Senator Jim Risch, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, has criticized Somalia’s handling of the Somaliland-Ethiopia MoU in light of the fight against al-Shabaab, highlighting the tense geopolitical situation in the Horn of Africa

US Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, has strongly criticized Somalia for rejecting the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland.

Senator Risch expressed disbelief at Somalia’s intention to expel Ethiopian troops engaged in fighting the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, a counterterrorism effort supported by the U.S. government.


Risch emphasized that Somalia’s demands regarding Ethiopia’s agreement with Somaliland do not align with U.S.-supported counterterrorism goals.

“The Somali government’s demand that Ethiopia end its agreement with Somaliland or withdraw its troops from the fight against al-Shabaab shows its priorities do not align with US-supported counterterrorism efforts,” he said.

US Senator Criticizes Somalia's Handling of Somaliland-Ethiopia MoU in Light of Al-Shabaab Fight
Republican Sen. Jim Risch, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. Photo by: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Risch urged the Biden administration to reconsider its One Somalia policy, pointing out the conflicting priorities between Somalia and the United States. He concluded by stating, “The Biden administration needs to adjust its policy to reflect this reality.”

The Republican Party shares the Senator’s stance, indicating that if Donald Trump wins the 2024 presidential election, the U.S. One Somalia policy, championed by Ilhan Omar, is likely to be rescinded as it is viewed as misguided and against U.S. interests in the Horn of Africa.

Ilhan Omar has expressed her commitment to advancing Somalia’s interests in the U.S. Congress.

Meanwhile, experts criticize Somalia’s governance and highlight the risks associated with dismissing Ethiopian troops.

J. Peter PhamDr. J. Peter Pham, former U.S. Ambassador and Special Envoy for the Sahel and Great Lakes Regions of Africa stated, “It is evident that the regime in Mogadishu has shown that the interests of Somalia do not coincide with those of the USA, not only in terms of counterterrorism. If the Biden administration does not make corrections, Senator Jim Risch and other members of Congress should exercise oversight and withhold aid accordingly.”

Dr. Rashid Garuf, an American scholar, highlighted the support from the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the MoU between Somaliland and Ethiopia. He warned of the potential implications of the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces in Somalia, suggesting that regions currently protected by these forces may seek autonomy in defiance of Mogadishu’s orders.

‘If Ethiopian forces leave Somalia, Al-Shabaab may take control, and Hassan Sheikh does not have the military capacity to protect them. Local leaders will likely defy the orders from Mogadishu, prioritizing security over Hassan Sheikh’s interests. Somalia’s orders to Ethiopia to close its consulate in Puntland and Embassy in Somaliland were ignored,” he stated.

Guled AhmedGuled Ahmed, a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, criticized the delayed U.S. response to the corruption and governance issues under Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo’s leadership.

“The US government and Congress were slow to recognize the corruption and poor governance of Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo, taking 4 to 5 years to demand corrective action,” he said, adding, “Meanwhile, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who had only completed 2 years of his term, received visits from the CIA director and calls from the Secretary of State.”

He accentuated the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s rebuke of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s leadership and the destabilizing impact on Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

“The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is publicly reprimanding him for his detrimental leadership, jeopardizing not only Somalia’s stability but also the entire Horn of Africa region.”

Ahmed questioned whether Hassan Sheikh would even complete his term amid these developments, saying, “This unbelievable turn of events leaves me wondering if Hassan Sheikh will even have the chance to finish his term.”