Jump to navigation

Somalia

Washington's K-Street lobbyists take on Hargeisa

Worried by Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi's bid to get the US to recognise his government as independent from Somalia, some clan leaders have hired advisors

The political and diplomatic battle between the federal government of Somalia and Somaliland has been given an unusual twist. Washington lobbyists, Von Batten-Montague-York, led by the improbably-named Republican consultant Karl-Marx von Batten, have been hired by the clan leaders of the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn, all contested areas of Somaliland (AC Vol 63 No 16, Hassan Sheikh seeks new foreign allies).

The contract, for which Von Batten-Montague-York will receive a nominal $1 fee, initially involved a meeting with the staff of Democrat Senator Tim Kaine, to discuss 'development relating to the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn regions petitioning the federal government of Somalia for Federal Member Statehood status.'

According to documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the lobbyists will also 'lobby, advocate and push matters beneficial to the Clan leaders'.

Von Batten-Montague-York has had the Somali federal government as a client since June last year, also on a $1 contract, first to obtain Somali access to tariff-free exports offered by the United States' African Growth and Opportunity Act.

In practice, they are waging an aggressive social media campaign against the possibility that the US government – or any other international bodies – would recognise Somaliland as an independent state. They dismiss what the lobby firm describes as the 'Somaliland regime fantasy world'.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi's visit to Washington last March had been billed as an attempt to secure US recognition. However, in recent weeks, the US ambassador to Mogadishu, Larry André, has referred to Somaliland as a federal region of Somalia, prompting an angry response from Hargeisa (AC Vol 63 No 8, Washington eyes a base at Berbera). 'Somaliland is no friend of the US & does not share US values. We will continue to oppose Somaliland actions to seek US recognition or circumvent Somalia sovereignty,' tweeted Von Batten-Montague-York.



Related Articles

Hassan Sheikh seeks new foreign allies

The new president has been touring the region, gauging his support among the neighbours and geopolitical heavyweights as tensions build

With funding and diplomatic attention diverted to Ukraine, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his fellow leaders in the Horn of Africa are trying to manage the region's security c...


Washington eyes a base at Berbera

Intensifying competition between the US, Russia, China and the Gulf states boosts the strategic importance of Somaliland's port

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi's trip to Washington DC last month may not have resulted in an exchange of ambassadors, but it looks as though the statelet will achieve de fact...


Count and discount

Mediation continues in a bid to calm the controversy following the 14 April presidential election. This saw Dahir Riyal Kahin, one of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's politic...


Floods put fighting on hold

A 'once-in-a-century' deluge halted troops movements while the President went on a world tour to raise funds

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has November's unprecedentedly severe rains and floods to thank for the fact he has not paid the full political price for the setback government for...


The cost of war

After a furious but well-hidden row, Burundi is set to withdraw 1,000 soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) force immediately; 4,532 Burundian troops will rem...