I3: Integrated International Intervention – The Future of Stability & Security Operations Using Yemen & Somalia as Success Models

By Brandon Scott

Written in 2014

The 21st Century has shown that the Core; connected countries that are predominantly stable and progressive with regards to security, governance & development are affected by what happens in the Non-Integrating Gap (or just Gap); countries that are disconnected, unstable, and not progressive with governance, security & development.[i][ii] Historically the transaction has been unidirectional, though with this evolution the Core was forced to change their methods of engagement with Gap regions. This evolution in foreign affairs is the new paradigm for engagement. Reviewing Yemen and Somalia as extreme examples will provide evidence of the new paradigm and its successes.

Hitherto, international intervention was divided between Security, Governance, Development & Commercial sectors – it was also mostly unilateral. The United States intervening into Iraq & Afghanistan consisted of primarily the security sector (military) of a small number of countries with little expectation of any National Building responsibility. This was the standard: small number of stakeholders, intervening for a limited scope of purposes with a limited scope of intent. Actors would engage a single nation with the intent to engage one or two sectors. Usually this would consist of security (ousting negative influencers), development (humanitarian aid or disaster relief) or governance via diplomatic means. These sectors were considered generally separate and not connected and if blow back developed the actors could and usually would withdraw rapidly with little to know immediate consequence.

Vietnam was a great example of this. The United States and its anti-communist allies withdrew from nearly all engagement with the country and faced little to no repercussions from it. Vietnamese agents did not infiltrate the US, the US economy was not affected greatly from Vietnam being overrun by the Communists. In fact, the United States and Vietnam effectively avoided most engagement for the next 40 years as Vietnam kept its borders and business mostly shut.

Somalia in the early 1990’s is another good and more modern example. The United States led the intervention with United Nations’ support. The primary function was to provide humanitarian aid, mostly food, and only developed towards a limited scope security engagement. This engagement continued until the notorious Black Hawk Down incident effectively forced all Core actors to withdraw leaving Somalia to spiral into further chaos. The immediate affect was uneventful for the actors engaged. Violent extremists from Somalia struck no one, no one’s economies took a hit and Somalia was able to decline in a vacuum from Core actors.

This ability for limited scope intervention with limited scope repercussions was the standard paradigm in the international community. In effect, it was only engagement itself that caused blow back. If the United States did not intervene in Somalia, there would be no dead American soldiers and no economic expense. For all intents and purposes the watershed moment where this all changed was on 11 September 2001. This was the first time the Core countries were engaged directly and indirectly by the Gap countries on all sectors: security, governance, development. Due to the nature of the event, it impacted not only the United States but also the Core community as a whole. In the following years, the perpetrator, Al Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization, proved its reach by striking multiple Core actors at home and abroad.  The paradigm changed, well half of it did.

The Core learned on September 11th 2001 that the Gap could affect it directly, however it had yet to learn that it could not affect the Gap without an integral (read: holistic, comprehensive or full-spectrum) and international (multinational, global) approach. It was not until the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later in Afghanistan that it learned this lesson, and paid dearly in blood and treasure to learn this lesson. The 2001 intervention in Afghanistan went rather smoothly from the strategic level, despite tactical and operational level indications of future problems that would arise. Though the United States was already in Afghanistan when it intervened in Iraq, it was in Iraq that the lesson of was learned.

The invasion in Iraq was a great success at first from the governance perspective. The Baath Party leaders either fled, were captured or died. From the perspective of the security sector, it was a great example of how the Core countries can go into anywhere and face little to no resistance. It in effect was the first Gulf War actualized. The notion that the Gap could affect the Core, the Core’s capacity to affect the Gap was far greater. This success lasted several months until former regime loyalists begun a trickle approach of small-scale attacks – a sniper here, a bombing there.

“When I got to Iraq in in the spring of 2004, it was still the beginning of the insurgency. The team we replaced told us of stories how months prior; they were able to walk around markets with little security and no Kevlar helmets. It was not until April 2004 that the Mehdi Militia, ran by Muqtada Al Sadr, decided to unleash the wrath of a full blown insurgency on Coalition Forces and the new Iraqi establishment, and then again in November 2004.”[iii]

