US re-opens embassy in Somalia after almost three-decade absence

US re-opens embassy in Somalia after almost three-decade absence
2 min read
03 October, 2019
This comes amid strengthening ties between the US and Somalia, a country that has been wracked by violence and chaos since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.
U.S. marine shouts orders as he advances towards the destroyed American embassy in 1992 [Getty]

The United States has re-opened its embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia, 28 years after it was shut down when a civil war erupted in the country, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The move highlights the strengthening ties between the two countries. 

"Today we reaffirm the relations between the American people and the Somali people, and our two nations," Ambassador Donald Yamamoto said in a statement.

"It is a significant and historic day that reflects Somalia's progress in recent years, and another step forward in regularising U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognising the federal government of Somalia in 2013."

Read more: Somali pirates free Iranian hostage held since 2015

Washington had closed its embassy in 1991 following the overthrow of Siad Barre's brutal military regime that led to a power vaccuum across the country, one that was exploited by Islamist and militant groups.

The civil war that followed destroyed the country's infrastructure and wreaked havoc on the civilian population, with hundreds of thousands forced to flee the fighting. 

Wednesday's statement reflects the progress Somalia has made toward stabilisation, despite continued threats from extremist militias. 

The United States had recognized Somalia's new government in 2013, and established a permanent diplomatic presence there in 2018 that until now operated out of Nairobi. 

The country continues to be wracked by violence from extremist militias.

Al-Shabaab extremists on Monday attacked a military base that is a major launching site for US drone operations, as well as a European Union convoy.

US strikes in Somalia surged in April 2017 following Donald Trump's declaration that southern Somalia was an "area of active hostilities".

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