The Somali government has agreed to pay lobbying firm Sonoran Policy Group (SPG) $100,000 per month until December 2018 to engage in lobbying efforts aimed at removing Somalia from U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban and re-opening part of the military aid suspended last December.
The agreement also stipulates SPG – which is comprised of former Trump campaign advisors – will help Somalia schedule a meeting between the White House and Somali President Farmaajo in the U.S.
[PDF: SPG Agreement with Somalia]
Goobjoog News noted that this is the third lobbying firm Somalia has contracted since President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmaajo” was elected in February 2017.
Since the deal was signed by Somalia’s UN Ambassador, the money for the agreement ostensibly should have come out of the Foreign Affairs budget.
The SPG contract represents 15% of the $2.6 million budget allocated directly to the Foreign Affairs Ministry (which is separate from the funding to Somali embassies at $4.8 million.)
Through November 2018, Somalia will be paying lobbyists at least $145,000 per month (Park Strategies at $10,000; BGR at $35,000; SPG at $100,000).
For a country that has consistent problems paying its troops, these agreements should raise questions about whether the cost delivers on substantial benefits.
On the travel ban, there have been serious delays in the process to obtain visa waivers, leading to circumstances such as the following from Sudi, a Somali-American who wants to bring her husband to the U.S. (via VOA):
“I gave birth all by myself in the hospital with my mom instead of my husband. I waited for a while, and I was hoping when the baby turned a couple of months, maybe he would be here. My son turned one, and on his first birthday, his father is still not here,” she said.
The Trump administration is currently fighting a lawsuit alleging the government is not considering waivers in good faith. There is little evidence to suggest Trump is interested in lifting Somalia off his “extreme vetting” executive order, despite the historic gains Somali-Americans such as Ilhan Omar, Mohamud Noor, Hodan Hassan and others who are reaching new political milestones in their communities.
In a broader context, SPG owner Robert Stryk and CEO Christian Bourge are just two examples of many former Trump campaign advisors-turned-lobbyists who have fallen back on selling their access to the White House after failing to secure senior political appointments after Trump was elected.
In this specific case, these advisors helped candidate Trump get elected, leading to an implementation of a policy largely prohibiting several Muslim-majority countries’ citizens from entering the U.S.
Now, as lobbyists, these advisors are profiting from an effort to help Somalia get off the travel ban list.
In the end, it’s a bit like seeking relief from the doctor’s office that made you sick in the first place.
Categories: Int'l Community in Somalia