The ongoing struggle for control of Somalia is one of the world’s most complicated situations. With the country already effectively split into three parts, it may be too late to speak of a Somali nation. While the popular conception of this conflict pits al Qaeda-associated Islamists against a presumably Western-friendly Transitional Federal Government that has the support of major Western powers and the United Nations, the reality is far more complex. Somalia is beset by separatist forces, clan rivalries, ideological differences, and religious disputes, all of which threaten to tear the last threads from the fabric of Somali unity.
Though Islamists now lead both the government and the armed opposition, this has brought resolution of the conflict no closer. Self-declared autonomous or independent regions like Puntland and Somaliland are unlikely to ever submit to the authority of Mogadishu, and several regions are ready to follow their example. With Sufis fighting Salafists on the battlefields of central and southern Somalia, Islam appears to have passed from one of the main forces behind Somali unity to one of its most divisive elements.
Who’s Who in the Somali Insurgency is an essential reference guide to the disparate forces and individuals seeking to split, conquer, or unify this long-troubled nation in the strategic Horn of Africa.