After gaining its independence in 1960, Somalia tried in vain to unite all Somalis in the Horn of Africa. As part of that project, Siad Barre launched a full-scale invasion of the Ogaden in 1977 in an attempt to take this vast territory from Ethiopia. But Somalia’s crushing defeat in the 1977/78 war brought about far reaching repercussions. Armed resistance against Siad Barre’s government eventually led to state collapse in 1991. While the former British Somaliland declared its independence, civil war and anarchy began to rock Mogadishou and southern Somalia. To make matters worse, a devastating famine claimed the lives of thousands of Somalis. The UN and US intervention to mitigate the humanitarian crisis ended in disaster. Neighbouring countries like Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya made their own efforts to set up a new government in Somalia. Ethiopia’s intervention in support of the Transitional Federal Government triggered armed resistance by al Shabaab. On its part, the US government has been very much worried that Somalia has become a safe haven for terrorists. As a result, the Horn of Africa became a battle ground in the war on terror. The United States has been using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to hunt down al Shabaab leaders and destroy the terrorist groups. Using both secondary and primary sources including archival documents of the Ministry of National Defence based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this paper attempts to examine Somalia’s thorny path towards peace and stability. The findings show that Somalia’s clan based politics, the stockpiles of arms acquired during the cold war that eventually fell into the hands of the warlords and the inability of the international community to put an end to anarchy and civil war, have contributed to Somalia’s insatabilty for over two decades.
Key words: Somalia, Ethiopia, al Shabaab, anarchy, civil war, war on terror.
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