After 28 years, U.S. opens Diplomatic Mission in Somalia

(NAN) – The U.S. has renewed a “permanent diplomatic presence” in Somalia, the State Department said, 28 years after the U.S. embassy was closed as a civil war raged in the country.

Somalia has been trying to recover from the conflict that engulfed the country in 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.

“This historic event reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years and is another step forward in formalising U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu,” the State Department said in a statement.

Somalia has in recent years faced an insurgency by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group, as well as famine and maritime piracy.

While parts of the country are plagued by militant violence, a degree of stability in the capital, Mogadishu, has drawn investment from Somalis at home and abroad.

In September, the World Bank approved 80 million dollars in grants to Somalia to fund public finance reforms, the first disbursement to the country in 30 years.

The U.S. carries out periodic air strikes in Somalia in support of the UN-backed government and its fight against al-Shabaab.

U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Somalia after 28 years

The militant group withdrew from Mogadishu in 2011, but it retains a strong presence in areas outside the capital.

“Our return demonstrates the U.S. commitment to further advance stability, democracy, and economic development that are in the interest of both nations,” the State Department said.

NAN reports that U.S. President Donald Trump expanded operations against al-Shabab in March 2017 and the US military has conducted more than two dozen air strikes, including drone strikes, in Somalia this year,

Traditionally, U.S. presidents have been wary of intervening in Somalia since 18 special forces soldiers died fighting militias in Mogadishu in 1993, a battle dramatised in the film Black Hawk Down.

In November, the U.S. announced it was cutting 700 counter-terrorism troops from Africa over the next few years, although its activities in Somalia will remain largely the same.