Trend Monitoring Report: The Somali surprise. An elusive peace?

Many a reader might be tempted to think that Somalia is a distant country and that its politics (or conflicts) have nary an impact on whatever might go on around them. Wrong. If there are any lessons that we should have learnt in the last two decades, it is that there are hardly any more local conflicts left. The vast movement of Diasporas and connections between local (globalized) populations and other 'globalized citizens' means that grievances are no longer confined in time and place.

 

Why Somalia matters?

Through an accurate research and analysis of the country data it is actually possible to draw a self-evident but untold truth. If you look beyond the country's image of chaos, as it is usually depicted, Somalia is not an alien planet and its main features are in line with average neighbouring countries. Furthermore current cross-border dynamics suggest us to look at this issue with a less security/terror driven attitude.

The international community and GHEA (Greater Horn of East Africa) countries in particular should reflect on the social dimension of the Somali puzzle concerning the sense of being a Somali citizen in and off the country, meaning living in neighboring countries as well as in different continents. In this respect the report does not fail to address the 'second generation' issue with a view to figure out how the average youth dynamics usually featuring dissent, are in this case at risk of political and religious radicalization.

A critical lesson to be drawn from the current events is to improve the integration process in order to prevent this 'lost generation' from becoming a recruiting subject by Al-Shabaab. As suggested in the report a military solution will definitely not provide a lasting solution. Hence in order to build future scenarios for the region and alternative paths to a durable solution we must address the root causes of the conflict.

Who profits from the conflict?

This is the question we must not fear to pose though possible answers should uncover responsibilities of so called international actors. With respect to the future of Somalia we also need to assume that any government that emerges will not last if it cannot command popular support of the Somali people, with a view to the somehow successful experiences of Somaliland and Puntland whose patterns of independence are still not recognized by the international community.

This issue of the GHEA Outlook explores various aspects of the situation prevailing and offers them up for further discussion. It argues that the Somali situation matters and that its continued escalation bodes ill for the nascent East African integration project. It also argues that GHEA's leaders have two broad choices going forward. One is to exercise a military option in response to the perceived threat to regional stability posed by Al-Shabaab. The second is to take bold, proactive steps in support of the search for a lasting solution by the Somali people themselves.

Read the full report

  • In this issue:
  • Part 1: National interests and regional ambitions
  • Part 2: Fragments falling off? Somaliland and Puntland
  • Part 3: Looking ahead: the political challenge and eastern Africa's responsibility
  • Part 4: Thinking outside the box