P102 – Somalia and Ibn Khaldoun: Back to the Future?
8 July, 14:00 – 15:30

Marchal Roland / CNRS, CERI, Sciences Po Paris


The end of the transition in South Somalia was perceived as a great success for the international community and most of the political elites who thought that indeed their country was slowly but steadily getting out of the war situation. The Jihadi movement was unable to react to significant military developments and incrementally most people thought that the situation would get better. For months from September 2012 up to March 2013, they were absolutely right and South Central Somalia had a moment of breath and hope. Yet, events did not unfold the same way afterwards. The government performance became a concern equally shared by Somalis and the international community but not on the same terms; the Jihadi insurgency reasserted itself in Mogadishu and in the succeeding months in Kenya with the attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi. A year after, the situation looks much grimmer: the tendency for any government to fail after a year or so at work seems to happen again and the impact of the Jihadi insurgency is felt much beyond the area it controlled once up to 2011.
This panel will review major changes of that period, whether in politics or in the economy; it will also provide an opportunity to assess western policies to Somalia different regions, the role regional players have on that polity and its cost. It will also put into discussion the current situation in Kenya and debater whether Somali lens are the best way to look at security threat in East Africa.

Ce panel vise à faire le point sur les transformations politiques et économiques que la Somalie (dans toutes ses parties) a connues depuis septembre 2012. Il essaiera également d’évaluer les politiques internationales de reconstruction et de lutte contre al-Shabaab, l’organisation jihadiste et la menace sécuritaire croissante en Afrique de l’est

Paper 1

Bruzzone Anna / University of Warwick

Regional extraversion and state formation: Jubbaland in transnational perspective

Originally conceived as a buffer zone intended to open up a new front in the war against al-Shabaab and stabilise the Kenya-Somalia border, Jubbaland has become the locus of a war of attrition and a hotspot of the federalisation process in Somalia. This paper will discuss the dynamics of state formation in Jubbaland since the capture of Kismayo from al-Shabaab by Kenyan troops and their Somali allies in September 2012. The main focus will lie on the interplay of internal and external factors – local power struggles, commercial flows, regional players and Western policies – in shaping the political process in Jubbaland. Drawing on first hand research, this paper will argue that the formation of a regional state in the Somalia-Kenya borderland has contributed to the reconfiguration of political space at local, national and regional levels.

Paper 2

Bellander Magnus / University of Oxford

Making sense of alignments in Somalia

Much has been said about the role of external actors in Somalia’s political crisis, especially in recent years, when the regional and global character of Somalia’s crisis has become increasingly evident. This paper looks at some of the ways in which outside involvement has shaped the political landscape in Somalia in this period. It looks at how external involvement has impacted on the balance of power and thereby contributed to new alliances and realignments among competing interest groups, not only in the national political game, but also on the local and regional levels, where political entrepreneurs have linked up with external actors in order to gain the upper hand in their local power-struggles. It is argued that this interaction between local politics and external interests is far from unique to the current era – it is only more obvious – and needs to be seen from the viewpoint of the external actor looking for local proxies as well as from the viewpoint of the local political entrepreneur actively seeking external muscle.

Paper 3

Pijovic Nikola / Australian National University

Al-Shabaab: from governance structure to governance spoiler… and back again

Although not many are keen to admit it, the infamous Somali Jihadi movement Al-Shabaab could have, for a few years at the least, been considered a serious and relatively effective governance structure in much of South Somalia. However, since the reinvigorated AMISOM campaign to oust Al-Shabaab from major strongholds dating back to roughly September 2012, the group has been losing ground and territory, and some of its ability to operate as a governance structure. Hence, whilst it is still in control of vast swathes of territory in south Somalia (although not many town strongholds), some have argued that the next chapter in Al-Shabaab’s evolution is to become a regional spoiler, dedicated to disabling the Somali Federal Government from governing effectively, while at the same striking regional AMISOM partners such as Kenya in order to erode public and political support for prolonged intervention in Somalia. This paper firstly establishes why Al-Shabaab could have been, and still in the future could be considered a governance structure within Somalia, and secondly examines events in the last year which have given rise to the evolution of Al-Shabaab from governance structure to spoiler. It then analyses several options for Al-Shabaab’s possible trajectory in the future, as dependant on the success or failure of the Somali Federal Government, and regional AMISOM contributing partners in governing the country.

Paper 4

Yusuf Zakaria / University of Mogadishu

Salafism in Somalia

Salafism in Somalia had to cope with violence for most of its duration, whether this violence was exercised against its supporters or whether violence was seen as a way for some Salafi trends to survive the supremacy of armed groups and the military interven­tion of external players. Its existence was possible only because its supporters found ways to escape, enforce, or neutralize violence using social mechanisms that eventu­ally had strong impact on their own understanding of Islam. In particular, it has proven to be a resilient ideology despite the failure of its political expressions in the 1990s or the growth of a Jihadi movement opposed by regional states and western allies.

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