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Podcast: 'In Chains' Episode 3

In the third episode of our new themed series In Chains, we speak with Dr. Alexis Aronowitz from University College Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands, who is the author of the article, “Regulating business involvement in labor exploitation and human trafficking” published in Journal of Labor and Society.

Brill Publishes Two New Book Series in the Social Sciences

Brill is pleased to announce the addition of two new peer-reviewed book series to its Social Sciences publishing program: International Studies in Maritime Sociology and Studies in Political Economy of Global Labor and Work. The series will be published online and in print.

Brill adds Two New Journals to Its Social Sciences Publishing Program

Two journals, the Journal of Labor and Society (JLSO) and Protest, have been added to Brill’s expanding publishing program in the Social Sciences. Both journals will be published online and in print. Previous volumes of JLSO are already available on Brill’s website, the first issues of Protest are planned for publication in 2021.


Acquisitions Editor


Jason Prevost

V&R unipress

Julia Schwanke


The election of ‘Abdullaahi Yuusuf as president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) in October 2004 was the much-desired outcome of a long diplomatic exercise that started on 12 October 2002 and was mostly framed by the ‘9/11’ context in the Horn of Africa. As such, this election should be analysed as both the failure of the Transitional National Government (TNG) set up in ‘Arta (Djibouti) in summer 2000 and the result of a limited political process that took place in Kenya with the mediation of both a regional organisation (IGAD) and the international community. Both the expected appointment of a cabinet in early January 2005 and the divisions that arose over its resettlement in Somalia raised concerns about TFG's future. Furthermore, among the many challenges TFG had to address was a real reconciliation process among Somalis themselves, as well as negotiations with the self-proclaimed independent Somaliland.


Somalia continued to struggle with two main problems: the violent Islamist insurgent movement al-Shabaab, still in control of large chunks of the interior and destabilising the country, and the task of establishing a credible national administration with a nationwide programme for economic and social recovery. In both fields, results were mixed and precarious. African peacekeeping troops remained essential in assisting the new Somali Federal Government (SFG) in Mogadishu to reclaim south-central Somalia from al-Shabaab and helped the government to gradually expand its territory. The overall security situation, especially in the south, only improved marginally. Al-Shabaab still held on to the coastal town of Baraawe and some other minor towns in the interior, and its terror attacks created numerous victims. US special forces kept up operations to neutralise the al-Shabaab leadership, but its main leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was not caught. With regard to political and institutional developments, the SFG could not assert its own authority and was heavily dependent on donor countries and the various specialist organisations and agencies of the UN. They were deeply involved in providing the SFG with logistical, financial and political support and training in all fields. Economically, Somalia showed some recovery across the board, with more Somali diaspora investment, remittances and returnees. Donor support for the government remained strong, but problems of maladministration and corruption were a continuing hindrance.

The general situation in Somalia continued to improve somewhat. The forces of the au, and their fledgling Somali allies, advanced throughout 2014, and the Islamist al-Shabaab were forced to abandon several cities. Conditions in the capital, Mogadishu, were improving and construction activities were rampant, although some districts remained dangerous. In the north of the country, conditions were stable, although serious challenges continued to be evident. Somalia was, however, still struggling with several long-term problems. First, al-Shabaab still controlled the middle Juba territory and large parts of Mudug, in addition to several smaller cities. Although not able to defeat the forces of the au in open combat, al-Shabaab showed itself able to survive all over southern Somalia, and implemented large-scale terror attacks throughout 2014 in both Somalia and Kenya, with several indications of increasingly significant sympathetic support in Tanzania and Burundi. Second, several other conflicts that did not involve al-Shabaab grew in importance throughout the year. Tensions emerged between clan-based government forces and the Benadiri in lower Shabelle region, between government forces and local groups in Duhsamareb and Jowhar, and in the north between local militias, mostly hailing from the Sool and Sanaag provinces and Puntland/Somaliland. Significant and often clan-based tensions also emerged between various regional entities and between several of these and the central government. Underlying were serious disagreements over the degree of centralisation of powers in the central government. Third, state-building processes were lacking, and important governmental services, such as the police, received infrequent pay, and rampant corruption and ill-discipline plagued the whole government sector, including the Somali armed forces.


Somalia remained a divided country on ‘life support’ from the international donor community in the political, financial and military domains. The Somali Federal Government (sfg) maintained itself in power and steadily but very slowly expanded its reach and influence in south central Somalia, supported by high inflows of donor funds. Somaliland remained an autonomous region, consistently refusing to consider merging politically with the rest of the country. Puntland, nominally under the Transitional Federal Government, remained an autonomous territory. Elections for the sfg presidency previously announced for 2015 were delayed by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud.


Developments in Somalia were marked by three main issues: serious drought and resulting famine conditions (again necessitating large-scale international humanitarian assistance); preparations for the upcoming presidential elections; and ongoing issues of security and governance. The ‘promise’ of recovery that had appeared on the horizon a couple of years before seemed to dissipate, despite the conclusion of the ‘Somali Compact’ in September 2013, the gradual retreat of the Islamist al-Shabaab terrorist movement, and the slow reconstitution of the Somali Federal Government (sfg). The sfg and the various self-declared regional political units continued to show they were hardly competent to govern or to set serious agendas for public policy. The country did not achieve major breakthroughs in either defeating al-Shabaab or expanding its institutional capacity and territorial grip on the country because of perennial centrifugal tendencies among (sub-)clan groups and self-serving elites. The elections for a new president, announced in 2015, were prepared, but were eventually delayed to 2017 because of logistical, political and security problems. Foreign donors and other international players (e.g., Qatar) tried to actively influence the process and remained important as sources of funding. Private business slowly expanded in all three regions of Somalia (Puntland, Somaliland and South-Central), bringing some economic growth despite the conditions of drought, major insecurity and uncertainty. Overseas remittances remained the largest source of income for the Somali population. The number of idps stayed in the range of hundreds of thousands, due to famine conditions, livelihood crises and insecurity.


