Archive for Somalia
Controversy is surrounding a meeting between U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Stephen Schwartz, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, and new Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. The controversy is not so much about the meeting but what happened during the photo opportunity when Schwartz gave Farmajo a hat bearing a slogan that appears to be derived from President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” After the meeting, the Twitter account of the U.S. Mission tweeted about the meeting posting a message that read, “US2SOM Amb Schwartz had a fruitful mtng w Pres Farmaajo 2day + presented the Pres with a cap “MAKE SOM GREAT AGAIN.” The photo attached with the message shows the two men shaking hands and holding the hat. Most Twitter users thought the gift was a diplomatic misstep; others were harsher and said the timing for such a message was inappropriate because of Trump’s recent immigration travel ban that affected seven Muslim-majority nations, including Somalia.
China officially reopened its embassy in Somalia and accredited a new ambassador to the horn of Africa country recovering from years of conflict. China, like other nations, closed its embassy and relocated its staff after the breakout of civil war in Somalia back in 1991 when the country descended into a chaos and lawlessness that lasted during the next 23 years. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming announced the official reopening of the embassy in a ceremony in the capital Mogadishu. The new ambassador, Wei Hongtian, who speaks fluent Somali, said he was honored to be appointed to represent his country in Somalia where he studied Somali at the national university during the 1980s. China is one of the latest countries to reopen embassy in Somali capital Mogadishu, where several, mostly African and Arab nations, have diplomatic representations. Turkey, Britain, and Norway are among a number of European nations that have sent ambassadors to Mogadishu.
The Ugandan embassy in Mogadishu has just started the issuance of the visas to Uganda. In the past people in Somalia who wanted to travel to Uganda used to face challenges in getting visas to Uganda. Therefore, the embassy started the processing of the visas for students, families, business people and patients who want to travel to Uganda for different purposes. The Ugandan embassy in Mogadishu issues visas to at least 30 people per day. In the past, people traveled all the way to Entebe airport where they were given the visas on arrival. Most of the people who travel to Uganda are students who want to study at the universities of Uganda and people who get resettlement in European countries, USA, Canada and Australia. Those who get the resettlement processes go to Uganda to wait their flights to those countries while inside Uganda.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met the ambassador of Qatar to Somalia Hassan Bin Hamza Assad Mohamed. President Hassan and Mr. Hassan Bin Hamza discussed about intent the Qatar government is reopening its embassy in Somalia. Mr. Hassan Bin Hamza also said hi to the president on behalf of the amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamaad Al-thani.
China has announced that it will reopen its embassy in Somalia more than two decades after evacuating its diplomats from the East African country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Beijing would send a delegation to Somalia on July 1 to reopen the embassy, which was closed in 1991 following Somalia’s plunge into chaos. “Somalia has entered a new stage of its peace process,” Hong told reporters at a regular briefing, adding, “That brings a new opportunity for the development of China-Somalia relations.” He also noted that China’s reopening of the embassy in Somalia shows that his country “attaches great importance to relations with Somalia.” Earlier in June, the United States said that it would appoint an ambassador to Somalia 23 years after it closed its embassy in the Horn of Africa nation. Britain and Turkey have also opened their embassies in Somalia. Somalia has been the scene of clashes between government forces and al-Shabab fighters since 1991. The country did not have an effective central government until September 2012, when lawmakers elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the new president. China has made major investments in Africa, with Chinese companies constructing roads and other infrastructure in the continent. Official figures show that China-Africa trade reached USD210 billion in 2013.
Somalia’s state minister for Foreign Affairs, Buri Mohamed Hamza, has expressed concern over the recent arrest of a Somali diplomat, Siyad Mohamud Shire in Nairobi. He, however, hopes the incident would not lead to serious diplomatic strains between the two neighbouring countries. Hamza called on the Kenyan government to ‘exercise restraint’ in its handling of Somalis living on its soil to help boost ties. “We are saddened by the incident, but hope to overcome this difference,” he said. Since last month, Kenyan security forces have been carrying out security swoops in Nairobi amid security threats. Consequently, nearly 300 Somalis were deported to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in a move that angered many ordinary Somalis and put more pressure on the Somali government to retaliate. Rights activists have condemned the swoops, saying it is profiling Somalis in the country, an allegation the Kenyan government denies. Still, Somalia’s government is unhappy with the way the operation is being conducted.
President Barack Obama plans to nominate the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia in more than two decades. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman called the decision “a reflection both of our deepening relationship with the country and of our faith that better times are ahead.” Sherman said the nomination would occur “soon,” but did not give any specifics. Sherman said the United States has no plans in the immediate future to open an embassy in Mogadishu, the Somali capital wracked by violence from al Qaeda-linked extremist group Al-Shabaab. Last month, the group launched a deadly attack on the nation’s parliament. The new ambassador would work out of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, with another dozen or so diplomats working on Somali issues, and would travel to Mogadishu. The United States and Somalia closed their embassies in each other’s capitals in 1991 after the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre and the effective collapse of central government in the Horn of Africa nation. The United States officially recognized the Somali government in August 2013, and Britain is operating its diplomatic mission an office at the Mogadishu airport until the rest of the UK Embassy compound is completed.