Somalia's security situation has never been good, the Soviet Union, through harsh military stabilization and heavy economic support, kept the tribe-divided country under control from the 1960's - 1990's. However, with the collaspe of the dictatorship, headed by self proclaimed ruler Siad Barre, the country found itself as the epicenter of war, poverty, and destruction. As Catholics learning about today's world and how we can help solve conflicts, Somalia should be a huge focus.
Overview: From Peace to Civil War
Somalia in the 1960's, when it was a prosperous nation.
Somalia always showed promise as being a great nation, however, due to the mismanagement of foriegn superpowers, the end result has been civil war and chaos. The Somali Government united all of its clans and tribes when the British and Italian contingents of Somalia came together to form one country in 1960. The next few decades were prosperous. The country was stable as its government took military and financial concessions from both the 1st and 2nd world during the cold war. More heavy, however, was the Soviet Union's support for the country. Somalia suffered at the end of Soviet Union in 1991, with the lack of the aid and support given, coupled with other instablities, forced the country into anarchy. The country plunged into civil war, with Somali factions, aligned mainly along racial and ethnic lines, fighting one another. War eventually led to a widespread famine that forced the UN to intervene. One of the most powerful ethnic clans to come about during this time were the Habir Gidr, and one of their main leaders was Mohammed Farrah Adid.
First Signs of International Support and Aid
Marines checking food for distribution to Somali Civilians.
Adid's militia, the Somali National Alliance, raided UN convoys and stole the rice and food meant for the starving population of Somalia. This prompted the UN to send in armed forces from multiple countries to guard food shipments in 1992. Most notably was the deployment of U.S Marines as part of the contingent. When the Marines were attacked by Adid's forces, the U.S deployed a special operations task force, code named Task Force Ranger, to dismantle the Somali National Alliance's structure from the top down. This deployment would result in the Black Hawk Down incident.
Delta Force Operators, part of the Task Force Ranger contingent.
The Black Hawk Down incident is important to note in the history of this conflict, as it is widely regarded by political historians as one of the main reasons why the U.S refrained from interfering in Somalia for many years to come. While the UN did pursue more Humanitarian endeavors, they widthdrew from Somalia in 1996.
The Years To The Transitional Federal Government
Somaliland, a Somali-State, has its own military
While the turmoil was going on in Somalia, there was also homegrown movements to stablize the anarchaic situation. Many different Somali "self-governed" states came into being, the most prominent being Puntland and Somaliland. The need for stability was met for the most part in these breakaway parts, but there was still a desire to unite Somalia again. Diliberation that would ultimately lead to a new Somali government came to order in 2004. The new government is currently named the Transitional Federal Government.
The Current State Of Affairs
ANISOM forces being reviewed by commanding officer. These guys are greatly changing Somalia's state of affairs.
Somalia eventually became a breeding ground for radical Islamic control, centered during the time of instability following the reign of Adid. Al-Shabaab at this time formed as a militia solely dedicated to enforcing Muslim values. However, the African nations surrounding Somalia, sensing a growing need to address the problems that blocked the frutition of the TFG, decided to intervene. First it was the Ethiopians solely, who were able to take back the country in 2006. However, following Al-Shabaab offenses, Kenyan forces had to come in to conduct operations in 2011. It was as a direct result of this that Al-Shabaab launched the Westgate Mall Massacre in 2013. Today the African forces operating to control Somalia, while rebuilding the military and government of the country, go under the collective term The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
-Al-Shabaab -AMISOM Forces -Somali Government Forces -U.S Tier One Elements and OGA's
AL-Shabaab militants delivering a written message to the public.
Countries Concerned With Somalia
United States - Main concerns with the United States surround international terrorist organizations that use Somalia as a safe haven, and also the piracy that infests Somalia's waters. The United States Military has conducted numerous raids to eliminate High Value Targets (HVTs) in Somalia.
Military equipment left behind by NSWDG (Seal Team Six) in Somalia during raid for HVT's.
Kenya - A neighboring country to Somalia, Kenya has intervened in the Somali conflict mainly out of the fear of distablity spilling into its own borders from Somalia. Al-Shabaab most notably attacked the Kenyan Westgate Mall in Nairobi for Kenya's involvment.
The Westgate Shopping Mall during the 2013 Westgate Terrorist Attack, perpetrated by Al-Shabaab.
Ethiopia - Ethiopia is another country neighboring Somalia, and intervened in the conflict for the same reasons as Kenya.
Map of Somalia, with Ethiopia's location relative.
A large number of other countries have also been tied to the conflicts due to the effects of Somali Piracy and the African Union Mission to Somalia.
Conduct of War in Somalia
Kenyan Troops in a firefight in Somalia.
The war is a mixture of indirect confrontations and planned terrorist attacks in regions controlled by the TFG and symetric warfare in the regions being cleared out by the TFG and AMISOM forces. Most noted are the assasinations of government officials and the gunmen attacks like the Westgate Mall Attack that keep even the capital of Mogadishu on edge. Also there is many IEDs planted in Mogadishu and around urban centers in turmoil, and therefore restrict and slow vehicle traffic. In the areas of Somalia still being flushed out, Al-Shabaab and other resistance organizations use guerilla tactics in newly won over territories, and also fight the AMISOM forces directly to hold territory that the groups have imposed control on. Suicide attacks are another type of asymetric option of attack that is used in this conflict.
Cause of The War
The major cause of the war is the lack of stablity of the country. The chance dissolution of the government after the Soviet Union led to a dominoe effect, which ultimately has allowed famine, genocide, and constant warfare to flourish. Radical Islam was allowed to grow in this environment, and with groups like Al-Shabaab will continue on the conflicts for years to come.
Somalia, sadly, has had a history of being a boneyard for peace oppurtunities and conferences. With the widthdraw of The United Nations mission in 1996 there was a time where Somalia was left to be a lawless state, without any major attempt to help. However, there has been efforts to help peace in the country. UNICEF, for example, has been funding the Peacebuilding, Advocacy, and Education (PBEA) mission, which serves to empower young Somalis by making them more aware of the government, and instilling within them ideals of peace and rejuvination of their communities. However, the program is confined in Puntland, one of the relatively stable self-proclaimed states in Somalia, so it will be seen whether this program, or others, are effective in parts of Somalia most affected by civil war.