Somalia’s recent transformation is a tribute, first and foremost, to its people. Just a few years ago Somalia was considered the world’s number-one failed state, but the country’s military and political progress suggests that this nation may have turned a corner.
In August 2012 the Transitional Federal Government concluded its work, adopted a provisional constitution, and handed power to a new president, parliament, and prime minister. On January 17, 2013, the United States formally recognized the new Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). In September 2013, the FGS and international donors completed a laudable three-year framework that aims to achieve state-building and peacebuilding goals in line with the internationally recognized New Deal Compact for Engagement in Fragile States. Now that the government is firmly established, it must prove its ability to deliver on this ambitious agenda. Over the last three years, the Somali National Army (SNA) supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), has driven the extremist group al-Shabaab out of major cities and towns. In 2014, a military offensive began the process of securing the remaining contested areas to consolidate gains.
U.S. assistance to Somalia aims to: 1) develop a stable government, 2) prevent Somalia from serving as a haven for terrorists, 3) respond to and mitigate humanitarian crises, and 4) promote stability in Somalia and the region.
Through the U.S. Special Representative for Somalia (SRS) and the U.S. Somalia Unit, CSO supports the FGS’s efforts by advising Executive and Ministerial Offices on stabilization strategies, priorities, operations and communications as first-line interventions of the New Deal. Through this process, CSO also builds capacity, helps the FGS obtain funds for initiatives, and assists the U.S. Government with Somalia’s stabilization policy and activities.
The Office of the Prime Minister formed a Stabilization Support Unit to help the Cabinet design and communicate a strategy, develop national priority programs, coordinate donors, and assist ministerial implementation and monitoring. In June 2013, the FGS approved a blueprint that defined five national priority initiatives aimed at stabilizing the regions by addressing the most pressing needs. In February 2014, the FGS revised the strategy for areas targeted in the current military offensive.
The FGS now has launched all five of these initiatives. Together they promote a locally-led approach that 1) builds credible administrations and community representative bodies, 2) promotes local reconciliation, 3) fosters confidence in the government’s commitment to work on behalf of its constituents through community-defined infrastructure, 4) helps former combatants and at-risk youth by providing the range of tools they need to become productive citizens, and 5) strengthens traditional justice arrangements to guarantee acceptable rule of law in communities that lack a fully functioning system.