On 12 May 2010, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform hosted a panel discussion on the role of Islamic Movements in Somalia’s internal conflict. The violent agendas associated with political Islamism have been a growing source of concern for the international community, especially in light of emerging trends regarding ‘global missions’ and operational cooperation between various Islamist networks.
Traditionally adhering to a moderate interpretation of Islam, Somalia is nowadays host to extremist factions that have increasingly imported tactics such as suicide bombings and targeted assassinations. In the face of rival religious ideologies and their continued mobilization for personal and political ambitions, the seminar sought to explore the immediate conditions that can help overturn these developments and aid in building a sustained national resilience to extremist elements.
Panellists shared insights on the paradoxical development of radical Islam in a traditionally moderate Sufi society and on the global support networks of the Somali extremist groups. Their contributions were based on personal experiences and results derived from recent work on extremist factions and conflict environments.
Discussion points raised by the audience during the seminar referred to the involvement of the international community and the responsibility of the African Union to provide troops, resources and logistical support; to the role of the UN and the potential for UN intervention and assistance; to the root causes of the conflict and the possiblespill-over effect into neighbouring states; to linkages between refugees, diasporas and terrorism; as well as to need for training of security forces and the problems posed by allegiances.