Skip to content

Obama nominates career diplomat, Schwartz new envoy to Somalia

Storyline:National News, World

President Barack Obama has nominated career diplomat Stephen Michael Schwartz as the new ambassador to Somalia more than seven months after former nominee Katherine Dhanani declined to take up the position.

The White House announced yesterday in its website Obama had nominated Schwartz whose career spans over a 30 year period starting as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon from 1981 to 1983.

US-Somali relations

His appointment marks a major milestone in U.S-Somali relations which have significantly been restored following over twenty years hiatus since the U.S closed its embassy in Mogadishu in 1991 following the fall government in Mogadishu. Somalia’s flag in Washington came down the same year, May 8, 1991. The Black Hawk Down debacle (the Battle of Mogadishu) in 1993 sunk relations between the two states even the more.

Somalia opened its Washington embassy last November and appointed Ambassador Ahmed Issa Awad. On the other hand, the U.S set up the U.S Mission to Somalia based in Nairobi and headed by a chargé d’affaires  September last year.

Senate approval

Schwartz whose appointment lies with approval from the US senate currently serves as Director of the Office of Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Affairs in the Department of State, a position he has held since August 2015.

He has also served in various diplomatic capacities in Kenya, Burundi, and Ethiopia, New Zealand, Zambia among other countries.

The US remains among few western and Eastern powers with no full diplomatic presence in Somalia. Britain, Italy, Turkey and China have established embassies in Somalia.

Secretary John Kerry’s visit to Mogadishu in May last year signified Obama administration intent to re-establish foot print in the Horn of Africa nation. During the visit, Somali government announced it gave Kerry the land title deed for the embassy which is located in Mogadishu’s Medina district.

The US has been actively involved in Somalia on its war on terror with reports indicating it runs a drone base in the Kismayo airport besides the main military base in Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.

The US officially recognised the new Somali government in January 7, 2013.