African Nations Bypass Embassies, Tap Lobbyists

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As gunshots rang out in the background, then-Prime Minister of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed called his man in the United States.

It was 2011, and fighting around Mohameds fortified location in Mogadishu was commonplace. John Zagame had grown used to hearing gunshots and mortar fire during his daily phone conversations with the premier. They discussed the state of play in Mogadishu and how best to approach key leaders in the Obama administration and Congress for help.

But Zagame did not work for an embassy, nor was he a diplomat.

Rather, Zagame was a vice president at Park Stra