Strategic Interests: — Somalia: “The Times They Are A-Changin”

Fikirka Xorta ah – What is heartening is that a wide number of analysts, practitioners, and advocates have come around to a similar assessment of the realities on the...

Fikirka Xorta ah – What is heartening is that a wide number of analysts, practitioners, and advocates have come around to a similar assessment of the realities on the ground in the Horn of Africa. Writing two weeks ago in The New Republic, Dr. Jonathan Stevenson, a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College and author of the authoritative case study of America’s 1990s intervention in Somalia, suggested that:

Perhaps U.N.-sanctioned special political status for Somaliland that could qualify it for international aid and protection, in recognition of its largely self-generated order and viability, should be on the table to create incentives for the more unruly militias in southern Somalia to reach political compromises.”

Likewise Bronwyn Bruton of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) suggested the United States should examine several nontraditional strategies, including the previously explored ‘bottom-up’ and/or ‘building block’ approaches.”

Even the nongovernmental aid organization Refugees International has chimed in with a policy bulletin. While the concerns of the NGO were primarily focused on what it termed “the world’s worst humanitarian disaster,” it also criticized the international community for its “schizophrenic approach to Somaliland” by “treating it as an independent state when it’s politically or operationally useful…but otherwise maintaining the rhetoric of a unified Somalia.”


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J. Peter Pham is Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

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