President Barack Obama issued a memo to Secretary of State, John Kerry on Monday (April 8th) to say that Somalia can receive U.S. military assistance. The order said Somalia is eligible for "defence articles and defence services" under U.S. arms export and foreign aid laws.
Obama's order is an initial step that allows Kerry to consider providing defence aid to Somalia. The United States formally recognized President Mohamud's government on January 17th, the first time Washington has recognized a Somali government since 1991.
This memo, seen as a sign of further improving relations between the US and Somalia, "is not based on any particular new threat assessment or any specific plans to undertake action". Spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Caitlin Hayden, said the aid authorization "does not constitute a decision to provide particular assistance or to change the nature or our assistance for Somalia's security sector".
The United Nations Security Council last month partially lifted an arms embargo on Somalia to strengthen government forces fighting Al Shabaab. Somali President Mohamud said on March 28th that his government expects to receive its first shipment of light weapons within two months. Heavy weapons are still banned under the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia.