In an opinion piece published on News Week, the President of the Republic of Somaliland HE Muse Bihi Abdi called on the United States of America to engage directly with Somaliland on security, trade, and cooperation. Highlighting Somaliland’s democratic values and strategic location and its 850-kilometer coastline in the Red Sea, President Bihi articulated why it is in the best interest of the United States to work with Somaliland.
Somaliland’s foreign policy has remained predictable and relatively passive but recently has taken on a newly aggressive posture that started with the establishment of bilateral ties with Taiwan and rejecting an investment package from the People’s Republic of China.
President Bihi drew a sharp contrast with other countries in the region where democratic values are receding with Somaliland’s successive peaceful transfers of power and its latest parliament and local council elections and pledged to continue this tradition to step down when the time comes for his successor and future 6th President of Somaliland.
On security collaboration between Somaliland and the United States, President Bihi spoke about turbulent East Africa without naming specific countries and how the active political disputes, ethnic tensions, and armed conflicts that surround Somaliland can adversely affect the strategic interest of the United States. Besides the open conflicts, President Bihi mentioned China’s growing military presence as part of its String of Pearls maritime initiative in the Red Sea and particularly Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
President Bihi spoke of Somaliland’s collaboration with DP World to expand and modernize Berbera Port to handle two million TEU and its potential to transform the region’s economy and invited American investment in Somaliland as an alternative to China’s debt trap that other countries in the region have chosen. Once again, President Bihi did not mention any countries including Djibouti, which owes tens of billions to the People’s Republic of China.
Continuing to make the case of why it’s in the United States and Somaliland’s interest to establish a direct line of communication, the President used America’s long-standing engagement and support of Taiwan as an example despite not being recognized and closes with “A similar opportunity awaits the U.S. in Somaliland, where our people have proven during 30 years of independence the power of democracy in an unsettled world.”.