The Civil Strife in Somalia: Black Hawk Down and Beyond

Somalia is a country located in the Eastern part of Africa, which occupies the territory covering the eastern coast of the continent. Historically, Somalia was influenced by foreign powers, while during the epoch of colonization, the country was under the total control of Europeans, especially the British. In such a context, when the country gained independence, it turned out to be unprepared to the development of a truly independent, democratic state. Instead, the country have suffered from ongoing internal conflicts and civil wars, which became less intensive when Barre took the power in the country and established the pro-communist dictatorship regime. Nevertheless, even the dictatorship could not stop internal conflicts in Somalia which were often accompanied by extreme violence. As a result, by the late 20th century, when the pro-communist regime had fell down, Somalia faced the same problem ”“ the problem of the formation of an independent, stable and democratic country. however, until present moment Somalia is still one of the most unstable countries in Africa and the entire world, while the traditional problem of internal military conflicts and civil wars have already outgrown into the international problem of piracy, which became a norm in coastal waters of Somalia today threatening to international sea trade and safety of citizens of different countries of the world.

At the same time, the ongoing conflicts within Somalia are determined by different factors, including difficult socio-economic situation and pauperization of the local population, conflicts between different clans within the country, external factors, such as attempts of foreign power to influence domestic and international policies of Somalia, and other factors. In this respect, the impact of the historical development of Somalia, as one of the factors undermining internal stability within the country, can hardly be underestimated. In actuality, the development of Somalia was accompanied by the ongoing opposition between tribes inhabiting the territory of Somalia and the division of the country into different clans persists till present days. At the same time, along with historical tension between clans, the influence of external powers in the course of Somali history determined current contradictions and internal conflicts. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the impact of Islam, which became the mainstream religion in Somalia during the Middle Ages under the impact of the Arab world. The 19th and first half of the 20th century brought Christianity and the growing impact of European culture on Somalia. In fact, the 19th ”“ the first half of the 20th cc was the time of European colonization. Eventually, Great Britain took total control over Somalia. The European colonization naturally contributed to the growing social tension in Somalia because of religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims. The latter comprised the majority of the population, while Christianity progressed due to European missionaries in Somalia. In such a way, the colonization increased internal contradictions and conflicts in Somalia. In addition, colonization undermined the normal state development of Somalia. What is meant here is the fact that the country was governed by the colonial authorities, while the local population had little impact on the authorities and the political life of the country. In such a situation, it was impossible to speak about the development of democratic institutions in Somalia. Moreover, the colonial authorities contributed to the economic exploitation of Somalia, which grew more and more dependent on British companies and British market.

As a result, the independence gained in 1960 failed to bring the desirable improvement of the life of the local population. In stark contrast, it wreaked havoc on the country since, when the colonial authorities had gone, the local authorities failed to take the power and control over the entire territory of the country. In fact, the country was simply torn apart between different clans which could not come to agreement and form the government that could represents interests of all groups and clans in the country. Eventually, internal conflicts in the country led to the civil war, which ended in the dictatorship established by Barre, who was formally the elected President of Somalia, but in actuality he was a dictator of Somalia. It is worth mentioning the fact that Barre was supported by the USSR due to his pro-communist views and policies. However, the downfall of the Soviet bloc and the end of Barre’s rule provoked the new wave of violence and civil wars in the country in the 1990s.

In such a situation, the international community attempted to seize the war in Somalia and through interference of the UN, the civil war in Somalia was stopped in 1992. The US military, being the UN observers, were the major force that maintained peace in the country. However, the ongoing violence and terror attacks on US military caused the retirement of the US troops from Somalia. They were replaced by the UN international military forces, which were also attacked by Somali. Eventually, the international interference into the internal conflict in Somalia ended up with the withdrawal of the UN international military forces and by the mid-1990s Somalia slipped to civil wars again.

During the 1990s ”“ 2000s, Somalia repeatedly attempted to form a government that could unite the country and establish peace. The government could not and still cannot the entire territory of Somalia. Moreover, the official government had to move to Kenya to secure the official authorities from assaults and assassination attempts.

However, in the late 1990s ”“ 2000s the position of Islamists had started to improve consistently as they increased their influence in the country. In fact, radical Islamists attempted to establish the order in the country based on principles of Islam. For this purpose Islamic courts were created, which were supposed to maintain the social order in the country. In this time, the Islamic Courts Union headed by S.S. Ahmed was created, which united Somali Islamists. At first glance, the appearance of Islamic courts was an attempt to bring in stability into the country, but the international community, especially the US, viewed Islamists as dangerous group, inclined to terrorism or, at least, supporting terrorists, including Al-Qaeda. In such a situation, the increasing power of Islamists in the country provoked a strong opposition of the international community, while it is only due to Ethiopia, which used its military power, radical Islamists were overthrown and failed to take power in the country.

As a result, today, it is possible to speak about the ongoing internal conflicts and international pressure on Somalia since, on the one hand, there are Islamists, who have significant support of the local population and who can potentially control Somalia, while, on the other hand, there is internal opposition and international community, who attempt to prevent Islamists from taking power in Somalia because Islamists are viewed as a dangerous group which either supports terrorists or is directly involved in terror activities. Therefore, Somalia still remains the country full of internal conflicts and vulnerable to the impact of foreign power, especially that of the US. The latter have a particularly significant impact on Somalia because its military stopped the civil war in the early 1990s, while the US bombing of Somalia in the 2000s deteriorated consistently the military power of Islamists and demonstrated the power of the US to overthrow any regime, which is hostile to the US. At the same time, local clans keep struggling for power in Somalia and they used foreign support, including the support of such organizations as Al-Qaeda, to take control over the country.

Thus, taking into consideration all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Somalia remains to be an unstable country, where local clans struggle for power. However, the internal struggle leads to civil wars and deteriorates the life of the local population, who suffers from poverty and permanent threat of military attacks. In such a context, the international community proves to be unable to stop the conflict in Somalia, while its interference rather increases the tension in Somalia rather than solves existing problems.

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