Intrastate Conflicts

Topics: Somalia, Somali people, Somali Youth League Pages: 7 (2528 words) Published: November 22, 2011
Intrastate Conflicts

Rania Maroun 500319319

Dr. Abbas H. Gnamo
Ted Rogers School of Business Management
In partial fulfillment for the requirements
POL 540
November 7, 2011

Ryerson University
As a Lebanese citizen I have experienced firsthand the tragic result which intrastate violence leaves on a nation and its people. Intrastate conflicts have been the cause of the world’s many high profile displays of brutal and inhumane violent acts. In fact “most wars today take place within rather than between states” (Turton, 1997). From Somalia to Indonesia, intrastate conflicts are “particularly destructive of the lives and livelihoods of civilians, waged not against an invisible enemy but against neighbours, friends and even relatives” (Turton, 1997). Aside from the direct destruction of intrastate conflicts which have left up to 30 million people dead internationally since 1945 (Miall, Ramsbottom, Woodhouse, 1999), the long-term effects of these conflicts can be felt for generations. That is why understanding the reasons and how intrastate conflicts come about is essential to combating and eliminating their destructive results. Although some would argue that to understand intrastate conflicts, one must find common the common denominator, which would make them easier to identify and solve; is there really an underlying common denominator? Or the obvious reality is that interstate conflicts are context specific and completely vary in each incident, hence eliminating the concept of the common denominator for the reason of conflict. Moreover, looking and analyzing what many have said are the common natures of intrastate conflicts - colonial legacy, unstable political structure, external interests, and ethnic hatred, one will get a further understanding that intrastate conflicts are in their own right context specific. First of all, to argue that common factors are a possible are false because they may or may not be present. Also these common factors are present in other states but have never lead to interstate catastrophes of war and violence. So really this essay will be going over the named common factors in intrastate conflicts and arguing that they are actually 100% context specific, with their own set of problems and different variables that play a role in creating the devastating result of an internal war. As the topic and theories on intrastate violence are broad, this essay will be looking at the ongoing conflict in Somalia and how its intrastate conflict, while similar in nature to other international incidents of internal violence, is complicated and context specific. Main causes of the Somali conflict are politicized clan identity (ethnic hate), competition for resources and/or power (lack of governess or structure), the colonial legacy, and the availability of weapons (external involvement). Contributing causes were the presence of large number of unemployed youth and repression by the military regime (Elmi, 2010). Yet one cannot even come to comprehend the conflict without understanding the historical context of that nation, the region it is in, and the situation of the world around in. That is why it is important to consider the history of Somalia and nature of its government structure from an earlier point in history. Close to civilization and international trade for thousands of years, Somalia’s current inhospitable condition would never have been imaginable to the traders who prospered on its natural ports. Strategically located on the Horn of Africa, its harbours allowed trade from Europe and the rest of Africa to flow back and forth to India. In fact it was in the north, the land of the legendary Queen of Sheba, where the earliest part of Arabia flourished. It was this prosperity that made Somalia so important during the European scramble for Africa in the 1880s. Colonized and split into five parts between Great Britain, France, Italy, and Ethiopia, which later became...
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