Stoil Debriefs On the State of Affairs in Somalia

On Thursday, February 8, Colgate students and faculty members gathered in the Africana, Latin American, Asian American and Native American (ALANA) Multipurpose Room for the third and final Africana and Latin American Studies (ALST) Current Affairs Conversation Series brown bag. Visiting Instructor in the Deparment of Peace & Conflict Studies (PCON) Jacob Stoil focused his lecture on Somalian government.

Stoil began his lecture by providing a brief history of Somalia. He explained that Somalia is a failed state currently ruled by a government that essentially has no power.

Issues such as poor living conditions, frequent terrorist attacks and the over two million people starving are ignored and attention is instead focused on government stability. Stoil framed the federal government in Somalia as a complete veneer and argued that the international community has been mislead into believing that Somalia is stable.

Stoil elaborated on the state of poverty that exists in the Horn of Africa, a region in Eastern Africa that consists of Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. He stated that the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) operates camps in northern Kenya, where almost all of the residents are ethnic Somalis.

Stoil explained that al-Shabaab is an increasingly dangerous terrorist organization that constantly threatens peace in East Africa. This terrorist group has been funded by al-Qaeda and doesn’t aim to seize land in East Africa, but rather to undermine the power of the “puppet” government of Ethiopia in Mogadishu.

Senior Asabi Rawlins was intrigued by Stoil’s explanation of the state of Somalia’s foreign relations and terrorism.

“As an International Relations major, I found Professor Stoil’s comment on how al-Shabaab gains economic support through the Somali Diaspora interesting. I also found it interesting how Somalia’s greatest allies, like Ethiopia, are also its greatest enemies,” Rawlins said.

Ethiopia and other African Union (AU) members are taking steps to ensure the future security of Somalia. Stoil stated that al-Shabaab is suppressed by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping force deployed by the AU. Stoil informed the audience of AMISOM’s controversial tactics.

“AMISOM claims that they are trying to build a democratically functioning state, but this is not the case. AMISOM airstrikes have killed civilians in Kenya and Somalia before, but has continued because it is the only way to fight al-Shabaab,” Stoil said.

He ended the lecture by describing the semi-autonomous nation Somaliland. Somaliland is a democratic nation with a healthcare system, thriving telecommunications industry and fully functioning infrastructure. The leaders of this nation are demanding recognition from the African Union and United Nations, but they have been denied that privilege. Ironically, Somalia refuses to allow this nation to secede as it would damage the national identity that the Federal Government is so desperately trying to create.

Stoil’s lecture functioned as a debriefing for Colgate’s Model African Union Class, which traveled to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, February 17, to participate in the National Model African Union hosted by Howard University.

Junior Alexandra Wilson enjoyed the lecture, discussing Stoil’s insight and extensive knowledge.

“Professor Stoil’s lecture provided context to the current geopolitical position of Somalia. Through analysis of the Somali Civil War and neighboring country politics, he shed light on the emergence and presence of an al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab. His detailed glimpse into the political, economic and geographical landscape prepared us for the African Union conference, in which several students are representing Somalia,” Wilson said.