Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and its international and regional backers have sought military victory over the extremist group of al-Shabaab, branded by the U.S. and many Europeans as a terrorist entity. After three years of fighting, Somali government forces and the African Union troops control the capital Mogadishu. Kenyan troops are in the south while Ethiopian forces captured several regions in Somalia. Several pro-Ethiopian and pro-Kenyan militias are also in active conflict with al-Shabaab in south and central Somalia.
That Mogadishu is now under the domain of the Somali government is significant, but the current strategy for stabilizing Somalia is counter-productive and it is not sustainable in the long term: it has two major deficiencies. First, the strategy neglects serious negotiations with the insurgency groups. Second, it over-relies on external military muscle, particularly that of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and neighboring countries of Ethiopia and Kenya. We argue that the time is now ripe for reversing these illusive and ineffective policies. The Somali government and its backers should focus on genuine negotiations with rebels that are interested to end the violence through peaceful means, and alongside, must invest in establishing a competent security sector.