The United States Africa Command spent several days in Berbera working with various branches of Somaliland’s armed forces, including the Somaliland Coast Guard. According to Somaliland government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, Africa Command personnel from Djibouti and Stuttgart were in Berbera for a series of meetings with commanders of various branches of Somaliland’s armed forces to assess areas of cooperation.
Publicly available flight data shows a series of US Military transport planes making multiple trips from Djibouti to Berbera sometimes in the same day from the 4th to the 14th of December 2022.
The latest visit of AFRICOM personnel to Somaliland and Berbera comes as the National Defense Authorization Act is in its final stages of approval. The NDAA contains a historic provision that instructs the United States Departments of Defense, State, and the US government’s aid agency USAID to establish a direct working relationship with Somaliland and report back to congress on progress.
The addition of Somaliland in the National Defense Authorization Act — one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the United States — signals a historic paradigm shift of the United States policy towards Somaliland. In addition, it brings a much-deserved repudiation of the State Department’s skewed view of the region that has clung to a one-Somalia policy for years and kept shuffling billions of tax-payer funds into the most corrupt government in the world as Somalia has spiraled further into chaos and has kept Somaliland essentially isolated.
Although the NDAA provision about Somaliland does not explicitly indicate the positioning of US armed forces or a military base in Somaliland, the United States department of defense, particularly the Africa Command, has shown increased interest in Berbera with high-profile visits that include the May 2022 former Commander General Stephen J. Townsend.
According to diplomatic sources, a delegation from the US Embassy in Somalia led by Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Tim Trenkle, which was scheduled to visit Somaliland during the same period was canceled. It is unclear if the cancellation of the embassy’s mission to Somaliland was related to the Department of Defense personnel in Berbera during the same period.
Prior to being posted to the US Embassy in Somalia two months ago, Mr. Trenkle as served as Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA).
US AFRICOM press office did not respond to inquiries regarding the visit to Berbera and attempts to reach officials from the Foreign Affairs and Interior were unsuccessful.