Fisher cites the article discussing how Somalia's identity politics changed after the civil war in 1991. This would be fine except that Somalia has always been poorly understood. People think that Somalia could be the one African country that could support secession and even be irredentist (seeking to annex neighboring territory inhabited by kin) because of its homogeneity (unless they have read my stuff). Somalis speak the same language, are all Muslim, are of the same race, and so on. But they were always divided by clan identity (kinship), which meant that the irredentism was always inconsistent. The leaders in Mogadishu would support the claims of some of the kin in some of the neighboring countries, depending on whether the kin had ties to politically relevant kin in Somalia. Lots of irredentism, targeting Somalis in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the early 1960s because the electoral system required playing to a wider audience. In the mid to late 1970s, the irredentism only focused on the Ogaden clan residing in Ethiopia because its kin was a key partner in the authoritarian regime while the clans tied to the Somalis in Kenya and Djibouti were not in the regime.Fisher and the folks he is citing are probably correct in that the focus since 1991 has probably moved to sub-clan identities. It is still kinship but smaller fractions so you get fighting between different sub-clans that belong to the same clan or clan-family rather than competition between clans or clan-families.
May 17, 2013 at 12:16 PM EDT