Ilhan Omar: I Did Not Say Somalis ‘Call the Shots’ or America Will ‘Do What I Tell Them to Do’

Marjorie Taylor Greene blasted Ilhan Omar after a video surfaced online claiming that Omar had suggested that the United States government would “follow orders” from Somalians. The controversial comments appeared in a video posted to YouTube and circulated online with captions, but these captions have not been verified. In the video, Omar allegedly says, “The US government will only do what Somalians in the US tell them to do.” It’s important to note that Somali wording is difficult to translate into English, and Omar is reportedly speaking about U.S. policy regarding the Somaliland-Ethiopian Naval Base Agreement. A larger clip of Omar’s comments was circulated by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Republic of Somaliland, implying bias in the translation, as Omar is criticizing Somaliland and referring to them as “Somali imposters.” Rhoda J Elmi, the Deputy Minister, accused Omar of using “racist” rhetoric.

Omar’s comments are difficult to pinpoint, as she is speaking in Somali and vacillates between her own perspective and the perspective of Somalis in general, speaking up for their rights. Also raising eyebrows was an alleged assertion that Somalis like herself are country first, not the United States, but Somalia. Greene immediately criticized Omar over the alleged comments, calling her a “terrorist sympathizer,” a phrase that she has used before to describe her colleague, and noting her lack of mention that she is an American. Omar stated that the translation of her comments is “not only slanted but completely off,” and her grasp of the Somali language is atrocious. She has a history of defending controversial remarks by pointing to misinterpretations, most notably regarding her widely reported anti-Semitic comments.