Somalia is well known as a lawless, anarchic haven for terrorism and piracy. Since the events known as "Black Hawk Down" in 1993, the U.S. has been hesitant to become involved in Somalia. Though some efforts have been made to improve stability and governance, they have been poorly designed and undercut by corruption. A new paper by Morgan Roach and Ray Walser at the Heritage Foundation details how the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, established by international forces in 2002, has failed to govern effectively and fairly due to its undemocratic charter. This charter operates by a "clan quota system," which appoints TFG government officials who look only to enrich their own clan through corruption and cronyism.
Critically, Walser and Roach write that "despite international backing, the TFG has proved itself incapable of tackling the most existential threat to the Somali people: terrorism." Al-Shabaab, an Islamist terrorist group, has become a major force in the Horn of Africa as a result of support from al-Qaeda and Eritrea. Through bombings and other tactics, Al-Shabaab has sought to wage jihad in Somalia and has extended its attacks outside of Somalia to those who support the TFG. African Union peacekeeping forces and separate Ethiopian and Kenyan incursions have weakened Islamist efforts, but have gotten little help from the TFG, which has failed to establish professional, loyal security forces.
As opposed to the failure of the top-down TFG to govern and fight terrorism, the northern provinces of Somaliland have declared their independence and established a functioning democratic system with multiple fair elections. Though it has not garnered international recognition, Somaliland is a clear contrast with the southern TFG-ruled provinces in terms of stability and governance. As the TFG's charter expires this August, perhaps it is time to transition to a more representative system that will likely to lead to more a effective government, both in fighting corruption and terrorism.