Stabilization, Extraversion and Political Settlements in Somalia

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Past and present attempts to stabilize war-torn Somalia through military, diplomatic and humanitarian interventions highlight the entanglements and interplay between local and foreign elites in policies and practices that have frequently and effectively undermined statebuilding in south-central Somalia. Existing analyses have focused predominantly on local actors and internal dynamics to account for the continuous political disorder in the former Somali Democratic Republic since 1991. In contrast, this study highlights the role of external aid in dysfunctional statebuilding efforts in Somalia. Rather than assuming that foreign actors are outside the local and national political settlements, such actors should rather be seen as an integral part of these processes. Consequently, the power and interests of both Somali and international actors must be taken into consideration in order to understand the shortcomings of stabilization policies. Persistent tactics by Somali elites—mobilizing, appropriating and redirecting foreign resources and agendas—have been at the core of failed statebuilding. Such tactics form part of what French Africanist Jean-François Bayart has described as ‘extraversion’. Because Somali elites have regularly turned their participation in transitional governments into a resource appropriation tactic, statebuilding has become an end in itself rather than the outcome of a more profound process of actual state formation that would have entailed the centralization of coercion, the generation of public revenue or the building up of popular support.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRift Valley Institute
Number of pages72
ISBN (Print)978-1-907431-44-9
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Stabilization
  • Statebuilding
  • Extraversion
  • Foreign aid
  • Conflict
  • Somalia

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