I have a new post today at the academic and policy collaborative blog Al-Wasat, founded by two colleagues, Andrew Lebovich, a program associate at The New America Foundation, and Aaron Y. Zelin, a research assistant in the Department of Politics at Brandeis University. The post is entitled "Harakat al-Shabab & Somalia's Clans" and its focuses on the fluctuating role of that country's powerful Islamist insurgency with its politically and socially important clan social structures.
"The relationship between Somalia’s powerful Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of Warrior-Youth) insurgent movement and the country’s socially and politically important clans remains the subject of uncertainty and great debate among scholars and analysts. Movement leaders have consistently downplayed and criticized “clannism,” defined here as loyalty to one’s clan at the expense of religious (Muslim) identity. Criticisms of clannism are particularly poignant following decades of civil war in which clan loyalties and warlordism have often played a destructive role. Harakat al-Shabab‘s ideology, which is a militant version of Islamism, has reportedly brought together individuals who are Somali religious-nationalists (or pan-Somali) and those more invested in borderless transnational militancy akin to Al-Qa’ida Central’s (AQC). Exact details and verification of reports coming out of Somalia are very difficult to verify..."
Read the rest of the post and view more photographs at AL-WASAT.