With so much pressure on the United States and its allies to prove a justified intervention after the fact by way of success, there began a dramatic effort to succeed. This effort was realized on many fronts and with all sectors, though its origin and long lasting impact is the most interesting part. From 2005 to 2008 the level of study poured into Counterinsurgency was unparalleled. The military initiated numerous internal reviews, feedback mechanisms, training developments and new types of operations. The academic community – mostly soldier-scholars like John Nagle and Mark Hammond coupled with hybrid intellectuals like David Kilcullen who spent considerable time embedded within the military – began pouring over, and pouring out, research and guidance on counterinsurgency doctrine and in  December 2006 the United States’ Army & Marine Corps published their new manual on Counterinsurgency.[iv]

Though the research continued, the foundation for Counterinsurgency was set and defined. The take away from it was that to be successful in counterinsurgency you must engage all sectors of governance, security & development in order to win the hearts and minds. Meaning, you cannot expect to kill the insurgency away if the population supports them, because the local village does not have enough food, water, or rule of law. On top of this, two other critical areas exploded – Intelligence & Inform & Influence Activities (formerly known as Information Operations). The literature said the counterinsurgent must facilitate the requirements of the population (jobs, good governance, education & healthcare) while engaging them with strategic communication of intent, honesty and transparency while separating the hardcore fanatics from the general populace using advanced network-centric intelligence processes and capturing or killing them.

This new counterinsurgency approach became the new standard of on the ground methodology. The notion of a true collaborative, multinational effort had been realized also. Though only about half a dozen countries took part in the initial invasion, the stabilization force expanded to around 40 countries. However it was the peak time of the surge in Iraq (2004-2008) that the United States (and by default, the Core countries) realized that this new methodology was nearly impossible to sustain unilaterally. This lesson was learned when the majority of countries began to pull out realizing that this intervention was a long-term commitment with seemingly no end in sight.

A critical period also developed when Al Qaeda began targeting European allies at home while demanding that the European allies withdraw from Iraq – and it worked. Huge swaths of non-US/UK troops were pulled out in a couple waves. First in 2004 and 2005 when it was realized there was a full-blow insurgency occurring, and then in 2008 when things began to stabilize a bit but also after the surge of US troops. By 2009, the stabilization force was back down to half a dozen countries most of which from the United States and a year later only the United Kingdom and the United States were left. The take away was from multinational engagement in interventions was that you had to have buy-in by a large collection of global stakeholders and they had to be willing to commit long term.[v]

In Thomas P.M. Barnett’s The Pentagons New Map, which came out right before the insurgency in Iraq came to fruition, detailed exactly how the future of interventions and global strategy would work. This brilliant doctrine, if you will, was briefed extensively throughout the Pentagon before developing into a book. By reading it, you can see where the entire integrated approach to intervention came from. It summarily dictated the United States military was the only organization that was capable in the 21st century to intervene around the world in order to reconnect disconnected states. Barnett’s concept dictated that what was needed was a US military force that intervened with speed, precision and minimal collateral damage. This force would remove belligerent actors be it derelict regimes not playing by the international rule sets or non-state actors thriving in security vacuums on the dark corners of the globe.

Barnett had this vision that accurate for the time he was preparing it. The US had recently become the greatest power on the planet after the fall of the Soviet Union. The best example of this was the first gulf war where a force comprised of primarily the United States in 100 days was able to liberate an invaded country nearly effortlessly. If the United States wanted to execute a regime change in Iraq then, it could have done it with ease. Come the US invasion in Afghanistan, Barnett saw another rapid regime change. The US was able to execute a regime change and this time, ten years later, with a laissez-faire approach (read: light foot print, high-tech, Special Operations and Air centric). This is exactly what Barnett described and for all intents and purposes, his theory was actualized and proven accurate. Barnett also described a secondary force that he referred to as the “SysAdmin Force” (think a combination of the Departments of State, Aid & Defense) that was to wage peace after the “Leviathan Force” (US Military) waged war. Barnett was spot on with this assessment. Iraq and Afghanistan also proved albeit over time, that the SysAdmin force was truly needed.[vi]

However, Barnett missed one thing; his entire concept is American centric. What was realized notably from 2008 to 2010 was that the though US can do all of this on its own, and it is the only actor that can, the cost of this is near state failure. The US faced recession at home, two wars abroad and protest for its dual conflicts from its own citizens and from international actors overseas. Therefore, Barnett failed to realize that though his theory was accurate, it was not sustainable. This is where the international aspect of the new intervention paradigm enters the stage.

