The conflict between Somalia’s weak interim government and an increasingly powerful Islamist faction simmered all summer. But Ethiopia’s military incursion into the shattered country has raised the stakes.
A group of Islamist courts have seized power across much of Somalia. Many outside observers are anxiously watching—and interfering—as the power struggle plays out between the Islamists and the official government.
With Islamic courts firmly in control of Somalia's capital, experts worry that a new Taliban may be emerging in the Horn of Africa.
The United States lists Somalia as a haven for terrorists, and indeed, evidence suggests terrorists are using the fractured state as an operational hub. Yet Somalia's current links to terrorism are tiny in comparison to the potential problem the country poses.
For over a decade Somalia has been a fractured state providing refuge for international terrorists. Intense fighting on the streets of Mogadishu in recent weeks has renewed fears that Somalia could pose an even greater regional threat.
A CIA map shows the areas occupied by Somalia's clans and subclans.
The intervention in Somalia was not an abject failure; an estimated 100,000 lives were saved. But its mismanagement should be an object lesson for peacekeepers in Bosnia and on other such missions. No large intervention, military or humanitarian, can remain neutral or assuredly brief in a strife-torn failed state. Nation-building, the rebuilding of a state's basic civil institutions, is required in fashioning a self-sustaining body politic out of anarchy. In the future, the United States, the United Nations, and other intervenors should be able to declare a state "bankrupt" and go in to restore civic order and foster reconciliation.
Special operations play a critical role in how the United States confronts irregular threats, but to have long-term strategic impact, the author argues, numerous shortfalls must be addressed.
The author analyzes the potentially serious consequences, both at home and abroad, of a lightly overseen drone program and makes recommendations for improving its governance.
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