The new U.S. ambassador to Somalia has presented his diplomatic credentials to Somali president at a ceremony inside the heavily fortified African Union force’s main base Saturday, a move that marks the formal beginning of the veteran diplomat’s diplomatic mission in the horn of Africa nation.
Donald Yamamato takes the job amid a new US military pressure against the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab which has seen increase in airstrikes by the US forces that killed hundreds of militants in recent months in what appeared to be a response to recent deadly attacks by the group including the deadliest bombing in the Somali capital on Oct. 14 last year which killed at least 500 people.
Speaking at a joint press conference with president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Mr. Yamamato has pledged commitment by the US in strengthening its bilateral relations with Somalia and assistance in post-conflict rebuilding efforts by the long-chaotic nation which is recovering from decades of civil unrest.
President Mohamed has on his part thanks the US for its assistance, mainly related to the rebuilding of the Somali army, vowing his government’s readiness in restoring of peace and order into the country.
Appointed by president Donald Trump in July, the veteran American diplomat who worked in the US’s diplomatic circles for decades and worked in several African countries is considered to be the most experienced ambassador the US sent to Somalia since its closed its Somalia embassy in Mogadishu after a civil war broke out followed by the withdrawal of the US forces in 1991.
He replaces Stephen Schwartz who has resigned from his post last year.
Who is Donald Yamamato?
Born in 1953 in Seattle, Mr. Yamamato, 65, had graduated from the Columbia University.
At the beginning of his diplomatic career, Mr. Yamamato had entered the United States’ Foreign Service in 1980, serving primarily in Africa, with assignments in the Middle East and Asia.
He received a Master’s Degree from the National War College in 1996 and worked on Capitol Hill on a Congressional Fellowship in 1991.
Fluent in Chinese, Arabic, English, Japanese and French, the American diplomat has also worked in US foreign policy for over 40 years.
Those who know him often describe him as a quiet man, anti-corruption crusade and an advocate of human rights and freedom of the press.
Timing of his nomination
As Yamamato takes the lead for the US Somalia mission, there are number of issues that experts say led to his nomination by Trump.
- Geopolitical considerations and economic interests in Somalia which is harboring ambitions by several countries trying to raise the US influence in the country.
- Terrorism and political crisis pitting the central government against regional states remain to be key issues facing the new US diplomat.
- Improving US-Somalia relations as the horn of Africa nation is caught up in a regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on one side, with Qatar backed by Turkey on the other over the country’s natural resources.