With the election race heating up, both political parties raise the bar on their rhetoric. Ilhan Omar’s recent Somali language speech to a group of community leaders saw her mention herself as “Somali-first.” Now, Republican Ron DeSantis is calling for her deportation. Let’s see why he thinks she should be sent to Somalia.

Protecting Somali Interests As a Senator

During the speech, Ilhan Omar spoke fluent Somali and told the guests that as long as she was a member of the US Senate, she would ensure that Somali interests were represented. DeSantis saw a recording of this speech, which provoked his outburst.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/ AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Omar’s speech was in response to a geopolitical issue where Ethiopia acknowledged the existence of a rebel sub-state within Somalia in exchange for access to a port. Omar reassured her supporters that she would promote Somalia’s best interests in the US Senate.

Somali First and Muslim Second

Among the highlights of Omar’s speech was her statement that she supported the Somalis in their independence and that as long as she was around, she would be a voice to stand up for them in the Senate.

Source: Twitter/X

She noted that they saw themselves as Somali first and Muslim second. Her adamant statement is that as long as she was around, no one, not even Ethiopia, would steal Somalia’s waters or infringe on their state. While it seemed to allay the fears of her audience, it caused new fears for Republicans like DeSantis.

DeSantis Calls for Her Expulsion

Following her statements, DeSantis quickly pointed out that Omar was saying things that raised many red flags for Americans. Somalia has an indirect economic relationship with Iran, which is proving to be one of the troublemakers for American diplomacy in the Middle East.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Immediately after DeSantis saw the speech, he called for the expulsion of Omar from the country, along with stripping her of her seat in Congress and removing her right to live in the country.

A Back-And-Forth Game

Islamic sentiment in the US seems to be rising, and several members of the Democrat party have thrown accusations of alignment with Israel. The US has historically supported Israel and the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. However, some senators like Omar are unhappy with this position.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Omar is well-known for her anti-Israel sentiments, and she has complained about the double standard in the past. In a recent speech, she stated that she doesn’t understand why an uproar ensues every time she mentions the NRA, a lobbying group for gun ownership that is heavily Republican.

Omar’s Comments Aren’t Only About the US

While she has been very vocal about her anti-Israel stance and the support the country gets from the US, she has also spoken out about the state of geopolitics in Africa. Her comments about being “Somali-first” align with the issues she highlights in the African continent.

Source: Flickr/CharlesFred

The most recent situation comes on the heels of Ethiopia’s recognition of Somaliland in exchange for a port. Somaliland is a sub-state occupied by what the official government of Somalia considers a rebel faction.

Coming Out in Support of Somalia

Omar stated that she would forward the cause of Somalia and decried the cooperation between Somaliland and Ethiopia. She stated that America would help to free the “occupied” territories of Djibouti, Somaliland, and Kenya’s North Eastern Province.

Source: Flickr/tristam sparks

Whether the US will really assist in doing this remains to be seen. The US’s military and diplomatic resources seem to be stretched thin over several areas, including the Middle East, Taiwan, and Yemen.

Overstepping Her Mandate

In another part of the speech, Omar was quick to point out that the US will only do what Somalis in the US tell them to do. She states that the US will follow orders and do what needs to be done and nothing else. This was probably to assuage fears that the US may lead an invasion of Somalia in exchange for asking for help.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Yet even the suggestion that the US will get involved in Somalia is still uncertain. The US has already provided a significant amount of aid to Somalia through USAID. Still, they have not yet committed any troops or displayed any intention of helping Somalia with military intervention.

Republicans Have Been Staunchly Anti-Muslim In the Past

Since the days of Bush’s war on terrorism, the GOP has skewed towards anti-Muslim sentiment. A Republican comment in 2021 led to the House passing an anti-Islamophobia bill that would hold more members accountable for statements that may be considered slurs towards the Muslim community.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Recent action by Israel in the Middle East against Palestine has galvanized a large portion of the US to the Palestinian cause. The US government is strongly allied with Israel, but even so, they have warned Israel against prosecuting this war.

The Importance of a Deal for Somalia

Somalia’s neighbor in Africa, Ethiopia, recently declared support and recognition for a rebel faction controlling a part of Somalia known as Somaliland. This undermines the legitimate government of Somalia and gives the rebel faction some legitimacy.

Source: Flickr/UNSOM

Somalia’s current regime can manage to keep the nation under control to a certain point but is in no condition to wage war against Somaliland to bring it back under control. The hope of American intervention means that the country may once again be reunited. However, this remains to be seen if it will happen.

How Likely Is It That Ilhan Omar Will Be Deported?

As with most Republican calls like this on the edge of extreme, DeSantis’ statements will probably be put down to exuberance. No one really thinks Omar is a traitor to the US, and it’s unlikely that anyone will pay attention to Republicans’ calls for her to be deported.

Source: Flickr/brads651

However, it’s crucial to notice that her words to her Somali supporters may be wishful thinking at best and misleading at worst. If she manages to convince the US to take action in Somaliland, it may open an even more complex geopolitical problem. At this point, the US can’t afford to tip a single domino because the effect on the world may be catastrophic.