Somaliland has been de facto independent for 30 years. The U.S. should recognize this and build a fact-based policy that better serves its strategic interests.

Joshua MeserveyBy Joshua Meservey,

Senior Policy Analyst, Africa, and the Middle east

The U.S. should recognize Somaliland as an independent country. In practice, the territory is not now, nor is likely to be, a part of Somalia. Acknowledging that reality would allow Washington to create more effective policy in an important and contested region.

A strong relationship with an independent Somaliland would hedge against the U.S. position further deteriorating in Djibouti, which is increasingly under Chinese sway.


It would demonstrate the benefits Washington confers on those who embrace representative government and would allow the U.S. to better support the territory’s tenacious, but still-consolidating, democracy.

An independent Somaliland would be a stable partner that has little risk of experiencing the tumult that frustrates American interests elsewhere in the volatile region. Somalilanders deserve the justice of having their decades-long practice of independence recognized and should be allowed to disassociate from the dysfunction of southern Somalia that hinders their development.

Joshua Meservey

Joshua Meservey is the Senior Policy Analyst for Africa and the Middle East at the Heritage Foundation.

Joshua MeserveyHe studies African geopolitics, counterterrorism, and refugee policy. He is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Zambia and extended his service there to work for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Afterwards he joined Church World Service (CWS) based out of Nairobi, Kenya, and traveled extensively in East and Southern Africa interviewing refugees. He ended his time at CWS as Field Team Manager responsible for a multinational team of nearly 100 staff. He later worked at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and helped write an Army concept paper, and then joined the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center before joining The Heritage Foundation.

He has testified twice before the Senate, four times before the House of Representatives, and once before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is the lead author of a monograph on al-Shabaab’s insurgency and contributed a chapter to the book War and Peace in Somalia published by Oxford University Press. He has written pieces for a wide range of publications including Foreign Affairs, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the National Interest, the Hill, and various journals. His commentary is often featured in various print and digital media outlets, and he has presented at the National Defense University and the State Department.

Meservey holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA in history from the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University.

He lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.

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