The necessity for interventions (read: engagement) to be all inclusive of the global community is based off three factors. The first factor is that without a multinational buy-in, consensus ceases to exist and the international community inevitably criticizes the intervention. No war can be won with spectators booing the players. It erodes morale and barring key Hail Marys the players will falter. The second factor is the simple need for attrition. Intervention often requires numbers, many bodies to cover geographical ground. Save for a draft, no country can provide the numbers require without breaking their own military. The third factor that necessitates an international component in the new intervention paradigm is the idea of Comparative Advantage. In effect, some global actors are better at executing certain operations than other.

The comparative advantage factor is arguably the most critical and it has been illustrated rather visibly in Africa and specifically in Mali over the last several months. This is a stellar example of what we see now and what we will continue to see in the future. What Mali showed us was how an intervention or engagement could be a collaborative effort utilizing military comparative advantage. In Mali, the French were contributing their troops, the UK and US were contributing logistical support via airlifts and fuel while the US has provided intelligence support. What this indicates is unlike Barnett’s vision that the US will be the front-runner in the future of intervention; the US will actually be the primary supporter of interventions utilizing other Core nations, international organizations and regional actors.[vii][viii]

The most important lesson that Barnett did annotate was that Disconnectedness Defines Danger.[ix] This idea is not his alone and it abides by general common sense when we consider how conflict arises outside of state on state open conflict, which is the future of warfare. Consider that inter-state violence has dropped dramatically over the years while intra-state violence has increased.[x] It is not difficult to see that the places where the roots of the 11 September 2001 attacks developed from were disconnected places such as Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan.[xi]

Immediately following the attacks, studies began to illustrate how poverty is strongly tied to terrorism and violence.[xii][xiii] From the counterinsurgency perspective, the person to really connect poverty and lack of resources to a fostering of insurgency was John Nagle after his research in Afghanistan. The sure signs of disconnected are fairly easy to identify; just look for countries that lack tourism, internet and infrastructure such as transportation, electrical, water, sewage, banking and telecommunication.

Barnett, unlike most international affairs theorists, put his theory on the line by not only defining where the future conflicts would be, but actually circling them on a map and calling it “The Pentagons New Map”. The where for the new Integral International Intervention is defined by the why. Therefore, engagement needs to occur in the locations that are disconnected. The where can also be answered by identifying locations that tend to have high rates of birth, male youth, unemployment and authoritarianism. These indicators tend to identify near-failed and failed states, which is where the majority of all interventions will occur.

To answer the when, we can look at the geographic sources of the September 11th 2001 events. As the counterterrorism analysts identified the precedents for terrorism on a macro level and the counterinsurgency analysts identified the same factors yet on a tactical and operational level it became clear that failed and near-failed states were breeding grounds for violent actors. Operating off that knowledge, the international security community was able to directly connect these environments with violence and therefor identifying these environments as the true enemy, if you will. The world sat by and did very little to engage these regions and because they waited they paid a dear price and continue to do so. The lesson learned was that pre-emptive engagement was the best course of action. The United States in very short order, initiated a number of programs to engage these environments immediately, such as counterterrorism assistance, joint military training and youth exchange programs.

How this engagement is executed came right out of the Iraqi invasion playbook – the opposite of what was done in Iraq. What we once referred to as Vietnam Syndrome – the fear of putting large numbers of American boots on the ground – has effectively developed into Iraq Syndrome and for good reason. Couple the fear of bodies coming home to the Core with the aforementioned determination that this new paradigm must be a multinational one, the outcome developed into the idea that in all engagements, the Core will, when possible, incorporate a laissez-fair approach from the Core and a hands on approach from the regional and local actors (usually the Gap). One great illustration of this is in sub-Saharan Africa where the Core is supporting intervention in Somalia. Militarily, the US barely touches the country aside from few and far between Special Operations – usually to neutralize violent actors such as key Al Shabaab leaders. The rest of the military efforts are ran by Ethiopia, Kenya and other members of the African Union.

The Republic of Yemen appears to be falling apart at the seams despite the extensive efforts by the international community, to include key actors that are global powerhouses such as the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The stakeholders are intervening in Yemen to assist in its recovery from its Arab Spring revolution, the southern secessionist movement, tribal conflict and a near decade as an Islamic terrorist safe haven. This paper will argue that contrary to the belief of many, Yemen is actually improving its security and stability to include economic security and human security.

The international community as a whole is coming together to halt Yemen from becoming the next Somalia, Libya or Syria and catapult it towards a trajectory to become a front-runner in the twenty-first century global village.

