For the full version of this essay, download the pdf here (pdf, 260 KB). Somalia has made international headlines for almost two decades now, first as a state of civil war characterized by clan warfare and humanitarian catastrophe, then as a failed state, and finally as a potential safe haven for Islamic terrorists. Contrary to the assumption […]
The Horn of Africa is one of the most complex and conflicted regions of the world. Each of the countries of the Horn—Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Sudan—suffers from protracted political strife, arising from local and national grievance, identity politics and regional inter-state rivalries. For 150 years, the Horn has also been a theater for strategic power struggles—the British Empire’s demand to control the Red Sea, Egypt’s attempt to control the Nile Waters, the Cold War confrontation in which each of the principal countries of the Horn switched sides at crucial junctures, and most recently the U.S. Administration’s “Global War on Terror.”
The rise of the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, the Ethiopian invasion to install the President Abdullahi Yousif in power, and the U.S. bombing raids aimed at suspected al Qa’ida members have again highlighted the turbulence of the Horn. The resurgent conflict in Somalia comes against the backdrop of a successful exercise in locally-driven reconstruction in Somaliland (north-west Somalia), an unresolved war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, internal political crises in both countries, and a host of active, latent and imminent conflicts in Sudan. Meanwhile, African institutions—notably the African Union, headquartered in Addis Ababa—are struggling to establish new principles and an architecture for regional peace and security.
This collection brings together social science analysis that delves beneath the news headlines into the complexities of the social and political crises afflicting the region.
Introduction For a long time Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State or Ogaden has been a theatre of violent confrontation between the Somalis living there and the Ethiopian authorities. Through history such conflicts have been launched under different pretexts by different groups (Hagmann, 2005). Religion played a prominent role in the campaigns of Ahmed Guray in the […]
The political future of Somalia will at least partly be decided in northern Somalia. In this regard, the recent escalation of conflict in the Sool region, in the central north of Somalia, merits closer attention and analysis. On Monday, 1 October 2007, Puntland and Somaliland armed forces clashed near Laascaanood, the capital of Sool region. […]
Introduction Thirty years after the 1977/78 war between Ethiopia and Somalia the Ogaden is back in the international limelight. Following a major attack on a Chinese-operated oil field in Degehabur district of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State or region 5 by the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in April 2007, the Ethiopian military undertook major […]
How do genocides end from the point of view of those most harmed? Often genocides only end when those targeted flee to a safe place. The best way to end a genocide may be to get those targeted out of harm’s way in a hurry. For survivors, genocide ends when they feel they have regained […]
The first months of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) ‘residence’ in Mogadishu has seen a severe deterioration in security in Mogadishu. By all accounts the TFG and its Ethiopian allies are generally restricted to key strategic points in the city. Much of the sprawling suburbs of west and northwest Mogadishu—Hodan, Hawlwadaag, Wardhigley, Yaqshid, Huruwa that […]
‘When the Janjaweed attacked our village, they came shooting and burning from all directions,’ rape victim Jamila Bochra Moham told a reporter in the summer of 2006. ‘I tried to run away, but they told me to stop or they would kill me. I was raped by five armed men. I saw other women raped […]
Overview This essay develops an analysis of the Somali conflict that stands apart from the generally accepted wisdom that the country has fractured along clan lines, because of the inherent incapacity of the clan system of politics to provide the basis for a modern state. There is a contrary argument to be made that, even […]
Introduction The current crisis in the Horn of Africa, including the Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia in pursuit of what Ethiopia perceives as its legitimate national security interest—namely to ensure that the Transitional Federal Government defeats its adversary, the Union of Islamic Courts—has led in some circles to much polarized and simplistic thinking and analysis […]
Introduction There are indications that the Americans have finally taken their revenge, and made it clear that it was the motive of air attacks on the SCIC terrorist bases around Ras Kamboni at the southern tip of the Somalia coast, where certain Al-Qaeda terrorists were reportedly hiding. Revenge is the honourable thing to do in […]