Foreign Policy Blogs

Horn of Africa

Breaking Bad in the Most Fragile Country (Part 2)

Breaking Bad in the Most Fragile Country (Part 2)

“Somalia is a country where the soft power really needs to kick in harder and come in faster”

Last week I shared the highlights of my interview with Ambassador Augustine P. Mahiga, the former head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia and special representative of the U.N. Secretary General …

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Breaking Bad in the Most Fragile Country

Breaking Bad in the Most Fragile Country

 
A Conversation with Somalia’s Chief Peace maker and Constitutional Framer
“Do people actually live here?” I recall asking myself as I made the torturous journey through the streets of the bullet-riddled ruins of Mogadishu in the back of a noisy, slow and filled-to-capacity, open-top military utility truck. It is difficult to imagine …

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“Christian American B*stard — go home!”

“Christian American B*stard — go home!”

How to Keep Somalia’s “Lost Boys” Problem From Becoming Our Own 
“Christian American B*stard, go home!” was the insult hurled at me by a sandal-wearing, skinny and feisty 14-year-old Somali boy on a sultry day in Somalia in 1993. The boy’s name was Maxamed, and I was a 22-year-old U.S. Marine …

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Ethiopia’s Broadband Network – A Chinese Trojan Horse?

Ethiopia’s Broadband Network – A Chinese Trojan Horse?

Ethiopia’s signing last month of a $800 million broadband network with Chinese telecoms giant ZTE has some pundits again focusing on Chinese economic espionage in Africa.  The agreement calls for the establishment of a 4G broadband network in the capital Addis Ababa and a 3G network throughout the rest of …

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Reconciliation…One More Time!

Reconciliation…One More Time!


Ironic as it may seem, it is a statement of controversy to assert that a genuine national reconciliation is needed in Somalia. To some, that has already happened; to others, there is no need for it since the country has emerged out …

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Al-Shabaab’s Bloody Attack in Mogadishu

Al-Shabaab’s Bloody Attack in Mogadishu

The gruesome attack on the U.N. compound in Mogadishu that killed 18 people has shocked the world. Once the “Breaking News” hit the social media, condemnations, condolences, and blame started pouring. …

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Somalia and the Slippery Slope of ‘Jubbaland’

Somalia and the Slippery Slope of ‘Jubbaland’

 

If the latest development in Somalia gives you the feeling of being trapped in the Twilight Zone — somewhere between relative security and renewed bloodshed — you are not alone. Due to the array of competing internal and external interest groups and …

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Somalia Conference and Rivalry of Civilizations

Somalia Conference and Rivalry of Civilizations

A few days before the “Somalia Conference 2013” held in London on May 7, a foreign journalist friend of mine sent me an e-mail asking what my thoughts were regarding the upcoming conference hosted …

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Somalia, Side-effect of an Overpriced ‘Panacea’

Somalia, Side-effect of an Overpriced ‘Panacea’


With its meager financial and human resources, the Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) has been doing better than a satisfactory job. However, in recent months, it has been profoundly frustrated by various challenges. Chief among them is what I would refer to …

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Connecting Dots in the Triangle of Threat

Connecting Dots in the Triangle of Threat


 
Just as the temperature of the “security threat” slowly declines in Somalia, it rises in other parts of East Africa. Elements of mainly political, religious, and clan/ethnic nature continue to shift and create new volatile conditions. Though not entirely interdependent, these conditions …

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The Corroding “Lead Camel” Effect

The Corroding “Lead Camel” Effect


 
As in old caravans “Where the lead camel goes, so shall others.” Such goes the Somali proverb, notwithstanding its regional variations and dialectical flavors. The Lead Camel Effect (LCE) describes a syndrome or a common human tendency to blindly follow leaders, role-models, and all …

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Ethiopia: New Prime Minister Creates Opportunity for Reform

Ethiopia: New Prime Minister Creates Opportunity for Reform

Hailemariam Desalegn was sworn in as Ethiopia’s new prime minister last week. He has some big shoes to fill.

A cult of personality surrounds his predecessor, Meles Zenawi, who died last month..
Zenawi was a regional leader, fighting terrorism in Somalia and mediating the …

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Can Somalia’s Political Discontent Inspire Transformation?

Can Somalia’s Political Discontent Inspire Transformation?

 

 
Exhausted by prolonged anarchy, chronic dependency, cancerous corruption, and humiliating subjugation, the Somali people demanded change. Not just change of guards or principled actors, but a total overhaul of the political order of the day.
On September 10, 2012, the newly appointed parliament …

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A Constitution of Ambiguity and Deferment

A Constitution of Ambiguity and Deferment

If constitutions are supposed to make boundaries of the government’s legitimate authority over its citizens and state or regional administrations clear, Somalia’s new constitution oddly falls short. While there are some bright provisions in the new constitution, much of it can be aptly described as uncertain assurances and a “not …

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Post-Transitional Political Fault Lines

Post-Transitional Political Fault Lines


Internally—where it matters the most—the overall status of a government is judged by how the average citizen perceives it. From that perspective, and due to a number of factors, in Somalia not much has changed in the past three decades since the military government …

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