Tag Archives: Somalia
The below are excerpts from an article originally appearing in World Politics Review.
Later this month, Somalia’s eight-year political transition is scheduled to end with the declaration of a “post-transition” government. Casual observers will be forgiven for assuming such a step signals that, after 21 years of complete state collapse, a functional central government in Somalia is now in place.
The reality is that the post-transition government will be unable to project its authority beyond much of the capital, Mogadishu. Most of the country and parts of the capital itself remain under the de facto control of autonomous strongmen, self-proclaimed regional states, clan militias and the jihadi group al-Shabab. Of these, only al-Shabab has demonstrated any will and capacity to impose basic law and order in its areas of control, but the group is losing ground to multiple armed offensives and is focusing its waning energies on war-fighting, not administration. (more…)
In the aftermath of the conference in London on Somalia, I offer a wrap-up of the best articles and books to read on the country.
In the past week, there has been a number of excellent pieces on what the international community has done wrong in the past, and how it might do better going forward.
In general, they all suggest that the focus should be on what is working—in places such as Somaliland, Puntland, and Galmudug—rather than on any foreign blueprint for success.
Past initiatives have repeatedly attempted to impose a centralized bureaucratic governing structure on the country, a structure ill-suited to Somali society. Such efforts have never been effective and have only aggravated domestic tensions. (more…)
The Nordic Africa Institute has published an excellent paper on one of the world’s most conflict prone regions: the Horn of Africa (which, broadly defined, encompasses Somalia/Somaliland, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and parts of Kenya, Sudan, and Southern Sudan).
Kidane Mengisteab, the author, does an especially good job analyzing “the core and contextual factors” that underlay the large number of “inter-state, intra-state and communal” conflicts that have long plagued the region. By examining history, social relationships, the fragmentation of institutions, and regional politics, the paper is able to get at the driving forces that have created vicious cycles of social exclusion, weak government, and zero sum competition for resources. It correctly articulates that any solution will have to include simultaneous efforts on “diversity management, nation-building, democratization, and institutional reform at all levels.” (more…)
Readers could make a real contribution to the people of Somalia by taking their yachts over to the Horn of Africa:
Piracy off the coast of Somalia may be a global scourge costing $12bn a year, but a new report argues ransoms deliver much-needed development to the failed state.
The average hijacking ransom brings in the equivalent of the export of 1,650 heads of cattle, while keeping hostages – 1,016 were captured in 2010 – provides jobs for local cooks, producers and traders, according to the report by Chatham House. It calculates up to 100 people are needed to secure every hijacked ship.
“Piracy appears to lead to widespread economic development,” says the report’s author Anja Shortland, who argues the flow of ransom payments has helped to boost the local exchange rate, to raise real wages and to reduce inflation.In the absence of a functioning state that has failed to eliminate al-Qaeda-linked rebels further south, the report says pirates provide “local governance and stability”.
Seed money from ransoms, which garnered a record $135m last year, has helped set up dozens of trucking companies that have reduced transport costs of staples such as rice, even as global inflation bit hard and a regional food crisis helped plunge Somalia further south of pirate strongholds into famine. . . .
While the report acknowledges some piracy money goes into drugs and flashy cars, Ms Shortland, a development economist at Brunel University, argues instead that the benefits stretch far wider than a pirate financier elite. She says any abrupt military solution that stopped piracy would deprive thousands of people of jobs and “quite noticeable trickle-down”.