Currently viewing the tag: "Somalia"

Al Shabaab has a remarkable intelligence apparatus. The title of this book alludes to a phone call that Mary Harper, a BBC journalist and longtime reporter on Somalia, received following a visit to Baidoa in the southwest of the country. The caller was a member of Al Shabaab, who described precisely where she had gone, whom she had met and what she had done in that town, and also in Mogadishu, down to the tube of Pringles she was holding when coming out of a shop. After her itinerary was read back to her, Harper told the caller that everything he had told her was true. She writes, ‘it is ironic that Al Shabaab has been able to describe to me so accurately what I do and whom I see when I visit Somalia while I have found it almost impossible to establish a single certifiable truth about the group.’

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For the last 25 years, Somalis and international interlocutors concerned with state-building appear to have assumed that ‘clans’ are the core identity units in Somalia, bonded by primordial ties. However, the prevalent formula that redefines selected corporate lineage aggregations as political-territorial identity units is a historical contingency that needs to be explained.

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The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is the AU’s largest, most ambitious, most complex and most dangerous peace support operation. It has rivaled and often surpassed United Nations peace missions in size and challenges. Paul Williams has written a thorough, extremely detailed, comprehensive, balanced and thoughtful account of the mission. It is indispensible for any policymaker or scholar of Somalia, and a model for how academic analyses of peace operations should be written.

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In the battle of wills for Somalia’s future, the terrorist group al-Shabab struck a cruel and potentially lasting blow on Oct. 14. Not only did it kill more than 300 people in the largest terrorist attack in the country’s history; it shook the confidence of the Somali government and its domestic and international backers that they can stay the course in rebuilding the war-torn East African nation.

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Is there an Islamic path to state-building? Historically, Islam has provided many of the tools needed by rulers looking to institutionalize their authority: a lawbook that extends to regulating commerce and diplomacy, a shared language, and an international cadre of trained jurists and administrators.

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Alex de Waal has a new essay in the London Review of Books (39:12, 15 June 2017, pp. 9 – 12), which they titled, “The Nazis Used It, We Use it.” Below is an excerpt, the full essay is available with a subscription to the LRB.

In its primary use, the verb ‘to starve’ is […]

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