Monday, August 23, 2021

Is there hope of peace in Somalia?

 Al Jazeera news outlet carries an interesting article on the so-far failed attempts to bring peace to Somalia. There seems to be little sign of hope.

For the past 14 years, African countries, the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) with the support of the West, has deployed troops, drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia, to battle the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabab, and to prop up Somalia’s feeble government. 

Despite efforts and the expenditure of some $900m annually, the official government in Mogadishu remains weak and divided with little popular legitimacy. And though pushed out of most urban areas, the Islamist insurgency remains in control of much of the countryside and capable of carrying out terrorist attacks in the capital at will.

Somalia has seen some economic growth since al-Shabab was driven out of Mogadishu and many towns, with the World Bank estimating an annual GDP growth rate of 5-6 percent in 2015 and 2016. But the growth has mainly been urban-based, consumption-driven, and fuelled by donor support and remittances from the Somali diaspora. Employment is concentrated in low-productivity agriculture with private sector development and diversification constrained by insecurity, political instability, weak institutions, inadequate infrastructure, widespread corruption and a difficult business environment.

 Last year, the country ranked at the very bottom of the 2020 Doing Business survey.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari stressed that the lesson for Africa from the Afghanistan debacle is that military force is not enough to defeat extremists or guarantee the transformation of societies. He argued that what Africa needs in order to eliminate terror is “not swords but ploughshares”, economic partnerships that deliver real benefits, such as jobs, to the masses. 

“The boots we need on the ground are those of constructors, not the military.”

But it is not enough. What is lacking both in Somalia is government legitimacy based on the population’s participation in government creation and decision-making and the ability to hold it accountable for its failures – in short, real democracy.

Those working to help Somalia should pay attention to Afghanistan | Africa | Al Jazeera

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