William Reno, director of the program of African Studies at Northwestern University, questioned the current approach to counterterrorism in Somalia in an article in the 29 April 2013 issue of CTC Sentinel titled "Rethinking Counterinsurgency in Somalia." The article examines how the shifting loyalties of clan politics challenge the centrality of the institutions of the state as drivers of actors' interests and the real alignments in politics. He found that in the case of Somalia, there is an enduring resistance to the idea of the state--a fundamental tenet upon which counterinsurgency rests.
Reno noted that pragmatic local leaders constantly play multiple sides, creating an exceptionally difficult social terrain for insurgents and those who oppose them in an effort to rebuild the state. This approach argues, he says, for an extremely light footprint, focusing on local islands of stability maintained with indigenous forces.