It’s not just those lunchtime margaritas messing with your brain—John Kerry finally did something productive.

John Kerry went to Somalia. He’s the first U.S. Secretary of State ever to do it, and the most senior U.S. official to make the journey since President George H.W. Bush went in 1992 as part of a massive humanitarian operation.

The country—and especially the capital of Mogadishu—is so unstable that Kerry was unable to leave the heavily-fortified airport. He met there with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and other civil leaders, and released a video message to civilians discussing the importance of reclaiming a functioning government.

From NBC News:

Kerry was greeted upon arrival in Mogadishu by Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who called the visit “a great moment” for his nation.

“I’m glad to be here,” Kerry said, asking if the president had spent a “long time” waiting for his arrival.

“It’s worth waiting,” Mohamud replied.

A senior State Department official said the “historic” visit would “send a strong signal” to the Somali people about U.S. commitment to the nation.

“It will send a strong signal to al Shabab that we are not turning our backs on the Somali people and that we will continue to engage with Somalia until we bring al Shabab’s terror to an end,” the official said ahead of the visit.

(I think it’s worth noting that neither Kerry, nor the State Department, nor the Administration as a whole, is being overly cautious when it comes to security in Mogadishu. Choosing to remain at the airport was not a cowardly move. It really is that bad.)

Al-Shabaab is still causing problems for the people of Somalia. Back in March, a suicide bombing kicked off a siege at a downtown hotel by the Islamic militants lasted for over 12 hours and left 17 people dead.

Then, in mid-April, the group attacked stormed the Somalia Higher Education Ministry and killed ten people via suicide car bomb and heavy gunfire. (Note: the Ministry is kept under heavy, armed guard.)

In the last days of April, al-Shabaab again attacked, this time targeting Somali and UN officials:

Somalia’s al Shabaab militants killed two city council officials, a former parliamentarian and a senior prison officer in Mogadishu, police and the rebel group said on Sunday.

The al Qaeda-allied group has stepped up its gun and bomb attacks in the Horn of Africa nation over the past week. Six people were killed in an attack on a vehicle carrying U.N. staff in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on Monday, and a suicide bomber killed 10 in a restaurant in Mogadishu on Tuesday.

Gunmen shot dead the former lawmaker and two city council officials on Saturday, and a senior prison officer was killed near the Bakara market in Mogadishu on Sunday, Major Nur Afrah, a police officer, told Reuters.

They also claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 148 people at a Kenyan university.

And blew up 7 people who were having lunch.

This visit was brave, and historic, and should be in the headlines—it’s a great optic that puts al-Shabaab on notice; but that doesn’t mean that the end game will be everything we want it to be. Kerry said he “…visited Somalia today because [the] country is turning around,” but any language that optimistic makes me nervous.

My nerves are justified. “Footprints” were discussed:

The secretary of state and Somali President HassanSheikh Mohamud discussed the fight against al-Shabaab and plans for 2016 elections, said Daud Awies, a spokesman for the Somali leader. Somali officials have said the vote will go forward as planned, despite security concerns.

A senior State department official who briefed reporters ahead of the trip said the elections will likely be “not elections as we know them,” but that Washington expected a process that would allow a representative government to be chosen.

Somali Foreign Minister Abdisalam Omar said they also discussed reopening a U.S. embassy in Mogadishu and assistance with military training and equipment. The previous embassy closed in 1991 and consular affairs are now handled in Nairobi.

“We’re making plans to make our presence more enduring in Somalia,” the senior State department official said. The official added the U.S. main diplomatic mission would continue to be in Kenya for the near future, but that the U.S. “footprint” in Somalia will be larger.

I’m nervous because I don’t know what that means. I don’t know how this Administration will translate whatever intelligence they’re fielding out of the region to make decisions about what it will mean. The Obama Administration’s knee-jerk diplomacy has caused more trouble in more parts of the world than it has helped; imagine that trouble magnified by 1000, and thrown into the most infamously devolved state on the planet without a true, native leadership structure to control it.

We’re talking about a country that has lacked a true government for more than two decades. Terror reigns supreme. The people who remain don’t understand diplomacy—they understand what it means to be hungry, to be poor, and to die at the hands of both local warlords and internationally-backed terror organizations.

Does the Obama Administration understand that? Will it play into their strategy to increase our “footprint” in this Hell?

I’m nervous.

Featured image via the Daily Mail.


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