Stabilization, Extraversions and Political Settlements in Somalia

Tobias Hagmann

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


Past and present attempts to stabilize Somalia highlight the entanglements and interplay between local and foreign elites in policies and practices that frequently undermine statebuilding in south-central Somalia. Moving beyond the mainstream analysis of local actors and internal dynamics as a central dynamic behind the continuous political disorder, this study highlight the role of external aid in dysfunctional statebuilding in Somalia, further assuming that foreign actors should be seen as an integral part of these processes. Persistent tactics by Somali elites—mobilizing, appropriating and redirecting foreign resources and agendas—have been at the core of failed statebuilding. Such tactics form part of what French Africanist Jean-François Bayart has described as ‘extraversion’. Because Somali elites have regularly turned their participation in transitional governments into a resource appropriation tactic, statebuilding has become an end in itself rather than the outcome of a more profound process of actual state formation that would have entailed the centralization of coercion, the generation of public revenue or the building up of popular support. This report highlights four findings echoing existing literature, but also offering new insights, including the observation of recurrent negative relationship between external stabilization attempts and peaceful political settlements. Secondly, the continuation of some forms of extraversions including an appropriation of external resources, flight, and trickery, which have led statebuildinger to favour the creation of formal institutions as a prerequisite, rather than an outcome of actual state formation. Thirdly, the selective use of recognition as foreign policy mechanism to bestow resources on particular constituencies at particular times, thereby fueling political competition, rewarding abuse and ineffective governance and encouraging the establishment of ‘briefcase organisations’. Lastly, the extraversion of foreign aid and external stabilization has been so long-standing and entrenched that donors and the range of external actors aiming to influence political developments in Somalia have become an integral part of these processes. - See more at:
Original languageEnglish
PublisherRift Valley Institute
Number of pages74
ISBN (Print)978-1-907431-44-9
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Publication series

NamePolitical Settlements Reports


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