According to diplomatic sources briefed on the matter, Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has sought Qatar’s help in convincing the United States Department of State to deny visas to the President of the Republic of Somaliland HE Muse Bihi Abdi, and members of his delegation. Sources add that Farmajo’s appeal to the Qatari Amir during his recent visit to Qatar comes after Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ similar appeals to regional embassies were unsuccessful.
The President of the Republic of Somaliland HE Muse Bihi Abdi and a large delegation consisting of the Ministers of Interior, Environment, Industry, Commerce, and Tourism, and Information as well as members of the business community from Somaliland’s largest enterprises such as Telesom, SOMTEL, SOMCABLE, have departed Egal International and are due to arrive in Dulles International Airport tomorrow morning.
In addition to the appeal to the Qatari Amir, Somalia’s federal government has directly approached the United States embassies in Djibouti, Kenya as well as the State Department to prevent visa issuance to President Bihi and members of his delegation.
Garowe Online has reported on Twitter that the United States Embassy in Djibouti has denied the visa applications of the Minister of Interior Hon. Mohamed Kahin Ahmed and the Minister of Information and National Guidance Hon. Saleban Ali Kore. Somaliland government has, via Minister Kore, called the report fake. It is unclear if the outlet’s sources include Somali government officials privy to Villa Somalia’s efforts to prevent Bihi’s delegation from visiting the United States.
Although some cabinet members accompanying President Bihi are United States citizens and did not require visas, the Somaliland government has confirmed visas to members of the delegation, specifically for President Bihi and the Ministers of Interior and Information were issued on Somaliland passports.
Somalia’s Federal Government under Mohamed Abdulahi Farmajo has sought to destabilize and isolate Somaliland economically and diplomatically and has sided with China which vigorously opposes any diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Somalia and China have condemned the establishment of diplomatic ties between Somaliland and Taiwan as an infringement of their territorial integrity.
Somaliland government has been unusually tight-lipped on whether President Bihi and his delegation will meet with members of the Biden Administration or US Congress or whether the visit is related to reports of US interest in establishing a military base in Somaliland.
Although the United States weighing the potential for a military base in Somaliland have been widely reported, one cornerstone of such arrangements — the Status of Forces Agreement which the United States signs with any country that hosts US military personnel is not in place and so far both the United States Africa Command and the Somaliland government have not responded to questions about ongoing talks.