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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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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American Or Christian?

Can you really be both?

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This is a thought that has lingered in my mind for a very long time.

Personally, I hate news and politics. It's depressing and it seems like both parties (and people in general) just don't get it. Political conversation gets on my ever-loving nerves and literally gets me down in the dumps for the day.

I just simply don't watch it anymore. There is too much negativity.

That doesn't mean that I am uniformed. I am not advocating for ignorance or anything like that. I prefer to read and figure out my information from sites "in the middle."

As I was eating dinner with my wife the other day we started talking about the new Abortion laws in Alabama and Georgia. As a Christ-follower and a staunch defender of Biblical inerrant, I detest abortion.

Before you read any farther, you must understand something: This article is not about my defense of my beliefs regarding hot topics like abortion or homosexuality. I do not have the time to write about said topics now. I am just asking you to accept what I believe for the sake of the article.

But, anyway, these abortion bills. I can make a pretty good case that they are Constitutional because they are protecting the Life (one of the Rights given to American Citizens) from others. Yes, I know the arguments against said point but continue with me please.

This led our conversation to talk about Homosexual marriage, something that I am against as well. And not just because of Leviticus but because of the New Testament as well.

But, shaking my head, I said something that my wife seemed to agree with:

"As a Christian, I know it's wrong and I cannot agree with it. As an American, I see no reason why it should be illegal. Unless your choices infringe someone's Rights, you should be free to do what you wish (technically speaking)."

This is my dilemma. Well, actually it's not a dilemma. I know that I am a Christian before I am an American. I love this country greatly, and I know how blessed I am to be born here. For all the hate this country gets (and some of it is deserved) and all the problems we have (and we have a lot), we are shoulders above other countries in many ways. I am so thankful for all the men and women who have served to protect me and keep me safe. I'm thankful for a lot of things. And I am proud to be an American.

But my identity in Christ comes first. This is why I do not get into politics much. I don't really care at the end of the day. Because while America has been blessed, we still have work to do here. And this is not my forever home. This is not where I will spend eternity.

I try and respect everyone's opinions, and I earnestly try to love everyone, even when they trash and disrespect my beliefs and convictions. But I must put my call to Christ about anything that has to do with this nation. I will pray for ALL our leaders because I was told to do so (I prayed for President Obama when he was in office). And I will be here to support this nation. But I cannot put it above Christ's commands.

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