My main argument is that the Somali state, along with a number of other countries in Africa and the greater Middle East, underwent a profound structural transformation in the 1980s, and that we have been living with the under-recognized consequences ever since. At the time, this change had two particularly striking features. One was economic crisis, which meant that—in the words of Bob Bates—meant that “things fell apart.” The levels of finance available to governments meant that they simply could not sustain the basic functions of government, let alone build institutional states. The second was the beginning of the end of the Cold War, which meant that—as David Laitin observed—that the coup maker could not count on automatic security backing from one or other superpower. Common to both of these changes was a sharp reduction in the discretionary budgets that rulers used to pay their armies and security services and to pay off intermediate elites. I suggest that this (unmeasured) collapse in the “political budget” (the term is Sudanese political vernacular) was the cause of state crisis in many African countries, of which Somalia was an extreme and illuminating case.Continue Reading →
Before looking in more detail at the patterns of state-sponsored violence during the period in which Siyad Barre’s held power (October 1969 to January 1991), I would like to make some general comments about political violence an other useful concepts in the Somali context.
A) Some Preliminary Notes on Violence, Clan and Politics in Somalia
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In the coming weeks, Reinventing Peace will feature a number of reflections on patterns of violence in Somalia that stemmed from our recent seminar on the topic. We kick off this series of memos with the feature below by Lidwien Kapteijns.
History of the Project: Stage One
This project started as research into Somali […]
On September 26, 2013, the World Peace Foundation hosted a book signing and discussion of Lidwien Kapteijns’ new book, Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Turn of 1991. Kapteijns, a Somalia scholar–an expert on Somali literature–and professor of History at Wellesley College, presented her work as part of the World Peace Foundation’s “Patterns […]Continue Reading →
A former prime minister of Somalia, Abdiweli Ali, tells a story that demonstrates the pervasive influence of al-Shabab, even in areas ostensibly controlled by the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Al-Shabab collects taxes – reportedly as much as the government, and certainly more efficiently. This includes a payroll […]Continue Reading →
Somalia allegedly is at war since 1991, though armed violence started more than 10 years before. To a large extent, because of this duration, Somalia has been used as a case test for many paradigms of the post 1989 wars (“state collapse”, “resource war”, “greed and grievance” and “old/new wars”). Yet, it would be easy […]Continue Reading →
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