Thursday, March 19, 2009

Article in the West Point Counterterrorism Center Sentinel

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:
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.

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