Somalia’s struggle for power to establish a sovereign Somali state has raised international concerns of terrorism, piracy, human trafficking and famine causing instability locally and throughout the Horn of Africa. Although U.S. backed Somali Federal Government (SFG) has had some recent success against the al Qaeda (AQ) linked al-Shabaab, Somalia continue to face local and regional border disputes. Somalia has historically relied on outside actors who later abandoned Somalia due to a shift in foreign policy and interest. This paper will prove that the power for struggle in Somalia is the root cause of instability in Somalia and throughout the Horn of Africa. This will be explored by examining Somali’s regional relations, U.S and al-Shabaab’s involvement in Somalia and assessing past and present facts, assumptions and the implications of their actions towards U.S. interests.
Somali Never Ending Wars
Somali and Ethiopians share a long history of power struggle over disputed border boundaries. The earliest hostile encounters between Somali and Ethiopians, dates back to the sixteenth century during Imam Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi or Ahmed Gran’s jihad (holy war) (Gorman, 1981). Gran’s Muslim forces took control of a vast portion of Ethiopia and forced thousand to convert to Islam that left a deep physiological affect between Ethiopians and Somali’s. Ahmed Gran’s, success later came to an end as the Portuguese musketeers came to Ethiopia’s rescue (Gorman, 1981). Without Gran, and the cause of a holy war, Somalia found themselves under European domination. From 1840 - 1890s the British, established British Somiland, Italy also claimed Italian Somalia, and Ethiopia claimed the Ogaden region of western Somaliand. These boundaries were established by a series of treaties concluded over several decades during the colonial control (Gorman, 1981).
As foreign influence filled the pockets of certain Somali clan leaders, Sheik Mohammed Abdille Hasson, or the “Mad Mullah” waged jihad and the expulsion of foreigners to include Ethiopians. Mohammed’s first campaigned was aimed at restricting supplies from the Ogaden to Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s armed responses only strengthen Mohammed’s cause in the Ogaden region. The Mad Mohammed’s Dervish campaigns lasted from 1899 – 1904, until the British, and Ethiopian troops, and Somali’s who were against Mohammed’s Dervish tactics, mounted various successful campaigns against Mohammed (Gorman, 1981). With Mohammed’s strength nearly eliminated, he agreed to a peace deal in 1904. Mohammed and his followers were allowed to settle in the northern part of Italian Somalia where he was recognized as the ruler by the Europeans. Regardless of the peace deal, Mohammed’s cause began to draw support from other Somali tribes and the fighting continued until his natural death in 1920. Like Gran, Mohammed had failed to unite Somali clans; however the two Somali nationalists have laid a physiological impact on Somali’s against Ethiopians...