Somalia remained a basket case of humanitarian emergency, political instability and violent confrontations, with here and there islands of urban investment, economic development and reconstruction. The Somali Federal Government remained a problematic outfit, not significantly expanding its political-territorial control or governmental authority over the country, marred by corruption, and still largely dependent on donor-funding, remittances, and amisom peace-keeping forces combatting al-Shabaab. This movement committed the worst car bombing in Somali history, with 512 people killed in a public slaughter in Mogadishu. The movement did not change its course or develop any constructive agenda for Somalia’s societal or political future, and rejected any negotiations.


Somalia continued to struggle to be a country and remained marred in conflict and internal division. The northern self-declared state of Somaliland retained stability and steady economic growth despite drought and other problems. The south-central part remained highly insecure and saw diverse regional political units asserting their autonomy, with the Somali Federal Government (sfg) in Mogadishu nominally keeping the fledgling federal institutions and national army together. There was some improvement in building governance structures. sfg president Mohamed Abdullahi remained in position and retained the hesitant confidence of the international (donor) community. But the territorial-institutional expansion of the sfg was slow, and large areas remained under the control of the Islamist terror movement ‘Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahiddeen’, which continued its violent course as usual, offering no new political ideas or compromise solutions. Hundreds of people again fell victim to its lethal violence. The au mission to Somalia (amisom) and various special forces assisted the sfg in subduing the movement, but despite successful strikes against its leadership and bases, they could not dislodge it. The economy was a mixture of laissez-faire private enterprise and government activities, demonstrating an unregulated and vibrant dynamism but propped up by remittances, donor support, military assistance, and peacekeeping efforts by amisom. Business conditions were extremely challenging, marred by high insecurity and pervasive corruption.


Somalia saw continuity in shaky federal government authority and deep insecurity for its population, both militarily and with regard to livelihoods. The federal government improved some of its governance institutions but only marginally extended its writ over the country. Somaliland maintained its de facto independence and did comparatively well. The Islamist terror movement al-Shabaab remained entrenched in Somali society in multiple ways, and carried out an undiminished string of violent attacks on government personnel, institutions, and civilians, with hundreds of people killed and infrastructure gravely damaged. The humanitarian situation was dire, with widespread poverty, economic insecurity, and vulnerability to climate change effects. While the Gulf States vied for more influence, overall international interest in the country declined somewhat, due to disappointment with the lack of political and institutional progress. The economy showed modest growth, roughly equal to population growth. Donor financial and logistical support for the au’s peacekeeping force the African Union Mission in Somalia and associated private security companies continued, as did security assistance from various countries (usa, eu, Turkey, some Gulf countries) and donor country support to the federal government and for humanitarian relief.


Somalia’s political instability continued, but the federal government kept its ground and solidified some of its services and administrative structures, although still in a limited area of south-central Somalia. Its population remained vulnerable to poverty and insecurity and was mainly dependent on its own socioeconomic resourcefulness and on support from abroad (donor aid and remittances). Somaliland retained its separate, independent status and, despite several meetings, saw little rapprochement with the Somali Federal Government. Economically and politically, Somaliland was again more stable and functional than its southern neighbour. There was no let-up in the violence of the Islamist terror movement Harakat al-Shabaab al Mujahideen in south-central Somalia, which remained an important presence in Somali society. But while it carried out a range of attacks on government personnel and the general public, costing the lives of hundreds, it did not make territorial or political gains. The humanitarian situation remained grave, with a high number of idps, economic insecurity, and widespread poverty, all aggravated by the spread of Covid-19. Environmental issues and climate change dangers were hardly addressed. International interest in the country receded somewhat, with fewer international visitors due to lack of major political progress, insecurity, and the Covid-19 restrictions. However, international support for the au’s peacekeeping force, the African Union Mission in Somalia (amisom), was maintained, and associated private security companies also remained active. The USA, the EU, Turkey, and some Gulf countries also gave developmental and budgetary assistance alongside security assistance, and as usual, various Western countries also supported the federal government with humanitarian relief provision.


Somalia remained a country in precarious conditions, much dependent on ‘life support’ provided by donors and the diaspora. The division continued between Southern (federal) Somalia and Somaliland. Politics showed a divided ruling elite. There was continued violent terrorist contestation by the insurgent Islamist movement al-Shabaab and a critical humanitarian situation, with millions of idps and people dependent on food aid. The country continued to be propped up by massive donor country funding and remittances from overseas Somali communities, contributing to political instability in Southern Somalia, which saw growing rivalry between the president and the prime minister. This led to recurring disagreements and repeated delays to the presidential elections – which were not held this year as planned. The standoff also precluded decisive advances in institution-building and service delivery. The al-Shabaab movement, aiming vaguely for an ‘Islamic state’, was kept at bay but endangered security across the country by continuing its indiscriminate violent attacks on government personnel, businesses, the media, and public places, also causing hundreds of civilian casualties. Autonomous Somaliland showed a more stable and relatively peaceful picture, with successful parliamentary and local elections concluded, but it made little progress in its attempts to achieve international recognition. Somalia’s relations with the international ‘donor community’ were at times tense, with the federal government rejecting too much ‘interference’ from outsiders. Relations with Ethiopia were good, with Kenya less so. Humanitarian and environmental conditions steadily deteriorated and livelihoods were very precarious, contributing to societal instability and volatility.