo. He continues on to stay on as an Ambassador for Somaliland during Muse Bihi’s new administration.
Mr Absiye is described as a charismatic and highly educated with advance degrees from Howard and Harvard Universities. He is a true son and patriot of Somaliland who regularly hits back hard against Somalia on social media especially on twitter.
This story, however, is not about Mr. Absiye although he is a central to understand the failure of Somaliland’s foreign policy in the United States.
We have talked to more than a dozen people in the United States who are active members of Somaliland community in the Greater Washington DC area and beyond. And most are either long term acquaintances or friends of Mr. Absiye.
While most have described Mr. Absiye as well mannered, polite and very patriotic, others have complained about his strong support for Kulmiye and felt that he was too polarizing of a figure in the lead up to and during the bitter election campaign.
Mr. Absiye represents the Republic of Somaliland in what’s arguably the most important country in the world – The United States of America, the most influential country in the world in our lifetime, though one may disagree with its policy on many fronts or cringe at the thought of Mr Trump as its President, it’s unrealistic to ignore that many many countries around the globe would easily follow their lead of any number of policy issues.
Somaliland’s Mission in the United States is 10 miles from the White House and 10.5 miles from the United States Capitol and while the Somaliland Mission has organized 18 May celebrations every year it has never thought of organizing a march of any kind on behalf of Somaliland.
The United States Congress and Senate is the one place where Somaliland needs to desperately lobby and court congressmen and senators who are sick of the million of their tax payers money being spent on Somalia on daily basis. Offering Somaliland as a cheaper alternative is an effort that by all accounts has not been pursued by our Mission in the US.
Mr. Absiye knows his adapted country very well and understands exactly what needs to be done, so why has he not done it?
For starters, Mr. Absiye is not a dedicated resource whose sole business is to represent Somaliland; instead he has a full time high paying job in the private sector, a job he has held for the past 18 years. There is nothing wrong with this and judging from the stipend Somaliland pays him, he has every right to hold a job to be able to afford a living in one of the most expensive areas of the United States.
According to Somalilander’s from the area, you will need to call and have an appointment to be able to meet anyone from the Mission, if you make the mistake of just showing up, you will be disappointed med with a shuttered building. And they all point to the fact that Mr. Absiye has a full time job that he rightfully needs to attend to.
Besides the office, the Somaliland Mission has an outdated website which despite Somaliland having a new President for seven months, still lists HE Ahmed Mohamoud Siilaanyo as the President of Somaliland.
Additionally, the facebook page listed on the mission’s outdated and insecure website http://somaliland.us has not been updated since 2014
A community activist who had a falling out with Mr. Absiye during Mr Abdirahman Irro’s visit to the United States, where Mr. Absiye did not attend a ceremony held for the Wadani leader and his delegation, stated that the Ambassador has a knack for shooting down any idea and is not open to farming out some of the work to volunteers who are eager to do the work. “He alone officially represents Somaliland, and he wants to keep it that way” he added.
“He alone officially represents Somaliland, and he wants to keep it that way”
One of the sources we interviewed for this story, was present when the Somaliland Foreign Affairs Minister, Sa’ad Ali Shire was in the United States and was given a tour of the Mission office said “the whole thing was a farce and the office is generally open when there is a Somaliland delegation but is not for serving the community”.
Another acquaintance of Mr. Absiye described him as a hardworking guy who was given a “mission impossible” with less than adequate resources and demoralized due to many personal attacks directed towards him during the campaign. “He is dead man walking, I am sure he is just waiting to be replaced but I am not sure anyone wants the job”. When asked why no one may not want the job as head of Somaliland Mission, he said “60k a year is laughable for any mid career professional, let alone someone representing an unrecognized country in America, he will need that much is suits and travel expenses.”
Another whose opinion of Mr. Absiye was unusually low, immediately pointed out that he was appointed not because of qualification but is related to the former First lady and is a first cousin of the current First Lady of Somaliland as to why is staying on. We are unable to substantiate these claims.
It is unclear if there is an official guideline or accountability by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to follow up with Heads of Missions who are charged with representing Somaliland overseas, but in the case of Mr. Absiye, it does not appear that much was done to lobby the US government on behalf of Somaliland.
Hiring a professional lobby firm from K Street is very expensive but if Somaliland is honest about seeking active engagement from the US government, first it must redouble its effort to become more visible than an empty building and an outdated website.
It is also unclear if Somaliland’s ambassadors or head of mission are required to be dedicated solely to represent Somaliland. Or as is the case with Mr Absiye or Garuf, if they should do it when they get around to it.
We have reached out to Mr. Absiye for this story but he was unavailable for at least another week.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a larger story The Somaliland Chronicle is doing to inform the public about the status of Somaliland’s recognition. We are examining our missions across the globe, country by country to give our people an honest assessment of where we are in relation to Somaliland’s recognition and how well we are being represented overseas.