The United States government’s recent recognition of Somalia’s new government is no cause for hope for the Somali people. Official recognition brings official largess in the form of development aid that will do little to promote development. Worse yet, recognition might help to legitimize what is likely to be yet another oppressive African government.
In a White House ceremony with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the recently elected president of Somalia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “I’m very pleased that... we are taking this historic step of recognizing the government.” Most news stories have reported the event as a good sign for progress in the region. Unfortunately, official recognition is likely to do more harm than good for the average Somali.
President Mohamud and his government will benefit from official recognition because they are now eligible for official development grants from the World Bank, IMF, and USAID. More than $2 trillion has been given in official development assistance since 1950, but there is little to show for it other than flush Swiss bank accounts for former government officials.