Ungoverned Spaces: The Struggle for Somalia

December 1, 2011
7:30 pm -

Event Description

On Wednesday, November 16, a drone strike killed more than a dozen people in the southern Somali town of Afgoye. Though both the American and French militaries denied responsibility for the attack, which targeted members of the al-Qaeda-linked militia al-Shabaab, it bore telltale signs of Washington’s increasingly effective campaign of unmanned air strikes.

From maritime piracy to terrorism, Somalia is home to a growing number of international security challenges. It is also home to great humanitarian challenges: this year the Horn of Africa has been wracked by the worst drought it has experienced in 60 years, with outright famine in some of parts of Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab. When U.S. troops withdrew from the country in 1993, Americans largely forgot about it, but it has once again returned to the headlines, as the Obama administration has established a drone base in neighboring Ethiopia, and supports African Union troops in their efforts to establish a stable government in Mogadishu.

This discussion examined what the U.S. and its allies were doing on the ground in Somalia, and — significantly — examined the increasing linkages between security and humanitarian issues in the Horn of Africa. Can the U.S. and others prevent the problems of Somalia from spilling over its borders?

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization, and author of Bin Laden’s Legacy (Wiley, 2011). A noted expert in counterterrorism, he focuses primarily on “homegrown” terrorism and radicalization in the Middle East and North Africa. Gartenstein-Ross has lectured at events sponsored by U.S. Special Operations Command, National Defense University, and the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He also lectures regularly at Naval Postgraduate School courses, instructs U.S. service members deploying to the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf, and designs training courses for the U.S. State Department’s Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance. Gartenstein-Ross has written or edited eight books, and his work has appeared in Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also testified before the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Gartenstein-Ross holds a J.D. from New York University, and speaks several languages, including Arabic.

Peter Castro is a cultural anthropologist at the Maxwell School at the University of Syracuse, with research interests in the fields of conflict management and rural development. For many years, Castro has worked in East Africa, on projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. From 1999 to 2007, he was part of the BASIS Greater Horn of Africa Collaborative Research Support Program’s project on food security and livelihoods in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. Since the 1980s, he has also worked with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, managing natural resource conflicts, on which he has published a number of case studies. Castro has also served with the United States Agency for International Development, as a team leader in Bangladesh for the United Nations Development Programme, and as a surveyor of Somali refugee camps for CARE.

Moderator: Clifford D. May, President, Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


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