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The Problem with Militias in Somalia: Almost Everyone Wants Them Despite Their Dangers

Recommended research   published by Vanda Felbab-Brown, UN Centre for Policy Research on April 14, 2020

Militias can present an attractive alternative to state forces but they carry many risks. Somalia, which hosts many militias, reveals why states and their international partners should resist the urge to create and rely on militias. Some such groups prey on local communities, at times perpetrating serious human rights abuses and enabling mafia-like economic practices. Violent extremist organizations exploit clan and community conflicts and economic grievances. Supporting local conflict resolution within and across communities can begin to alleviate these problems.

Transitioning to National Forces in Somalia: More Than an Exit for AMISOM

Recommended research   published by Fiona Blyth, International Peace Institute on April 22, 2019

Somali and international efforts have shifted to planning for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to transition directly Somali security forces without an interim UN mission. The implementation of the Transition Plan will require new institutions, processes, and commitment to good governance, changing the Somali state and providing lessons for security sector reform. AMISOM’s eventual exit will influence how the AU and the UN mandate and authorize future missions.

Taking Stock of Somalia’s Security Landscape

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on October 17, 2018

In this Africa Center roundtable, Somalia's National Security Advisor shares his vision for establishing a stable Somalia. Priority reforms include strengthening oversight of the security sector and improving security support to rural communities most vulnerable to Al Shabaab.

Q&A: Somalia Charts Security Transition

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on July 17, 2018

Somalia’s National Security Advisor Abdisaid Ali talks about political will, security reforms in Somalia’s Transition Plan, and the commitment to domestic and international coalition building to sustain the country’s progress.

AMISOM’s Hard-Earned Lessons in Somalia

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on May 30, 2018

In an interview with the Africa Center, Simon Mulongo, deputy to the AU Commission in Mogadishu, says that AMISOM’s gains could never have been realized if it had continued to rely on the traditional peacekeeping template.

Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in Somalia

Recommended research   published by Ken Menkhaus, Centre for Security Governance on April 1, 2016

Non-state security providers (NSSPs) in Somalia, often entrenched in clan identity politics and the pursuit of profit, are ubiquitous. Their prevalence undermines efforts by the Somali government to provide legitimate governance and security. Yet they are often the only reliable source of protection and so are used by neighborhoods, businesses, international organizations, and even politicians.... Continue Reading

Negotiating With Violent Criminal Groups

Recommended research   published by Mark Freeman and Vanda Felbab-Brown, Institute for Integrated Transitions on March 31, 2021

Unlike militant groups, violent criminal groups are understood to have a single agenda: to pursue profit. Typically, law enforcement is the preferred response to their activities. However, well-designed and managed negotiation can be one tool for reducing the violence. In 20 case studies across the globe, including two in South Africa, truces, negotiated prison sentences, and legalization worked to varying degrees. Careful preparation including identifying the goal, the stakes involved, and ripeness were key, as was using lessons from peace mediation and transitional justice.

Food Insecurity Crisis Mounting in Africa

Infographic   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on February 16, 2021

Acute food insecurity in Africa has increased by over 60 percent in the past year and threatens to widen further as the effects of COVID-19 exacerbate other drivers such as conflict and political mismanagement.

Taking Stock of Africa’s 2021 Elections

Spotlight   published by Joseph Siegle and Candace Cook on January 12, 2021

Africa is slated to hold 13 national elections in 2021. Roughly half of these are in the Horn and the central Sahel. Reflective of the democratic backsliding observed on the continent in recent years, more than a third of these polls are little more than political theater – aimed at garnering a fig leaf of legitimacy for leaders who arguably lack a popular mandate. A fundamental question for this year’s elections, therefore, isn’t just about who will win, but how these leaders will be viewed afterward. Will the same level of legitimacy be conferred on leaders who stay in office via these stage-managed processes? Until these leaders bear a reputational cost for lowering the bar of electoral integrity, this trend can be expected to continue.

Community Policing Approaches to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Africa

Program Materials  

A virtual academic program cohosted with the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism that focuses on effective community policing as a tool for countering violent extremism. This program provides an opportunity to capture and share insights, experiences, and lessons, among countries and across regions, about both the implementation challenges in community policing and the practical experiences in bridging gaps between the security sector and the communities they are entrusted with protecting and serving

Africa’s Varied COVID Landscapes

Infographic   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on July 13, 2020

There is not a single African COVID-19 trajectory, but rather multiple, distinct risk profiles. These profiles highlight the differentiating role that a free press, government transparency, and conflict play in responding to the pandemic in Africa.