In 1990, the Unified Republic of Yemen was born as it unified north and south Yemen, led by President Saleh who previously was in charge of northern Yemen. The US historically had sent a notable amount of aid to Yemen in order to counter Communist influence. However, in 1991, when the US led an invasion to liberate Kuwait from Iraq, Saleh sided with Saddam. Having just received their place at the table in the UN, their first act was to denounce the US-led operation. This was the beginning of Yemen’s undoing as a semi-connected Gap-state.

The night before the final UN vote, the US Secretary of State told Yemen “this will be the most expensive ‘no’ vote you ever cast” and during the vote, the Secretary slipped a note to his aid that stated “ Yemen’s permanent representative just enjoyed about $200 to $300 million worth of applause for that [denouncement] speech”. Following Yemen’s vote, the US, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait all cancelled their aid packages to Yemen and it was another 20 years before a US Secretary of State visited Yemen. Along with this blow, Saudi Arabia kicked out about a million Yemeni migrant workers and sent them back to Yemen unemployed. A year later the original group that became Al Qaeda, executed their first attack, in Yemen.[xiv]

Over the next two years, Yemen deals with an attempted southern secessionist movement that led to the north invading the south to stop the attempt, food price riots, and extensive domestic political power struggles. The rest of the 1990’s Yemen struggled to function as a state as the Saleh played each tribal faction off each other to keep the nation from breaking into civil war.[xv] Though things were about to really change, all due to a tragedy.

In October of 2000, Al Qaeda, who had been honing their skills in Saudi Arabia and Yemen executed a suicide bombing against the USS Cole where 17 Americans are killed. The same month a bomb explodes at the British embassy. A year later following the September 2001 attacks in the US; Saleh approached President Bush and told him he was a partner in the global war on terror. By February of 2002, Saleh deports over a 100 foreign Islamic scholars in an effort to crack down on extremism. By October of 2002, Al Qaeda attacks another ship off the Yemeni coast. The 2002 year was also the first known US ‘drone’ strike, which targeted a senior Al Qaeda member in southern Yemen.

From 2003 to 2007, with the US and its allies tied up in Iraq, Yemen faced a Shiite uprising, by the Houthis in the north. Saleh cracked down hard on this and scores of Yemenis die along with hundreds imprisoned. There are however many reports out of Iraq detailing a number of Yemenis who came to Iraq to fight the Coalition Forces. In mid-July, Al Qaeda kills several in a car bomb attack targeting Spanish tourists. Throughout 2007 clashes between the Houthis and Saleh’s regime continue.[xvi]

The following year, 2008, continues to bring clashes with the Houthis. However, a series of Al Qaeda bombings occur in the capital, Sana’a and at popular tourist locations, causing the US embassy to evacuate all non-essential personnel. Five months later, the US embassy is bombed and 18 civilians die. The following year in 2009, Saleh continues to battle the Houthi rebels in the north as clashes between Saudi forces and the Houthis spark. With a large Houthi conflict keeping Saleh busy, several tourists are taken hostage and in January, the Al Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia and Yemen formally declare themselves as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In December 2009, AQAP claims responsibility of the failed US airline ‘underwear bomber’ plot. The US realizing its 20 years of shunning Yemen has left Yemen to breed Al Qaeda to the point where they are able to reach the US with relative ease.

Domestic conflict continues to plague Yemen through 2010. Due to the excessive domestic conflicts, protests and known corruption most international aid is still suspended. The US had been trickling in $20 to 30 million annually in aid since 2006.[xvii] The US conducts four ‘drone’ strikes in 2010, as they still retain a relatively hands off policy with Yemen. Come October 2010 a global terror alert is issued, regarding explosive packages being shipped to the US by airmail. Three months later in January 2011 US Secretary of State visits Yemen to express urgent concern regarding AQAP.[xviii] The same month the Arab Spring protests that began in Tunisia, spread to Yemen.[xix]

From January 2011 to the summer, protests against the Saleh regime increase to the point where Saleh is wounded during a bombing of his palace. Armed clashes occur in Sana’a sending thousands fleeing and foreign embassies evacuate personnel as the world watches expected full-blown civil war in the heart of Arabia and the home of the latest and most powerful Al Qaeda cell. The US fears the worse, and conducts a ‘drone’ strike killing Anwar Al-Awlaki, the US born AQAP leader, one of 10 drone strikes that year.[xx]

