FROM AL-ITIHAAD TO AL-SHABAAB: HOW THE ETHIOPIAN INTERVENTION AND THE ‘WAR ON TERROR’ EXACERBATED THE CONFLICT IN SOMALIA
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From Al-Itihaad to Al-Shabaab: how the Ethiopian intervention and the ‘War on Terror’ exacerbated the conflict in Somalia

 

External intervention has frustrated and continues to frustrate peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and Somalia, adding various adverse layers to an already complicated and complex conflict. The level of forceful military engagement intended for regional domination has profoundly affected negatively the efforts of peacebuilding and statebuilding in Somalia. This article examines how the earlier Ethiopian policies towards Somalia has reshaped the (post)-Cold War politics of the Horn. In doing so, it traces the roots of the Ethiopian intervention in Somalia vis-à-vis new non-state armed groups to chart the changing political dynamics of the conflict in Somalia. By using historical approach, the article argues that Ethiopia’s agenda is central to understanding why the ‘War on Terror’ has strengthened and subsequently midwifed armed militant movements (e.g. new insurgency groups) in Somalia, starting from Al-Itihaad to today’s Al-Shabaab. In focusing upon various regional actors and groups, the article moves from the emphasis of internal systems to external power structures, considering the wider historical and political factors in the region that must be closely examined if the regional and local conflicts are to be deeply understood. While it is a context-specific study, the article aims to contribute fresh perspectives and insights to ongoing discussions on the consequences of the Ethiopian intervention in Somalia.

Keywords: External intervention, Somali–Ethiopian relations, Somalia, Ethiopia, Al-Itihaad, Al-Shabaab, state collapse

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