NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR’S COLUMN LOOKS BEYOND U.S. GOVERNMENT’S DESIGNATION OF SOMALI GROUP AS “TERRORIST”

March 27, 2008

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, looks beyond the U.S. State Department’s designation last week of al-Shabaab (“the youth”), the one-time military wing of the Somali Islamic Courts Union, as a “foreign terrorist organization” to actually dealing with the threat posed by the group.

The elements of such a strategy would include cutting al-Shabaab off from its foreign sources of support, both state and non-state; pressuring the “Transitionally Federal Government” of Somalia to address issues of political inclusion; deploying an interim security force to at least facilitate the flow of humanitarian assistance; and recognizing the reality of the situation on the ground by engaging with effective authorities within the territory of the former Somali Democratic Republic, including the government of the as-yet unrecognized Republic of Somaliland. The essay concludes that “while the terrorism designation is a significant step, if it is to have any real effect, it must be followed up with a comprehensive program of resolute and sustained political, diplomatic, and security action aimed at quarantining and, eventually, eliminating the threat posed by al-Shabaab and other sources of instability that have found in the ungoverned space of the former Somali state a congenial operational environment.”

To read the full text of the article, “ Somalia beyond the Terrorist Designation,” click here.