In October 2011, with Yemen on the brink of complete disaster, the UN Security council vote to step in, a month later Saleh agrees to a power transfer to his Deputy. A unity government is formed and by January 2012 Saleh leaved the country, with his Deputy, Hadi, stepping in a month later as protests calm. A plan by the international community, with the Gulf Cooperation Council is developed to facilitate a transfer of power from the old regime and a National Dialogue Conference (NDC) to alleviate domestic conflicts.[xxi]

Throughout 2011 and 2012, Al Qaeda militants grow strong enough they are able to take territory in the southern parts of Yemen that remain largely uncontrolled by the central government. The US quadruples its drone strikes to over 40 in 2012, exercising a comprehensive air assault on known targets.[xxii] Yemeni forces in June retook AQAP’s territory and the rest of 2012 consisted of strategic AQAP attacks in the capital Sana’a.[xxiii] As 2013 arrived, the global community had become fully committed to stabilizing Yemen through comprehensive solutions regarding all sectors of security, governance and development.

Watching Yemen from a television will convince anyone regarding Yemen’s security environment that Yemen is overrun with AQAP militants. In small parts of southern Yemen it often is, however the Yemeni military soon retakes the area. In August of 2013 an urgent terror alter based in Yemen reverberated through the media, forcing nearly all embassies in Yemen to either shutdown or evacuate all non-essential workers. During this time, the entire world was fearful of Yemen, yet several westerns resided in Yemen without fear. In the south, there are often clashes with AQAP militants that leave up to a dozen Yemeni soldiers dead or captured. However, these are highly remote places in the provinces that are akin to the American West in the 1800’s.

The last great media story about Yemen was in December of 2013 when AQAP stormed the Ministry of Defense in Sana’a killing scores during a prolonged attack. This attack was the most brazen of AQAP and they paid for it dearly as Yemenis were disgusted with the number of civilians killed. Since 2012, the US has continued to take out dozens of AQAP militants with a high operations tempo of drone strikes. Yemen has also cracked down in the last several months on the carrying of firearms and motorcycles (the preferred method of transport during the recent assassination campaign) in Sana’a.[xxiv]

In the end of the third week in April 2014, AQAP released a video of a recent meeting in southern Yemen with the AQAP leader and dozens of AQAP militants. This was a brazen effort to brag of their freedom in Yemen and was synchronized with media releases by their leader Zawahiri and their brethren in Somalia. Within 72 hours, Yemeni commandos began a massive operation with US drone support engaging AQAP. This operation is the largest ever in Yemen and as of Monday the 22nd of April Yemen time, continues. Reports on the social media site Twitter are beginning to claim that the famous AQAP bomb maker responsible for every high profile bombing or attempted bombing in the last half a decade is dead. Preliminary reports of the death of Nasir Al-Wuhayshi are currently circulating now also, however it will be days before anything of this nature can be confirmed. Yemen’s security environment is coming together at such a rapid pace that the media cannot keep up with it and the environment is making it possible for other sectors of this global intervention to excel.[xxv]

Regarding Governance, the UN backed NDC that began in March of 2013 was completed in January 2014. This was the most comprehensive dialogue conference of the Arab Spring affected nations, most likely in the Middle East and possibly the world over. Several hundred leaders from all sectors of society and government were brought together to identify conflicts, discuss solutions and subsequently agree on solutions. The key supporters of this event have been the UN, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the United States and Europe. The constitution was renovated and dozens of issues were discussed with solutions decided upon. It will take some time for all of the tenets to become implemented, and even longer for them to be smoothly functioning but for a country that for the last two decades devolved into a terrorist haven, multiple near civil wars, revolts and near complete collapse – it is a great start.[xxvi]

As for Development, Yemen itself has begun numerous economic initiative and infrastructure projects to improve their socio-economic reality. Recently Yemen reported that they would develop industrial zones in each of its newly federally mandated regions. This is a great step forward in exporting economic growth and job security to the provinces while simultaneously charging the regional power brokers with security of the zones.[xxvii] In May of 2012, the international community pledged more than $4 Billion in aid to Yemen and nearly $8 Billion later that same year.[xxviii] On a near daily basis reports flow out of Yemen annotating new aid discussion and agreements between Yemen and its global partners. By way of the group ‘Friends of Yemen’ that consists of nearly 40 countries, global support to stabilize Yemen has solidified into a force majeure that will inevitably prove to illustrate Yemen as a key global actor with significant resources and a valuable asset to the global community.

