According to sources, the United States Ambassador to Somalia, Mr. Larry André, is retiring in the next few months. Mr. André, who has been appointed on February 2021 to replace Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, is leaving before his term is up, an unusual timing that could signal a deeper issue with his performance as the United States Representative in volatile Somalia.
Ambassador André has doubled down on positions held by his predecessor Ambassador Yamamoto who all but ignored Somaliland and adhered to the “One Somalia” policy despite the inclusion of Somaliland in the landmark National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 that signaled a significant shift of the United States policy towards Somaliland and mandated the Departments of State and Defense to work directly with Somaliland on security and potential military base in Berbera.
Since his appointment to Somalia, Mr. André had visited Somaliland once in May 2022 when he accompanied the former Africa Command General Stephen Townsend to tour potential facilities for the US base in Berbera. Current Chargé d’Affaires and likely successor Mr. Tim Trenkle led a delegation to Somaliland on February 23rd and met with government officials, including the President of the Republic of Somaliland, the opposition parties, and civil society organizations.
Counterproductive and antagonistic language towards Somaliland from the Embassy has led to a public spat between the Somaliland government and Ambassador André. In multiple interviews and an op-ed he penned to respond to a public spat with Somaliland over language often tweeted by the US Embassy in Somalia, Mr. André has insisted that the Somali constitution is his guide to advancing what he called shared interest.
In an interview we had with Ambassador André in July 2022, we asked him if his strict adherence to what he repeatedly called “historic Somalia” may be a contrarian position to the interest of the United States when it is seeking to partner with Somaliland security matters “My job is to accurately represent the views of the United States government. If I took “a contrarian position to the rest of the U.S. government” then I would soon become a former ambassador,” he responded.
It is unclear if Mr. Andre’s early retirement directly results from his strict adherence to the “One Somalia” policy and implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act 2022 objectives in Somaliland to advance the national security interest of the United States.
Efforts to reach Officials from the Somalia Embassy were unsuccessful.