n African Security Review - The Somali conflict : root causes, obstacles, and peace-building strategies : feature

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1024-6029
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Unlike many African populations, the overwhelming majority of the Somalis are part of a single, homogeneous ethnic group. All Somalis are Muslim and share the same language and culture. Nevertheless, one of the most terrible civil wars in Africa has been waged in this country for more than two decades. Somalia has been without a functioning central government since the late dictator General Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. This essay examines the root causes of the Somali conflict and analyses some of the obstacles that have plagued peace efforts for the last fourteen years. Finally, it identifies peace-building strategies that could help establish durable peace in Somalia. We argue that competition for resources and power, repression by the military regime and the colonial legacy are the background causes of the conflict. Politicised clan identity, the availability of weapons and the presence of a large number of unemployed youth have exacerbated the problem. With regard to the obstacles to peace, we contend that Ethiopia's hostile policy, the absence of major power interest, lack of resources and the warlords' lack of interest in peace are the major factors that continue to haunt the Somali peace process. Finally, we propose ambitious peace-building strategies that attempt to address the key areas of security, political governance, economic development and justice in order to build a durable peace in Somalia.

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