BOSASO, Puntland – A U.S. delegation planning to visit Bosaso, the commercial capital of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, was forced to abort their trip on Monday amid rising tensions with local authorities. This marks the second disrupted visit in as many months, further straining U.S. cooperation with Puntland in critical security efforts.

The delegation aimed to bolster counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. and Puntland against extremist groups like al-Shabaab and ISIS. For over two decades, the U.S. has provided security assistance to Puntland, often working directly with the Puntland Security Force (PSF).

However, relations have deteriorated since Said Abdullahi Deni became Puntland’s president in 2019. Deni has systematically reduced cooperation between the U.S. and PSF-trained forces. Matters came to a head in 2021 when Puntland troops waged conflict against the PSF headquarters, steadily eroding ties.

After a controversial re-election, Deni had sought to rebuild relations with the PSF to reinvigorate counterterrorism operations. In March, a previous U.S. delegation’s visit to meet PSF officers was abruptly canceled by Deni for unexplained reasons, despite reported discussions facilitated by the U.S. Embassy in Somalia.

The Puntland presidency again obstructed efforts. Early Monday, Puntland troops deployed near Bosaso’s airport, blocking the PSF from welcoming the American visitors as planned. The PSF commander alerted the U.S. group about the rapidly changing situation.

According to reliable source, the US Embassy in Somalia has been in close contact with President Deni, after the previous call in March 2024, and informed him of the purpose of their trip today, Monday, and who they are going to.

Analysts suggest Deni’s administration may be precipitating military confrontations to undermine U.S. engagement with the PSF forces they once partnered with closely.

Deni recently severed ties with Somalia’s federal government and requested the international community, including the U.S., instead work directly with Puntland – especially on humanitarian aid and developments, which he claims has been lacking from Mogadishu.

So it is being questioned how Deni’s cooperation overtures toward the international community are compatible with his obstructionist stance toward the U.S. delegation, one of Somalia’s closest partners. These mixed signals have raised doubts over his government reliability as tensions with American counterterrorism efforts escalate.

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