Somalia

Capital

Mogadishu

Population

10.5 million

Languages

Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English

Year of Independence

1960

Global Peace Index Rank

157 of 162

Population without Access to Clean Water

72%

History

In 1960, the modern state of Somalia and a central government was established. Nine years later, in a coup d’état, the president was assassinated and replaced by a military government. The new President General Siad Barre declared Somalia a Socialist state. Mobilization along clanship lines, radical socialism, rearmament by the USSR and intermittent conflict with Ethiopia led to the ousting of President Barre in 1991. The nation experienced rapid deterioration of rule of law and institutional stability and soon clan-warfare escalated into full on state of war. Within the first four months 25,000 people were killed, 1.5 million fled the country, and at least 2 million were internally displaced. Years of famine, drought, natural disasters and anarchy left the country devastated. Extremist groups, warring clans and piracy weakened the country’s infrastructure, stability and international relations. Around half a million people died in the Somali famines of 1992 and 2010-2012.

Al-Shabaab, which means “the youth” in Arabic, emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces. In early 2010 al-Shabaab formally declared alliance with al-Qaeda and began to concentrate troops for a major offensive to capture the capital. In January of 2011, pirate attacks on ships worldwide hit seven-year high in 2010, with Somali pirates accounting for 49 of 52 ships seized. Kenyan troops entered the conflict in Somalia in October 2011 to curb al-Shabaab Islamist militants. Through a series of offensives, extremist groups began to withdraw from Mogadishu and confidence grew.

Current Conflict

2013 through 2015 witnessed a surge in al-Shabaab attacks. In September of 2013, al-Shabaab seized a shopping center and kill 60 people in Kenyan capital Nairobi, saying it is retaliation for Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a restaurant in Djibouti in May of 2014 and in June al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two attacks on the Kenyan coast which killed more than 60. From November through December of 2014, al-Shabaab carry out mass killings in north-east Kenya. 148 were killed people in an al-Shabaab attack at Garissa University College in northern Kenya in April 2015.

Al-Shabaab still maintains control over some of the rural and south-central areas of Somalia. Since al-Shabaab feeds and pays its fighters, it remains an attractive option to young nationals facing severe poverty and high youth unemployment. Although al-Shabaab continues to be a threat, security is being fortified and al-Shabaab has been pushed out of major cities around the nation. Governance and civil society have made significant strides in recent years. August of 2012, Somalia’s first formal parliament in more than 20 years was sworn in, followed by the first presidential election in Somalia since 1967. In October of the same year, African Union and government forces recaptured Kismayo, the last major city held by al-Shabaab and the country’s second-largest port, in addition to the town of Wanla Weyn northwest of Mogadishu. International donors promised 2.4 billion dollars in reconstruction aid in three-year ”New Deal” in 2013. In February of this year, African Union leaders agreed on the urgent need for more funding and support for their military presence in Somalia after weeks of increased al-Shabaab attacks on public spaces and pro-government troops.