According to sources present in today’s meeting between the delegation led by the President of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi and officials from the Departments of State and Defense and USAID, the two sides agreed on cooperating on a range of issues, most notably security and economic cooperation. Sources add that President Bihi held a brief private discussion with Molly Phee, who heads the Bureau of African Affairs.
Security cooperation that was discussed by President Bihi’s delegation and officials from the Department of Defense, as well as members of Africa Command, will include direct cooperation with Somaliland security forces in counter-terrorism and maritime security. This will be the first time the United States works directly with Somaliland on matters pertaining to security. Sources declined to confirm if the United States will share critical and real-time intelligence for counter-terrorism purposes.
A statement issued by the State Department Bureau of African Affairs confirmed the meeting between President Bihi’s delegation and US government officials and the discussion of US engagement with Somaliland and although it ended that all cooperation will be within the framework of a single Somalia policy, sources stated that the only time Somalia came up in a conversation was a question that was posed to President Bihi on his view of the possibility of further Somaliland and Somalia talks when there is a different regime in Mogadishu where he responded that he sees little value in continuing such fruitless talks and that Somaliland already has what it wants and that is its independence and sovereignty.
One of the immediate things that will be implemented as part of the discussion between the governments of the United States and Somaliland is to update the State Department’s Travel Advisory to reflect the favorable security conditions in Somaliland.
Although far from recognition, the pledge by the United States Departments of State and Defense of direct engagement with the Republic of Somaliland reflects a turning point in US government policy where the Executive Branch of the US government is not in alignment with members of Congress and will implement the security cooperation in Senator Risch’s Amendment in the Defense Authorization Act.