Intractability of conflict : causes, drivers and dynamics of the war in Somalia

Pettersson, Heidi Elisabeth (2011-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Somalia has experienced constant instability and conflict for nearly two decades. With a collapsed state, widespread violence and criminal activity, as well as continued disagreement between warring factions, the prospect of peace seems bleak. The purpose and rationale of this research has been to critically examine root causes and perpetuating factors of the protracted war in Somalia in order to arrive at a comprehensive analysis of the reasons for the intractability of this conflict. This study aims to fill a gap in the literature by pointing to some elements which have previously been overlooked in existing research on the topic, especially the impact of the war economy on the fuelling of the conflict. While the thesis first and foremost set out to identify factors which contribute to the intractability of conflict in Somalia, a thorough conceptualisation of relevant theory and a historical overview of the case study were provided as a point of departure. An analysis then followed which tied theory to empirical data. According to my analysis, the most significant internal factors contributing to intractability of conflict in Somalia were the long absence of a central governing authority, the low level of economic development, the role of Islam, as well as particular choices made by the parties to the conflict. Relational factors which are crucial are the similar military strength of the opposing sides, their lack of cooperation, and their different views regarding the country’s law and governance. Finally, external factors were deemed to have had a particularly strong effect on the long war. Ethiopia’s constant meddling; Eritrea’s support of al-Shabaab; the UN’s and the AU’s various missions; as well as the presence of a plethora of humanitarian aid agencies have shaped the conflict throughout its course. The conclusion was drawn that the war economy had the greatest impact on conflict in the first rounds of the civil war, but with the transformation, re-escalation and re-intensification of the conflict that has occurred over the last couple of years, the opportunities for benefiting from war and instability may again have increased. Piracy stands out as a new, prominent pillar of the contemporary war economy. The war economy of today continues to have an influence on the Somali conflict; it adds to its intractability, makes it increasingly difficult to establish a legitimate and stable non-corrupt government, and generally sustains violence in the country. I suggest that further research be undertaken on the topic of state collapse in Somalia, as it is clear that the long absence of a central government is a factor which has had a significant impact on the prolongation of conflict. In addition, as accurate data on the current war economy is rare, I recommend that field research should be conducted in Somalia to gain a more precise understanding of shadowy economic activities and their linkages to conflict.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Somalië beleef vir byna twee dekades konstante onstabiliteit en konflik. Met wydverspreide geweld, kriminele aktiwiteite, voortgesette verskille tussen strydende faksies en die verbrokkeling van die Somaliese staat, lyk die vooruitsig vir vrede in die land onwaarskynlik. Die doel en rasionaal van hierdie navorsing is om krities te ondersoek wat die grondoorsake en verewigings faktore is, van die uitgerekte oorlog in Somalië. Die navoring meen dus, om 'n omvattende ontleding te gee van die redes vir die hardnekkigheid van konflik in die land. Die studie poog ook om 'n gaping in die literatuur te vul deur te wysig op kritiese elemente wat nalatig was in bestaande navorsing en meer fokus te gee aan die impak van die oorlogsekonomie wat konflik in Somalië aanspoor. Alhoewel die proefskrif hoofsaaklik poog om die faktore wat bydra tot die hardnekkigheid van konflik in Somalië te bestudeer, word 'n deeglike begrip van die toepaslike teorie en 'n historiese oorsig van die studie voorsien as die vertrekpunt van die navorsing. Dit word dan opgevolg deur ‘n analise, wat die teorie bind aan empiriese data. Volgens my analise is die belangrikste interne faktore wat bydra tot die hardnekkigheid van konflik in Somalië; die lang afwesigheid van 'n sentrale beherende gesag, die lae vlak van ekonomiese ontwikkeling, die invloed van Islam, sowel as unieke keuse van partye tot die konflik. Relevante faktore wat noodsaaklik is, is die soortgelyke militêre krag van die opponerende kante, die gebrek aan samewerking, en hul teenstrydige standpunte oor die land se wet en bestuur. Laastens is daar gevind dat eksterne faktore 'n besonder sterk invloed gehad het op die langdurigheid van die oorlog. Ethiopië se konstante inmenging, Eritrea se ondersteuning van al-Shabaab, die VN en AU se verskeie misies, asook die teenwoordigheid van 'n oorvloed van humanitêre hulpagentskappe het deel gehad in die formulering van konflik oor tyd. Die gevolgtrekking was dat die oorlogsekonomie die grootste impak gehad het op die konflik in die eerste rondtes van die burgeroorlog, maar met die transformasie-, her-eskalasie en reintensivering van die konflik oor die afgelope paar jaar, is daar weereens ‘n styging in die geleenthede vir individue om te baat uit die onstabiliteit en oorlog. Seerowery staan uit as 'n nuwe, prominente pilaar van die huidige oorlogsekonomie. Die huidige oorlogsekonomie het nog steeds 'n invloed op die Somaliese konflik, dit dra by tot sy hardnekkigheid, maak dit toenemend moeilik om ‘n wettige en stabiele onkorrupte regering te stig en dit fasiliteer die voortduur van geweld in die land. Ek stel voor dat verdere navorsing onderneem word oor die onderwerp van die ineenstorting van die staat in Somalië. Dit is duidelik dat die lang afwesigheid van 'n sentrale regering 'n beduidende faktor is, wat ‘n impak op die verlenging van konflik het. Verder, omdat akkurate data oor die huidige oorlogsekonomie so skaars is, beveel ek aan dat verdere navorsing gedoen moet word om ‘n meer akkurate begrip van donker ekonomiese aktiwiteite in Somalië te kry en hul impak op konflik.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6568
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