Saturday, February 25, 2012

Comparing Al-Shabaab and the Lord's Resistance Army

Emmanuel Kisiangani, senior researcher in the Pretoria office of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), wrote an interesting analysis that compares al-Shabaab and the the Lord's Resistance Army. Published by ISS in December 2011, Kisiangani emphasizes the commonality of the two groups in that they espouse vicious patterns of violence buttressed by spiritual tactics. The report is titled Comparing Somalia's al-Shabaab and Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.

In terms of responding to these threats, Kisiangani suggests it is short-sighted to rely only on eliminating suspected terrorists. This may not work if the structural conditions that motivate individuals to join these groups are not addressed. The key to successful counterinsurgency is winning over the local population. This calls for an integrated socio-economic and political approach designed to address the local population's needs and make them feel secure.

Kisiangani adds that external actors can only succeed in seizing the moral and political legitimacy from insurgents by addressing the local population's grievances. Relying on military responses alone will simply strengthen the appeal of militant groups and introduce new cycles of terrorism.

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