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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Somalia

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
June 15, 2015


More information about Somalia is available on the Somalia Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Somalia in 1960, following its constituent parts' independence from British and Italian administration, respectively. A 1969 coup replaced Somalia's elected government with military rule that reflected both ideological and economic dependence on the Soviet Union. Following war with Ethiopia in the 1970s, Somalia began turning toward the West, including the United States, for international support, military equipment, and economic aid. Civil war in the 1980s led to the collapse of Somalia's central government in 1991.

Following this, various groupings of Somali factions, sometimes supported by outside forces, sought to control the national territory (or portions thereof) and fought one another. Although the United States never formally severed diplomatic relations with Somalia, the U.S. Embassy in Somalia was closed in 1991. From 1992-94, the United States took part in operations that aimed to provide assistance to Somalis. Numerous efforts at mediation and reconciliation were attempted over the years, and a transitional government was established in 2004. In 2012, Somalia completed its political transition with the election of a new federal parliament and speaker, the national constituent assembly's adoption of a provisional constitution, the election of a new president, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and the naming of a new prime minister and cabinet. The United States formally recognized the new government on January 17, 2013.

U.S. foreign policy objectives in Somalia are to promote political and economic stability, prevent the use of Somalia as a haven for international terrorism, and alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by years of conflict, drought, flooding, and poor governance. The United States is committed to helping Somalia's government strengthen democratic institutions, improve stability and security, and deliver results for the Somali people. Since 2013, the Federal Government of Somalia has made progress establishing government institutions, negotiating relationships with regional authorities, and supporting community stabilization. The United States supports the Somali government as it implements “Vision 2016,” the Somali-led state-building agenda for completing a federal state-formation process, holding a constitutional referendum, and preparing for democratic elections. The United States also has welcomed the African Union Mission in Somalia's (AMISOM) success in driving the al-Shabaab terrorist organization out of strategically important population centers, and has underscored the continued U.S. commitment to support AMISOM and the Somali national forces in their responsibility of extending security throughout Somalia.

U.S. Assistance to Somalia

The United States has provided humanitarian assistance in Somalia to address the problems of drought, famine, and refugees. U.S. development assistance in Somalia has supported the establishment of a post-transitional national government working to foster a unified Somali state in the long term. U.S. assistance also aims to focus on the more stable areas of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous state of Puntland. The United States works closely with other donor partners and international organizations to support social services and the development of an effective and representative security sector, including military, police, and justice sector, while supporting ongoing African Union peacekeeping efforts.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States has little trade or investment with Somalia. U.S. exports to Somalia include legumes, grain, baking-related goods, donated products, and machinery. U.S. imports from Somalia include precious stones and low-value shipments.

Somalia's Membership in International Organizations

Somalia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank.

Bilateral Representation

The United States maintains regular dialogue with Somali officials and other key stakeholders in Somalia through the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, which also handles consular coverage for Somalia, including to U.S. citizens in the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland."

At present, U.S. policy on Somalia is led by the Special Representative on Somalia James McAnulty, who leads the Somalia Unit based in the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List. Somalia Unit staff and other U.S. personnel travel frequently into Somalia to conduct official business. During his May 5, 2015 visit to Mogadishu, Secretary Kerry announced that the United States will begin the process of establishing the premises for a diplomatic mission in Mogadishu. We do not yet have a fixed timeline for reopening the Embassy.

After a twenty-three year diplomatic absence in Washington, DC, Somalia re-opened its embassy on July 14, 2014. The Federal Government of Somalia also maintains a diplomatic mission to the United Nations in New York.

More information about Somalia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Somalia Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Somalia Page
U.S. Embassy: Kenya (Virtual Presence Post - Somalia)
USAID Somalia Page
History of U.S. Relations With Somalia
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information

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