War and alliances : the transformative roles of external actors in the Somali conflict.
The Somali conflict is not completely driven by internal factors and not prosecuted entirely by internal actors. Significant involvements, interventions and varying forms of alliances of external and internal actors combined to escalate and sustain the conflict at one time or another. Much as the conflict has festered on domestic factors, including the seeming irreconcilable goals of the internal actors, the activities of the external actors in pursuit of their divergent interests have proven to be a major driving factor in the conflict. The major point of departure in the Somali conflict has been the alignment of internal actor to external actor in the conflict. This brought more complexities to the conflict as each external actor brought its independent agenda into the conflict. The alliances between the Somali moderate/conservative internal actors, Ethiopia and the United States have remained at counterpoint to the alliance between the radical Islamists inside Somalia, Eritrea and international Islamist network operating within and outside the Horn of Africa and the East African region. The dynamics of the Somali conflict have greatly been defined by the interests, actions and responses of the external actors whose positions on the conflict tend to dictate the behaviour and/or posturing of their internal allies and opponents alike in Somalia. Using the index of battle related deaths, quantity of weapons purchases and the internal displacements of people inside Somalia at specific periods in the Somali conflict clearly shows a correlation between the period of mobilization and high intensity conflict with periods when assistance funneled to the internal warring factions by external actors are at their peak. The competing divergent interests of the external actors in Somalia have equally impeded all the peace processes on Somalia with each of the two major domestic alliance partners always postured to antagonize any peace process which results in the enthronement of a government for Somalia headed by the opposing group. Wheeling Somalia out of the present conflict is still possible. An insistence on a strong centralist arrangement will continue to bear negatively on the attempts at ending the conflict and rebuilding the Somali society. A concerted support and stabilization of the emerging organic administrative entities inside Somalia would be a necessary step. These would in turn become the building blocks for a new Somali state in which the center is made less attractive and, thus, less competitive.