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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Can Somalia be saved?

The upbeat new leader of the world’s frailest state is banking on his deep connections with the US

On 20th February, Stephen Schwartz, the first United States ambassador to Somalia for 25 years, visited the capital Mogadishu to congratulate newlyelected President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as “Farmajo.” Schwartz (appointed by Barack Obama) presented Farmajo with a gift: a blue-and-white cap with the slogan “Make Somalia Great Again.” When I first saw the photo of their meeting, I assumed it was a spoof from the Onion. Somalia had just been listed as one of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens Donald Trump wanted to ban from entering the US. But then the US Mission to Somalia proudly tweeted it, leaving Somalis dumbfounded at how an American diplomat could make light of the situation.

Somalia is a country of 10m people, plagued by corruption, jihadi violence and—most recently—a devastating famine. Farmajo has described the current drought, the country’s third in the last 25 years, as a “national disaster.” The United Nations has said that conditions in the region amount to the world’s “largest humanitarian crisis” since 1945. Sixteen million could be affected across four East African countries including South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. In Somalia, 2.9m people are at immediate risk. When Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met Farmajo in March, he pledged £110m to help. But continuing violence means little aid is delivered to the worst affected areas.

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In Prospect’s May issue: Neal Ascherson, Simon Jenkins, John Curtice and Frances Cairncross examine the growing divide between England and Scotland. Ascherson argues that England has become Scotland’s “neurotic neighbour,” while Jenkins says we should learn from history and prepare for Scotland to leave the Union. Cairncross and Curtice debate whether Scotland could afford to break with England and whether a fresh referendum on independence is actually winnable. Also in this issue: Jason Burke questions whether the world will be a safer place after the downfall of Islamic State, Paul Hilder examines how politics got tangled in the web and Michael White reviews a new book charting the history of the Daily Mail