Fighting for Peace in Somalia: AMISOM’s Seven Strategic Challenges

in Journal of International Peacekeeping
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This article analyzes seven strategic challenges which faced the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) between March 2007, when it first deployed to Mogadishu, and August 2012, when Somalis selected a new Federal Government to replace the existing transitional institutions. The seven strategic challenges were the initial international political context in which the mission deployed; problems of internal coordination between the mission’s component parts; the lack of a reliable local partner with which to wage a counter-insurgency campaign; problems of strategic coordination among external partners; the nature of the enemy forces facing AMISOM, principally al-Shabaab; AMISOM’s lack of relevant capabilities and resources to perform its mandated tasks; and the challenges of facilitating legitimate and effective governance structures, especially as AMISOM began to deploy outside Mogadishu from late 2011.

Fighting for Peace in Somalia: AMISOM’s Seven Strategic Challenges

in Journal of International Peacekeeping




 See Paul D. Williams‘Into the Mogadishu Maelstrom: The African Union Mission in Somalia’International Peacekeepingvol. 16 no. 4 2009 pp. 515-18.


Human Rights WatchHarsh War Harsh Peace: Abuses by al-Shabaab the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM in Somalia2010.


In mid-November 2008UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that an International Stabilization Force (ISF) of ‘approximately two brigades’ be deployed to Mogadishu. Subsequent UN–AU planning cohered around an ISF of approximately 6000 troops. Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation in Somalia UN doc. S/2008/709 17 November 2008 paragraphs 31–43.


UN doc. S/2008/804 19 December 2008.


In May 2008one of al-Shabaab’s senior leaders and al-Qa’ida associate Aden Hashi Ayrow was killed during a US strike. These airstrikes were apparently ordered by the US Department of Defense without input from the State Department regarding the likely diplomatic repercussions and without assessing the consequences for humanitarian activities. Refugees International Somalia: Policy Overhaul Required (Refugees International Field Bulletin Washington DC 19 November 2008) p. 2.


Since at least 2009Kenya provided military assistance finance weapons and training to armed factions in southern Somalia. The strategic objective appears to have been an attempt to create a Jubaland political entity which could control the Gedo Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba regions thereby acting as a buffer zone between Kenya and the worst spillover effects of Somalia’s conflict.


 See David KilcullenThe Accidental Guerilla (Oxford: Oxford University Press2009).


David H. Shinn‘Al Shabaab’s Foreign Threat to Somalia’Orbisvol. 55 no. 2 2011 pp. 209-11; Report of the 2ndAMISOM-TFG Information Sharing Meeting 22ndto 24thNovember 2011 Bujumbura Burundi (AU internal document no date) p. 10.


Marchal‘A tentative assessment’ p. 395.


Stephen BiddleMilitary Power (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press2006).


 See for example Alice HillsFuture War in Cities (London: Frank Cass2004).


HillsFuture War in Cities pp. 12 29.


Sam Ntale‘AMISOM ventures deep into Mogadishu after 5 year [sic.]’Dispatch (Kampala) 19 March 2012


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    AMISOM authorized (dashed line) and deployed (in grey) strength, 2007-12.


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