This is the second pre-conference post before our Regional Young Leaders Forum on Regional Security and Local Grievances. Today, we focus on current regional developments relating to the Al Shabaab group and its operations in Kenya and Somalia. We have compiled three articles dealing with this topic from different angles. read more
In a recent interview with the East African, the deputy head of Amisom, Lydia Mutende, states that efforts to military defeat Al Shabaab are accompanied by preparations for Somalia’s 2016 elections which will be discussed at a conference in Copenhagen in November this year. Mutende emphasises that the country needs a federal arrangement that is able to accommodate Somalis’ strong clan affiliations as “building blocks for national peace.”
According to other observers, the recent killing of Al Shabaabs radical leader Ahmed Godane could enable a moderate faction within the group to seek a negotiated settlement with the Somali government. However, it is argued that some powerful external actors like Ethiopia and the US would probably be “quite allergic” to any kind of such a power-sharing deal. Moreover, it is highly unclear whether a Somali peace settlement would also eliminate violent Islamism in Kenya. This assessment comes at a time when a paper on radicalisation in Kenya, published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), finds that recruitment to Al Shabaab and the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) has been facilitated by the Kenyan government’s counter-terrorism strategy. For instance, 65 % of the respondents of a survey carried out by ISS researcher Anneli Botha among self-ascribed Al-Shabaab and MRC members, declared the government’s strategy of “collective punishment” to be the single most important factor that drove them to join radical organisations.
Do you think that the Somali government should negotiate on a power sharing agreement with moderate Al Shabaab factions? What should Somalia’s future federal arrangement look like and do elections really matter in the country’s current situation? What role should external actors like the US play in Somalia’s political restructuring? And to what extent do we have to conceive violent Islamism(s) in Somalia and Kenya as intertwined phenomena?