Six months ago I wrote Clearing Somalia Of al-Shabaab. Today I was reading Will Somali Islamist Purge Strengthen al-Shabaab? and I see they have not updated their map of who controls what since then, even though the situation is clearly changing.
One of the BBC reporter’s sources was Somalia: The Godane Coup And The Unraveling Of Al-Shabaab, which led me to African Arguments, which is new to me. This site is a product of Britain’s Royal African Society.
Africa has long been the locus and the focus for the most impassioned and intellectually-informed debate. But for many years, specialist Africa coverage in the world’s media has been in decline, alongside the withering of many African journals and magazines that used to provide a forum for debate and opinion. African news and views have moved to the web, but there has been no comparable Africa-wide movement which provides in-depth analysis and debate of the issues and controversies that animate the continent today. With African Arguments Online we intend to fill this gap.
I was lamenting the lack of good sources of the region in my post from December, and now I have the dubious benefit of having found an excellent one for background. Things like this are a resource … and a trap. The British Empire ruled Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, and the relatively peaceful far northwest of Somalia, the self governing Somaliland. The site has detailed information on Sudan, which it seems to be using in the inclusive, pre-separation sense of the word, meaning both the current country of Sudan and the recently independent South Sudan, as well as Kenya and its concerns over the condition of Somalia.
As my writing on North Africa, the Mideast, and Central Asia has gained audience I have had the pleasure of speaking to people who are either military or intelligence service for the former colonial masters – the U.K., France, and Italy. It is interesting to me to see the ongoing economic ties and the differing sense of responsibility each country has for their former colonies.
Somalia is in sad shape and their chaos radiates all around. Just across the Gulf of Aden we see Yemen is coming apart. Plans by upstream nations to dam the Nile have Egypt and Sudan greatly concerned. Troubles in the Horn of Africa are neither as near nor as hazardous as those in the Mideast when seen from the west, but disorder breeds illicit networks and their reach can dramatically exceed their notional geographic range. We should take a long, hard look at the problems here, and then do what we can to reduce the instability and associated violence.