Somalia is another great illustration of the new international intervention paradigm and its successes. Not long after its state collapsed in 1991 followed by the Black Hawk incident was the withdrawal of nearly all international actors. Somalia has been off grid essentially for nearly two decades with seemingly small occasional engagement over the last decade. This complete disengagement left Somalia open to whoever had the bigger gun and for Somalia to be viewed as the most dangerous country in the world. However, it was 2006 that really began to bring Somalia to the conversation table. The international community acknowledged that Somalia was a moment away from becoming the next Afghanistan – a geographical security vacuum where the likes of Al Qaeda or realty any negative influencer or violent actor could base itself.

The assessment was too accurate. In 2006, the Islamic Courts Union decided to take governance into their own hands and push out the warlords, intent on establishing an Islamic rule of law – and they were successful in securing Mogadishu. The great irony, was that Mogadishu for the first time in 15 years actually was stable. There was a rule of law, albeit mostly Sharia Law, certain basic services began to trickle in and Mogadishu’s air and seaports re-opened after remaining closed for over a decade. Essentially, it seemed that there was a fighting chance for at least the capital, Mogadishu to stabilize.

This situation was far from ideal in the Core’s eyes, specifically the United States and Europe, having just spent half a decade battling Islamic extremism and with two counterinsurgencies waging away in Iraq and Afghanistan. To the credit of Ethiopia and her Western backers, the Islamic Courts Union was far from a liberal organization – the rule of law was existent but it was violently strict. The Islamic Courts Union were also believed to be harboring a known terrorist responsible for his involvement in the US Embassy Bombings in sub-Saharan Africa. This was enough to convince the United States and her allies that the Islamic Courts Union was not an option. [xxix] This same year, Ethiopian troops began to engage the Islamic Courts Union to evict them from the capital effectively in December of 2006.[xxx]

For all of 2007 and 2008, Ethiopian troops combined with African Union forces secured the bulk of Mogadishu and surrounding southern Somalia. There was resistance however, from Islamic Courts Union and warlord remnants. In January 2009, Ethiopia withdrew its forces as planned. Immediately following their withdrawal, a new organization arrived to replace them: Al Shabaab. Al Shabaab is essentially a more violent, extremist splinter organization from the Islamic Courts Union. They believed forfeiting their power and territory was sacrosanct and were willing to engage in all means necessary to reclaim it. In 2009, the world watched painfully as Al Shabaab captures town after town, re-instilling their version of Sharia Law to include executing a full attack on Mogadishu.

As 2010 arrived, a famine had struck Somalia that would last for two years killing over a quarter million people. Simultaneously Al Shabaab was wreaking havoc on any international organizations still present and the United Nation’s World Food Program had to withdraw from Al Shabaab controlled territory leaving little to no assistance to those starving from the famine. In February of 2010 in a not so surprising move, Al Shabaab declared its allegiance to Al Qaeda. This moment was arguably the lowest point in recent Somali history from the perspective of the international community. Essentially, all the gains made by the African Union and Ethiopian forces, were not only reversed back to the Islamic Courts Union, but an Al Qaeda franchise who took over the entire southern part of the country to include the capital. The situation stayed essentially unchanged for all over 2010 and most of 2011 as onlookers watched to decide what to do next.

One important thing did change however, though not on land. From 2009 through 2011, a piracy epidemic took hold. For three years, off the coast of Somalia piracy incidents to include hijacking and hostage for ransom skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. Considering the vital importance of the Gulf of Aden to global maritime transportation of all nations, this was a dire scenario. The global community immediately moved to act by deploying naval ships from several countries to the Gulf of Aden region and further out into the Indian Ocean to protect the shipping lanes. This was a watershed moment of global relations where the world saw actors as diverse as the United States, Iran, India and China all come together to neutralize the threat. This maritime international intervention was a stellar success and in 2012, Somali piracy was virtually non-existent. This was for good reason – considering the World Bank calculated that Somali piracy was costing the global economy $18 Billion a year.[xxxi]

Back on land, Al Shabaab was excelling –partially due to funds from the piracy. Reports that Al Shabaab was even executing small-scale attacks in northern Kenya, led to Kenya’s deployment of military forces into southern Somalia in order to carve out a buffer zone.[xxxii] The 2012 year saw dramatic progress for Somalia. Al Shabaab began to lose ground by a combination of Kenyan forces from the south; African Union and Somali government forces from Mogadishu, US unmanned aerial vehicles from above and contingents of Ethiopian forces from the west. In August of 2012, Somalia swore in its first parliament in over twenty years. In September, the first Presidential election since 1967 occurred.

