Horn of Africa

  • Countering the al-Shabaab Insurgency in Somalia

    Africa Center Assistant Director Joshua Meservey co-authored a Joint Special Operations University monograph with Dr. James Forest, professor and director of the Security Studies program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and the late Dr. Graham Turbiville, Associate Fellow at JSOU's Strategic Studies Department, on the al-Shabaab insurgency in Somalia.

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  • Let’s Give Somalia’s Government the Non-Recognition It Deserves

    One year ago the Obama administration broke with the Somalia policy of its three predecessors by according diplomatic recognition to the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia. Last month, in his annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report to Congress, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper bemoaned that the Somali regime’s “persistent political infighting, weak leadership from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, ill-equipped government institutions, and pervasive technical, political, and administrative shortfalls” provided an opening for al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants to continue targeting Western interests. Indeed, Mohamud’s regime is itself perhaps the greatest obstacle to security and progress in the Horn of Africa, and the most effective US policy on Somalia would begin by reversing the decision to recognize it.

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  • EU Defense Ministers Support the Way Forward for CSDP and EU Operations

    The informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers took place on 20 and 21 February in Athens, chaired by Greek Minister of National Defence Dimitris Avramopoulos on behalf of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.
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  • J. Peter Pham Discusses “Lessons from the Former Somalia” at US Army War College

    J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, spoke today on “Lessons from the Former Somalia”at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In his invited lecture to students in the College’s Department of National Security and Strategy, Pham discussed the role that state collapse, extremism, insurgency, piracy, famine, foreign intervention, and counterinsurgency have played in shaping the strategic landscape of “the world’s most spectacularly failed state” as well as the “wishful thinking” that continues to color the international community’s response to the ongoing crisis.

    Pham’s presentation came, coincidentally, one day after US military forces launched an airstrike in southern Somalia targeting a “senior leader” of the Somali militant group al-Shabaab who was alleged to have ties to al-Qaeda.

    Established in 1901, the US Army War College prepares selected military, civilian, and international leaders for the responsibilities of strategic leadership in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational environment. The Strategic Studies Institute at the College recently published Pham’s monograph, State Collapse, Insurgency, and Counterinsurgency: Lessons from Somalia.


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  • IntelBrief: Somali Piracy Neutralized: West Africa Is Next

    Bottom Line Up Front
    • The International Maritime Bureau reports that incidents of maritime piracy hit a six-year low in 2013, mainly because of a precipitous drop in attacks off the coast of Somalia
    • But piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is rapidly replacing the Somali threat. West African piracy accounted for 19 percent of worlwide attacks last year, and incidents have escalated from low-level robberies to violent attacks aimed at vessels carrying petroleum products
    • Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is driven by the booming black market for petroleum products in West Africa
    • Sea robbery of petroleum products has also made legitimate trade and investment more expensive because the Gulf of Guinea is now designated a high-risk area (like the Gulf of Aden previously), bringing higher insurance rates.

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  • Pham Quoted on Somalia Bombing

    Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham is quoted by PBS Newshour on a bombing in Somalia by Al Shabaab that killed ten last Friday:

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  • Al-Shabaab's Somali Safe Havens: A Springboard for Terror

    The Africa Center's Assistant Director Joshua Meservey argues in the Perspectives on Terrorism journal that Al-Shabaab’s September 2013 terror attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi is not, as some have argued, a sign of the group’s desperation, but is instead evidence of its intact capabilities.

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  • Lessons from Somalia

    State Collapse, Insurgency, and Counterinsurgency

    In a monograph just published by the US Army War College, Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham argues that, after years as the world’s prime example of a failed state—one that gave rise to catastrophic humanitarian crises, a wave of maritime piracy, and Islamist militancy, including an al-Qaeda-linked insurgency—Somalia appears to be turning the corner, but whatever lessons are to be learned from the insurgency and the counterinsurgency effort, they are not the ones usually advanced by diplomats and soldiers.

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  • IntelBrief: Barclays and the Somali Remittances Crisis

    Bottom Line Up Front
    • Since 2011, Somalia has struggled to maintain one of its most important revenue streams—remittances from Somalis in the diaspora—as one Western bank after another cuts financial ties with the country.
    • Inadequate regulatory regimes have made money transfer organizations vulnerable to exploitation by terrorist groups, and financial institutions doing business with Somalia are increasingly wary of being accused of supporting illicit activities

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  • Briefing on Somalia by UN Monitoring Group

    The Michael S. Ansari Africa Center hosted a breakfast briefing and discussion today on the political and security situation in Somalia and the Greater Horn of Africa by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.


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