This is cool news: Ambassador John Yates will come out of retirement to serve as U.S. special envoy to Somalia. He has apparently already been leading the Somalia unit at our embassy in Kenya, so it's great that his status will properly reflect the work he does. Ambassador Yates spent most of his diplomatic career in Africa and is well-positioned to monitor events in Somalia on our country's behalf. We have long needed a fully engaged envoy working on Somalia issues, as the International Crisis Group has long pointed out. This is a good step in the right direction.
On a personal note, back in the day I spent a summer interning at the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon, where Yates was our ambassador at the time. I have always appreciated Ambassador Yates' kindness and his encouragement that I pursue my interest in African politics. He also gave me one of the best pieces of advice for a career Africanist that I've ever received: "take your malaria pills." Congratulations and good luck to Ambassador Yates on this new post!