Top US military official visits Somaliland amidst growing interest in Berbera

International Relations News

United States growing interest in Somaliland became clearer this week with the visit by General Stephen Townsend, Commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to the Horn of Africa nation.

General Townsend, the top US military official to visit Somaliland since 1991, was accompanied by US Ambassador Larry André and other US government officials when they met President at the Egal International Airport in Hargeisa on May 12.

While the two parties discussed advancing bilateral security interests in East Africa, the United States interest in Berbera could not go unnoticed. The US delegation visited Berbera Port and Berbera International Airport, both of which were recently expanded and modernized to improve service quality, the economy, humanitarian issues and security needs of Somaliland, its allies and the region.

According to Trevor Ault, editor of ABC News, the Pentagon wants to make Berbera the largest military base in Africa, after the same Pentagon said tensions between China and Djibouti had escalated.

Also, Trevor Ault said that the relationship between Somaliland and the United States will change the map and trade of the Red Sea

In February this year, a Wall street report stated that Somaliland was offering the U.S. military use of a seaport and airfield overlooking strategic maritime routes in exchange for steps toward recognizing the region as a sovereign country.

“The president would definitely welcome a U.S. presence and protection of the waterways,” Somaliland Foreign Minister Essa Kayd said in an interview.

“America should react very urgently,” Mr. Kayd said.

“The continued instability in the Horn of Africa and heightened global competition for resources and influence make it all the more important that we work with like-minded partners in the region, like Somaliland, committed to peace, democracy, and prosperity,” said Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

A month later in March, President Muse Bihi visited the US in an official trip where he held meetings with key officials of the US government.

A stronger, larger partnership between Somaliland and the (AFRICOM) could enhance maritime security and support, and support trade and economic growth in East Africa.

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