Stopping Somalia's Slide

Problems in the horn of Africa could make it the new hot spot of global terror. How should America handle it?

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As an Al Qaeda-backed group expands its control of Somalia, a wave of commentary asks whether the Horn of Africa is turning into the next failed state that harbors terrorists who could threaten the United States. This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped hints of increased American aid in a visit to Somalia's leader, but is that really the answer? Here are some alternatives.

  • Push for Soft Diplomacy  The editorial board at The Christian Science Monitor warned the Obama administration that Somalia could be its Afghanistan. Their solution? Intensified diplomacy towards some of the more moderate militants in al Shabab, possibly by first assigning a special envoy for Somalia.
  • Don't Overreact  Even if the current government fails and al Shabab takes control of Mogadishu, Ken Menkhaus of the Foreign Policy magazine predicts that threats posed by al Qaeda and al Shabab would not increase. 
  • Fix Ethiopia First  Bronwyn E. Bruton of the Council of Foreign Relations says that Ethiopia's dysfunctional politics and increasing conflict with its neighbors, Eritrea and Somalia, have prevented the United States from pushing for a more robust counter terrorism strategy in Somalia and the rest of the region. To save Somalia from destabilizing the entire region, Bruton suggested pushing for democratic reforms. If that fails, wield a stick: threaten to suspend all military and foreign aid assistance to Addis Ababa.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.