By Wayne Downing-General US. Army (retired), Distinguieshed Chair Combating Terrorism Center US Military Academy
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Additional info for Al-Qaida's MisAdventures in the Horn of Africa
Though this appeared to be a low water mark for Islamism in Somalia, it was actually an important period of rebuilding and regrouping. Ex-AIAI members established themselves in business networks, in education, the media and the judiciary, building a base which would later prove critical to the new Islamist movement. An impressive network of Islamic schools, hospitals and charities sprang up, especially in Mogadishu. Locally, communities began to establish neighborhood, clan-based sharia courts to provide for themselves a modicum of rule of law.
Somalis have been especially expedient with foreign ideologies, adopting them when beneficial and discarding them the moment they become a liability. Related to this is a culture of negotiation that permeates Somali society and encourages Somalis to recalculate their bargaining position in partnerships on a daily basis. This aspect of Somali political culture provides little traction for movements based on sustained commitment to an abstract cause. Diasporization of Somali society. More recent changes in the Somali context–especially since 1990–are making Somali society somewhat more susceptible to radical Islam.
A revived central state poses a potential threat–to impose taxes, restrict or regulate certain types of economic activities, and potentially turn into an instrument of predation and dominance that empowered clans and groups will wield at the expense of their rivals. The collective Somali experience of the central state has not been a positive one and tends to produce “zero-sum” thinking about a revived state. This tends to multiply the number of spoilers when peace talks reach discussions of power-sharing.
Al-Qaida's MisAdventures in the Horn of Africa by Wayne Downing-General US. Army (retired), Distinguieshed Chair Combating Terrorism Center US Military Academy