A Break Down Of Understandingg Al-Shabaab's Influence in Somalia

A Break Down Of Understandingg Al-Shabaab's Influence in Somalia

A poor, lawless country or a country in transition?
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Somalia is one of the world’s poorest countries and is characterized by poverty and lawlessness by the west; However, is surprisingly homogeneous in diversity and has recently gained momentum to secure a more stable government. Before this, the collapse of its central government in 1991, clan warfare and piracy have predominated and with no clear central authority, various non-state actors vie for control of the country. Beginning in 2007, Al-Shabaab- a radical islamist movement with hopes of establishing an anti-western state and formally recognized by Al-Qaeda in 2012- has gained control of much of southern Somalia and some parts of Puntland and Somaliland. As the group was gaining power, Al-Shabaab was been building a formidable army with recruits from the United States, Canada, and neighboring East African countries; Now as the group has lost popularity, most of their soldiers are kidnapped children.

Earlier last year, I had read a Reuter's news report on the Garissa University College attack, which was carried out by Al-Shabaab in Garissa, Kenya, killed 147 people and injured over 79. The gunmen held the university students hostage and killed those who identified themselves as anything other than Muslim. The attacks on neighboring countries has crippled foreign relations with Somalia and caused severe economic hardships. For example, the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi killed over 67 people and injured over 175 people, a mass shooting that halted Kenya’s tourism and transportation system.

Al-Shabaab’s emergence is significant for at least two reasons. As an Islamist group espousing Wahhabism, the group aims to establish an Islamic state in Somalia; but the Wahhabist-inspired methods of achieving this goal are in direct conflict with traditional peace-making mechanisms that are key aspects of conflict resolution in Somali society. In addition, the growth of Al-Shabaab in Somalia and the group’s embrace of Sharia law undermine the traditional conflict solving mechanisms of Somali society.

We must understand Somalia's history and demographics in an unbiased context to fully understand the emergence of Al-Shabaab's prominent influence in terrorizing Somalia. Somalia is a predominantly Muslim country; over 90 percent of the population is estimated to identify Islam as their religion. Islam has been utilized throughout Somalia's history from when the first Sultans arrived, as a rallying cry against external domination, for example, during the country’s struggle for independence from colonial powers, Britain and Italy, and long-time enemy, Ethiopia. Somalia’s first and most renowned anti-colonial leader, Sayyid Muhammad Abdallah Hassan, used Islam to garner support against the British and Italian colonial administrations. Directly after the threat of western domination was removed after independence in 1960, political Islam became irrelevant in Somali politics, evident in the secularization of the Somali state in the post independence era under the Siad Barre regime. Thus, Barre’s brief flirtation with Marxist-Leninist ideology and later his liberalization of the economy in the 1970s and 1980s in a bid to secure more foreign aid had immediate economic and political repercussions. High levels of underdevelopment and alienation of marginalized groups weakened the state’s social infrastructure and resulted in widespread inequality in access and provision of services in Somalia. These were key factors that instigated the overthrow of the Barre regime in 1991 by a coalition of several rebel groups. It is within this context of waning socio-economic conditions, poverty and inequality that Islamic groups mobilized, by providing much needed relief in the form charity.

Somalia’s economic situation is under great turmoil as the Federal Government was only established in 2012. According to The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) a specialized agency of the United Nations, Somalia has a population of 10.4 million people, 40% lives in extreme poverty. The Somali government has not been able to adequately provide for its people especially with the hovering threat of Al-Shabaab. However, international support is motivating the government to continue efforts to rebuild the country whose people cannot afford to be ungoverned again.

Achieving progress toward peace in the region will likely require stemming the tide of Al- Shabaab’s recruitment of disillusioned youth with humanitarian or state-led provision of services such as education, recreational facilities, and jobs. implications for peace and security that can be seen in its support for the Ogaden National Liberation Front in Ethiopia and terrorist bombings and kidnappings in Uganda and Kenya.

Cover Image Credit: http://cbsnews1.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/2013/09/24/43eebe32-357f-11e3-8ce8-047d7b15b92e/AP126738911359.jpg

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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