Despite military gains against Somalia’s Islamist group Al-Shabaab, the insurgents’ defeat will remain elusive until the Somali government and its international partners address longstanding social – often clan-based – grievances through parallel local and national processes, as the basis for the revival of conventional governmental authority.
To combat the entrenched, highly adaptable extremist group Al-Shabaab, the Somali Federal Government and its allies must better imitate the group’s core political strengths. The focus on military campaigns with little emphasis on encouraging political settlements in liberated areas is handing the initiative back to the insurgents. In its latest briefing, Somalia: Al-Shabaab – It Will Be a Long War, the International Crisis Group looks beyond Al Shabaab’s extremist face and explains why the group remains resilient in south-central Somalia.While Al-Shabaab remains the focus for international actors, it is just one of several obstacles on the road to peace and stability. And unlike many of its rivals in south-central Somalia, the group still offers practical solutions to clan conflicts and minority representation, simple but effective governance and justice structures, and basic social services, including religious instruction in areas with scant primary education.