"Barbed wire on our heads": Lessons from counter-terror, stabilisation and statebuilding in Somalia
Since 2007 the US, UK and EU have provided significant funds to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and regional actors aimed at militarily defeating al-Shabaab. These resources have been provided despite questions about the objectives of regional actors and evidence that their actions have undermined efforts to build peace in Somalia.
The US, UK and EU have all been prominent backers of the stabilisation and statebuilding agendas in Somalia – the latter of which is enshrined in the Somali Compact – and have been particularly active in political processes to form interim regional administrations and the creation of a federal system. These approaches have wrested much territory from al-Shabaab control, particularly since the establishment of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in 2012. However, these territorial gains remain both relative and fragile, and have both caused harm and created risks for longer-term stability.
With the mandate of the FGS coming to an end in 2016, the US, UK and EU have the opportunity to reflect upon the lessons of over twenty years of involvement and adjust their policies in the country. This report, informed by field research in Somalia and Kenya, aims to inform this debate about the impact of US, UK and EU counter-terror, stabilisation and statebuilding approaches in the southern and central areas of Somalia since 2001. Assessing the impact of their engagement on Somali conflict dynamics from a peacebuilding perspective, it argues that counter-terror, stabilisation and statebuilding efforts have had significant negative impacts, and based on this identifies lessons and recommendations for the future.
This report on Somalia is accompanied by two other reports on Afghanistan and Yemen. Together, they explore the issues identified in the initial discussion paper through detailed examination of specific country contexts from a peacebuilding perspective – in order to stimulate further debate on the lessons learnt.
An accompanying policy brief introduces the issues and contexts explored in the three reports from a peacebuilding perspective.
Date: February 2016
Author: Sunil Suri
Country: Somalia / Somaliland
The global counter-terrorism agenda has reinforced a range of counterproductive behaviours by national, regional and Western actors in Somalia, which have worked against many of their stated objectives and undermined efforts to build lasting peace.