U.S. Sending First Ambassador to Somalia Since “Black Hawk Down” Incident

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 4 2014 3:00 PM

U.S. Sending First Ambassador to Somalia Since “Black Hawk Down” Incident

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Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

The United States will be appointing its first ambassador to Somalia since the infamous 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident that left 18 American soldiers dead.

Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said in a speech on Tuesday that, in spite of Somalia’s chaotic past, the U.S. government now sees signs of improvement in the economic and security situations there. For a country long regarded as a failed state, the State Department’s decision demonstrates a show of faith in Somalia’s government that hasn’t existed in decades.

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Since activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president in September 2012, ties between Somalia and Western governments have strengthened. Last year, Great Britain became the first European Union state to reopen its embassy, choosing to place it in Mogadishu’s fortified airport.

In a bid to distance the country from its anarchic recent history, Mohamud has made attempts to end the civil strife in Somalia and create a stable governing coalition. According to the Guardian, militant Islamists have been driven out of the capital and expatriate Somalis have been returning home since the new constitution was passed in 2012.

Sherman acknowledged that the “path ahead remains rocky and uphill," but she added that as long as Somalis continue to work together, they will have support from the international community.

No names have been mentioned as potential appointees, but Sherman said that the appointment would happen soon.

Irene Chidinma Nwoye is a writer and Slate intern in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.