The following year, 2013, continued on trajectory of rapid progress for Somalia. It began in January when the US recognized the Government of Somalia for the first time since the state’s collapse in 1991. Having a formal government with a relatively Al Shabaab free zone the international community now had a formidable entity to support. In April of 2013, the US successfully petitioned the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo on Somalia making it now legal to provide arms to the new Somali military in order to retain their ground and defend against Al Shabaab forces.

Regarding the Security sector, the security gains by Somali forces and its allies have continued to progress in 2014. This momentum has kept Al Shabaab from controlling any serious territory as it did only a few years back. Although this progress is greatly significant, it is vital to annotate the vulnerability. In July 2011, nearly 18 months after Al Shabaab laid siege to Mogadishu, they withdrew abruptly claiming it was a “tactical move”. Three months later Kenya began its intervention into southern Somalia while the multinational forces began closing in from other sides. Subsequently, throughout 2012 and 2013 Al Shabaab was cleaned out of all major cities by AMISOM and their allies. This progress has increased notably in 2014 though it has become apparent that Al Shabaab has not always been chased out. They have been leaving the towns pre-emptively and headed for the rural countryside. There have also been reports of Al Shabaab operatives re-entering Mogadishu under cover.[xxxiii]

What has been seen so far is a change in strategy and tactics by Al Shabaab. They have shifted from rebel groups holding territory to somewhere between insurgents and terrorists. There urban tactics resemble that of terrorism – dispersed high profile attacks. However, their forfeiting of urban space to avoid direct force-on-force conflict in order to flee for the countryside and launch attacks from there is a shift to insurgency. The likely approach will be the combination of the two and will have lasting impact. Al Shabaab is probably never going to be a conventional existential threat to the Somali state again; however, they will continue to pose a threat via terrorist methods bordering on insurgency. In April 2014, it was announced that Somalia would be deploying troops to assist with stability in South Sudan. This is a rather large step in Somalia’s security paradigm when it is able to export security.[xxxiv]


Regarding governance, in January 2013, the United States recognized Somalia’s government for the first time since 1991. This act will carry the new Somali government into recognition with nearly every country in the world. The world will now have someone to identify and negotiate relations with – more so, someone to hold accountable. There are also plans for several countries to open embassies in Mogadishu based off the recent security gains. There are many international stakeholders determined to see a stable functioning Somalia. A great illustration to see what Somalia is capable of is to see their northern breakaway region of Somaliland. Somaliland has successful democratic elections and a functioning state apparatus. With the support Somalia is currently receiving this will be actualized within a couples years at most.

For Somali Development, the Core countries of the international community have stepped up the last few years. They have executed a large comprehensive development intervention to match the security and governance sector interventions. In late 2013, “International donors promised Somalia [$2.4 Billion] in reconstruction aid on Monday to back a three-year plan aimed at strengthening the country’s economy and building up its fragile security.”[xxxv] Also recently, Somalia and the Word Food Program signed a new contract – an update from the last one signed in 1967 – which specifically request aid to key areas that AMISOM has liberated in the last several months.[xxxvi]

Somalia is funded primarily by international aid; however, it is moving rapidly to develop its commercial opportunities, with help from foreign organizations. The recent security gains have made it possible for commercial enterprise to enter at the ground floor. This is magnified by the increase of Somali diaspora returning to Mogadishu to start businesses and invest in their homeland. All the development indicators are present. In early 2013, First Somali Bank opened for business. Similar to the bank-by-cell methods in Kenya, First Somali bank operates off cell phone framework and issues debit cards. At the end of 2012, 3G mobile network options arrived in Mogadishu and this past March, plans for 4G LTE were announced.[xxxvii][xxxviii] Furthermore, at the start of 2014 the first fiber-optic high-speed internet cable came to Mogadishu providing regular internet access to Somalis.[xxxix]

As far back as a year ago, stories of the construction boom in Mogadishu were hitting the news.[xl] CNN even reported on a Somali who has begun development of a beachfront hotel resort that has already had twenty guests. However, it did not stop there, CNN continued by stating, “Mogadishu’s growing economy is manifested not just in real estate and the hotel sector. Telecommunications is also on the rise, while the aviation industry is spreading its wings too, with about 15 daily domestic and international flights.”[xli]

