Memo: Somalia is Al Shabaab’s Balkanized Cornucopia
Last week’s Somalia Conference in London aimed to reinvigorate the discussion about how to resurrect the “failing” or “fragile” state as experts have described it. The term “Somalia” has entered the English language lexicon as a synonym for disorder and decadence. As of 2017, Somalia is no closer to creating and facilitating a national government, army, police force, infrastructure, or economic and trade structures. Some may argue that Somalia is frozen in a primitive state that is rarely seen in the rest of the world today. Somalia is a hotbed of religious, ethnic, regional, and humanitarian strife. This balkanized cornucopia has served as Al Shabaab’s source of human and financial capital.
After the ouster of the Barre administration, the Somali Civil War began in 1991. No central governing authority ever established legitimacy beyond the physical parameters of Mogadishu thereafter. In effect, the national leader was relegated to “Mayor of Mogadishu” and has no bearing on national affairs. This chronic disorder has made Somalia a prime source of opportunities for Al Shabaab, the Somali Islamofascist terrorist group. The current balkanization prevented a national army and police force to thwart the Islamic Union of Courts, which aimed to establish Sharia law in the Somali territories. Al Shabaab was an offshoot of the Islamic Union of Courts. It is a far more militant and extremist group than its original form. Al Shabaab has survived and is thriving to the degree that there was a bidding war between ISIS and Al Qaeda to incorporate it as a branch in the horn of Africa.
The famine, poverty, disease, and desperation by the Somali people in the fractional national atmosphere have collectively created Al Shabaab’s recruiting resource. The terrorist group is manipulating the situation to its benefit. The London Somalia Conference and every discussion about Somalia at the United Nations, African Union, and any international body must recognize this fact. Providing the Somali people with a cohesive national law enforcement force, civil governance, infrastructure aid, and medical and food supplies would serve as a major impediment for Al Shabaab’s recruiting, racketeering, and terrorizing of the innocent Somali people who are victims of circumstances beyond their control. Al Shabaab is emboldened by the disorder and decadence of the current Somalia, which is no closer to achieving any semblance of civilization. Policy-makers must fix Somalia’s internal problems if they are ever to defeat Al Shabaab. Somalia needs social and democratic engineering, not political platitudes.