Somalia has long been characterized as the classic “failed state,” plagued for more than two decades by seemingly chronic instability and humanitarian need. Since the collapse of the authoritarian Siad Barre regime in 1991, the country has lacked a viable central authority capable of exerting territorial control, securing its borders, or meeting the needs of its people. Terrorism, piracy, illicit trafficking, chronic food insecurity, and mass refugee flows have been, in part, symptoms of Somalia’s political disorder. After numerous attempts to reunite Somalia’s regions, clans, and sub-clans within a credible central government, the international community has rallied behind a new Somali Federal Government. The election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in September 2012 by a new federal parliament followed the approval of a provisional constitution through an internationally facilitated political process. U.S. and U.N. officials viewed that process as the most credible, inclusive, and representative effort to date to reestablish central governance. In January 2013, the United States officially recognized the Somali government for the first time in 22 years. Diplomatic recognition sought, in part, to highlight fragile improvements in the country’s stability, reflecting both political developments in the capital, Mogadishu, and significant regional military advances against the violent Islamist insurgency led by Al Shabaab (a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization since 2008 and an “affiliate” of Al Qaeda). This progress has increasingly led donors to focus on development assistance, including efforts to increase stability; bolster access to government services, economic growth, and political reconciliation; improve governance and the rule of law; expand critical infrastructure; and build resilience to drought and other humanitarian emergencies. The United States, European donors, and the U.N. (with member state funding) also provide substantial support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and for the nascent Somali National Security Forces.
Date of Report: March 19, 2015
Order Number: IF10155
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