Mogadishu’s port is one of the most strategically located ports in the world, positioned along major shipping routes and jetting towards south Asia.  For years, these ports remained closed and once they were reopened piracy kept anyone from using them anyhow. This is no longer the case as the port is active and continuing to develop further. This is courtesy of the global community seeing much potential in Somalia. Representatives from four different countries have been involved in the port’s development; and it is that kind of stake holding that inevitably will raise Somalia from the ashes and guide her into a key actor in the 21st century.[xlii][xliii]

For nearly two decades, Yemen and Somalia have been failed or near failed states. Both countries have been birthplaces and breeding grounds for extremism, terrorism, piracy, humanitarian crises and general chaos while simultaneously being strategically located making them vital to 21st century globalism. The international community has poured in billions of dollars into both Yemen and Somalia in order to develop their security, governance and development sectors. Albeit nascent, they are truly harbinger of this new integrated international intervention paradigm.


[i] “I.S.I.S. – Interactive Synergistic Intelligence Superorganism.” Soldier Spook Statesman. N.p., 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[ii] “G-COIN: Global Counterinsurgency.” Soldier Spook Statesman. N.p., 08 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[iii] Correspondence, US Intelligence & International Security Professional, Under Conditions of Anonymity, 15-21 April 2014

[iv] Correspondence, US Intelligence & International Security Professional, Under Conditions of Anonymity, 15-21 April 2014

[v] Wikipedia contributors. “Multi-National Force – Iraq.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Apr. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

[vi] Barnett, Thomas P. M. The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004. Print.

[vii] Lawrence, Chris, Cnn, and Jill Dougherty. “Panetta: U.S. Could Provide Logistical, Intel Support in Mali.” CNN. Cable News Network, 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[viii] “Mali Neighbours Send Troops to Help French Intervention.” Guardian Weekly. Guardian News and Media, 13 Jan. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[ix] Barnett, Thomas P. M. The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004. Print.

[x] “Global Trends in Armed Conflict.” Regjeringen.no. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xi] Correspondence, US Intelligence & International Security Professional, Under Conditions of Anonymity, 15-21 April 2014

[xii] “Does Poverty Cause Terrorism?” Does Poverty Cause Terrorism? N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xiii] “Does Poverty Cause Terrorism?” New Republic. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xiv] Johnsen, Gregory D. The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. Print.

[xv] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xvi] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xvii] Wikipedia contributors. “United States–Yemen relations.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 Feb. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

[xviii] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xix] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xx] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxi] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxii] “Charting the Data for US Air Strikes in Yemen, 2002 – 2014.” The Long War Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxiii] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxiv] Correspondence, US Intelligence & International Security Professional, Under Conditions of Anonymity, 15-21 April 2014

[xxv] Correspondence, US Intelligence & International Security Professional, Under Conditions of Anonymity, 15-21 April 2014

[xxvi] Correspondence, US Intelligence & International Security Professional, Under Conditions of Anonymity, 15-21 April 2014

[xxvii] “#Yemen Mulls New Plan to Spur Local and National Growth.” Soldier Spook Statesman. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxviii] “Yemen Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxix] Fergusson, James. The World’s Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia. London: n.p., 2013. Print.

[xxx] “Somalia Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxi] Kermeliotis, Teo. “Somali Pirates Cost Global Economy ‘$18 Billion a Year'” CNN. Cable News Network, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxii] “Timeline: Attacks in Kenya since Offensive against Al-Shabaab.” Sabahi RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxiii] “AllAfrica.” Somalia: Al-Shabab Strategy Perplexes Some Experts. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxiv] “#Somalia Troops Deploying to #SouthSudan.” Soldier Spook Statesman. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxv] “Donors Pledge EUR 1.8 Billion for Somalia.” ASHARQ ALAWSAT Donors Pledge EUR 18 Billion for Somalia Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxvi] “#Somalia and World Food Program #WFP Sign New Contract.” Soldier Spook Statesman. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxvii] “Somalia.” Business Is Booming in a Relatively Peaceful Mogadishu. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

[xxxviii] “AllAfrica.” Somalia: Mogadishu to Get High-Speed 4G LTE Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[xxxix] “#Somalia in High Speed Internet ‘culture Shock’” Soldier Spook Statesman.

N.p., Web. 22 Apr. 2014

[xl] Guled, Abdi. Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

[xli] Elbagir, Nima. “Holidays in Somalia? Mogadishu Hopes to Be Tourist Hotspot.” CNN. Cable News Network, 12 June 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

[xlii] “Port Strategy – Holidays in Mogadishu.” Port Strategy – Holidays in Mogadishu. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

[xliii] “Somalia Profile.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

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