• The Re-Invention of Al Shabaab: A Strategy of Choice or Necessity?

    By Matt Bryden, Center for Strategic and International Studies | August 2013 — The deadly attack on Kenya’s Westgate mall in September 2013, in which al Shabaab militants killed more than 70 people, exemplifies a shift in the extremist group’s aims, strategy, and composition following its steady loss of influence in Somalia. New leadership has refocused the group on international jihad, which is likely to sustain its relevance even as regional and international forces seize control of al Shabaab strongholds in Somalia. However, internal tensions and depleted strength leave al Shabaab vulnerable. Efforts to build a more legitimate and effective government in Somalia will further undermine the group.

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  • Somalia Redux? Assessing the New Somali Federal Government

    By Matt Bryden, Center for Strategic and International Studies | August 2013 A new Somali federal government was established in 2012 to a wave of international optimism, including some comparisons to the transformational effects of the Arab Spring. However, the new government must address three key challenges that it has largely ignored in its proposed strategy to stabilize the country. First, an inclusive political process is needed to address the local grievances that have been exploited by the Islamic militant group al Shabaab to mobilize support. The second involves tackling pervasive corruption that discredited and weakened the preceding transitional authorities and dampened an economic recovery. Lastly, basic electoral procedures and institutions must be established to hold a constitutional referendum, national elections, and other polls critical to ending the government’s transitional nature.

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  • Community-Led Stabilization in Somalia

    By Siris Hartkorn, Forced Migration Review | 2011 Access by international actors to provide humanitarian assistance in Somalia is complicated by the presence of numerous Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs). While many are dangerous and predatory, some NSAGs are viewed as legitimate among the local population and community. Although controversial, engaging with comparatively responsible and legitimate NSAGs through community safety projects to ensure civilian security may be necessary and productive in cases like Somalia, where central state authority is severely limited.

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  • Arms Flows and the Conflict in Somalia

    By Pieter D. Wezeman, SIPRI Background Paper | October 2010 International responses to the protracted instability in Somalia have included both general restrictions on arms supplies and arming specific actors. However, such efforts have generated significant human rights and regional instability risks. Countries seeking to support stabilization efforts should consider channels that are more closely monitored such as through the African Union or directly to its Somalia peacekeeping mission instead of to troop-contributing countries or the Somalia transitional government.

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