Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced trip to Somalia Tuesday in a show of solidarity with a government trying to defeat Al Qaeda-allied militants and end decades of war in the African country. He is first top U.S. diplomat ever to visit Somalia.
Kerry arrived at Mogadishu’s airport around noon local time (5 a.m. ET) and immediately entered a series of planned meetings that include Somalia’s president, prime minister and regional leaders, and civil society groups.
The trip was made under tight security conditions. Somalia’s government only found out a day ago that Kerry would join the State Department’s top Africa official, Linda Greenfield-Thomas, on the voyage. And the fact that he was only dipping his toe in Somalia, and not venturing past the airport, highlighted just how dangerous and instable the country remains.
Top of the agenda is the fight against al-Shabab. African forces and U.S. drone strikes have crippled the organization’s leadership in recent years and left the extremists without much of the territory they once controlled or the cash flows needed to reverse their losses.