Who governs? State versus jihadist political order in Somalia

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Why has the Somali government failed to provide public order and essential services, while Al-Shabaab has had relatively more success in its governance objectives? To explain this variation in governance success, we offer a political economy explanation of wartime order-making based on the competing bargains that governing actors create to uphold their power. We identify two key political bargains in Somalia: (1) an elite deal, forged among members of the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and Federal Member States (FMS); and (2) a civilian deal, which Al-Shabaab directly establishes with the citizens under its control. Looking at these two deals, we examine how access to foreign support can affect a governing actor’s taxation impetus, and subsequently its commitment to governance. Our results reveal that not only can foreign support undermine the normal taxation-protection relationship between citizen and state, but it can also inadvertently provide jihadists with an opportunity to establish alternative forms of order.
Full article recently published in the Journal of Eastern African Studies: doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2022.2075817