The 20th Anniversary of the Somali State’s Collapse: A Roundup

Yesterday marked twenty years since the fall of Siad Barre mired Somalia in an ongoing civil war. Here is a roundup of various reactions and treatments:

  • MSNBC presents a photo essay of the last two decades.
  • AP quotes a young Somali on his experience: ” ‘I’ve woken up to the crack of gunfire ever since I was young,’ said Ali, a dark-eyed young man with a wisp of a beard. ‘I never believed Somalia was ever peaceful and I used to wonder what my parents were talking about when told me about the old days’.”
  • Minnesota Public Radio interviews members of the Somali diaspora who talk about their experiences back home: ” ‘Carrying a gun is part of your dress,’ said Mohamed Ali, another Mogadishu native, and now a senior at the University of Minnesota.”
  • VOA interviews Somali academic and political analyst Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamed.
  • The BBC looks at how Somalia works economically on a day-to-day level: ” ‘One of the key things that have allowed business to carry on is the links that Somalis have with the diaspora across the world,’ says Roger Middleton, a researcher into Somali affairs at the UK think-tank Chatham House.”
  • AFP interviews different analysts about Somalia’s prospects for future stability, especially the role of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG): ” ‘The TFG regime is so hopeless that, despite the millions of dollars that the United States and the European Union have poured into training and arming 9,000 troops for it… fewer than 1,000 remain,’ said J. Peter Pham, Senior Vice President of New York-based National Committee on American Foreign Policy.”
  • The American Enterprise Institute’s Katherine Zimmerman writes, “The threat to U.S. interests [from Somalia] is now very serious…The current conditions in Somalia are similar to those in Afghanistan that permitted al Qaeda to attack the U.S., but a clear strategy for dealing with the threat posed by al Shabaab is still missing from U.S. policy.” (AEI is a right-wing think tank; I tried to find a left-wing opinion piece on Somalia, for balance, but came up short.)
  • Garowe Online publishes an editorial calling for Somalis to find political solutions that transcend clan divisions: “If we, the Somalis, wish to save our own future and chart our own path to destiny, we must learn to self-organize, to forgive, and to selflessly protect our national interests against our own kith and kin who bring destruction to our homes. It is not a message for any particular clan or faction, but rather a general message which starts at the grassroots level, in family homes and in social settings.”

What do you think Somalia’s future holds? What lessons do the past two decades offer? What solutions do you see for the crisis, if any?

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