Somalia has consistently been burdened by its strategic positioning along the Horn of Africa, leading to foreign intervention both during its colonial period and at its moment of independence. This is clearly evident in the shared history of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the United States of America. This bilateral relationship began in the early 1960’s, during the republic’s attempt of unification under a unitary state. The United States particular interests with Somalia, in the 60’s stemmed from the nations developing familiarity with the Soviet Union. In classic Cold War behavior the USA and USSR, had decided to support opposing factions within the Horn with a total disregard for the stability of the region. The particular factions during this period, subjected to foreign manipulation were the nations of Somalia (USSR) and Ethiopia (USA). However there was a significant shift in support in 1970 by the United States following the Ethio-Somalia war, in which Somali forces sought to reclaim territory possessed by Ethiopia. Due to the USSR’s disapproval of Somalia’s actions, the Soviets shifted to supporting the Ethiopian forces. The subsequent effect was that Ethiopia cut off all interactions with the USA, which shifted its resources to supporting the Somali forces.
USA and Somali relations following the Cold War period, was that of intermittent provision of aid, materials and support. Eventually, however there was an eventual collapse in relations between the nations, due to internal strife within Somali. The unitary state system had succumbed to neo-patrimonialism and warlord/clan organization promoted within the capital city of Mogadishu. This instability resulted in the eventual collapse of a recognizable Somali government in 1991. The United States has since remained minimally involved with the Federal Republic, only committing resources for the sake of promoting “stability” worldwide. This meaningless relationship between the failed state and the US has since been rectified in the early months of 2013. The United States during that year had recognized the government within Somalia and its President Mahmoud, for the first time in over two decades.
With the existence of a recognizable government, the US has since promoted a definite foreign policy between the two nations. The US perspective of Somalia is both heavily shaped by both foreign interests and the global opinion of a “Rising Africa”. Somalia currently receives over a billion dollars in foreign aid from the US, and falls under multiple international organizations and initiatives funded by the US, Feed the Future and African Women’s Entrepreneurship. The US African Growth and Opportunity Act also affect Somalia, which was devised to stimulate growth and attention into the continent by the global economy. The more immediate motivations for budding Somali and US relations pertains to the recent global movement against radical terrorism. The Somali National Army has garnered the support of the US, in its eradication of Al-Shabaab influence on the nation’s youth and politics. Besides diplomatic relations, the Somali nation provides very little incentive to the US governments ongoing presence within the Horn. Somalia’s response to this is what one would expect from a non-great or secondary power. Any positive relationship with an international partner is one to be maintained and to be pursued. Somalia leaders acknowledge the challenges of domestic recovery in order for the US to develop relations, and are steadfast in the pursuit of a better Somalia. The government has even claimed pride as a successful model for striking back against terrorism and insurgency, and supports US influence within its border. Nonetheless, the US maintains its foothold in Africa, with its pursuit of a stable and economically prosperous Somalia.