After the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration’s foreign policy toward Somalia focused primarily on counterterrorism. This focus was a result of Somalia’s proximity to the Middle East, U.S. concern that al-Qa'ida might relocate to the country, a history of terrorist bombings targeting Western interests in nearby Kenya and Tanzania and early contact between al-Qa`ida and individuals in Somalia. Although ties exist between al-Qa'ida and Somalia’s al-Shabab militant group, the overwhelming objective of U.S. policy in Somalia should not be confronting international terrorist activity. Instead, the United States should contribute to creating a moderate government of national unity in Somalia, which offers the best hope of minimizing Somali links to international terrorism. Long-term U.S. interests in the Horn of Africa will not be served by a policy that is consumed with military action to the detriment of supporting economic development and a broad based Somali government. This article outlines al-Qa'ida's early activity in Somalia, provides background and current information on al-Shabab including its recruitment of Americans and Europeans, and finally offers some policy suggestions on how best to stabilize Somalia.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
My article "Somalia’s New Government and the Challenge of Al-Shabab" appears in the West Point Counterterrorism Center Sentinel's March 2009 issue. You can download the entire issue, including the article, in PDF format. Here's a selection from the introduction: