11 Dec 2019

Salafi jihadi armed groups and conflict (de-)escalation

The case of al-Shabaab in Somalia

Since 2006 Somalia is caught in a spiral of violence and suffering from continuing attacks by the Salafi jihadi Armed Group (SJAG) al-Shabaab. This case study report asks under which circumstances al-Shabaab has reduced its violent behaviour in the past and explores the experiences and options for third party dialogue engagement.


Authors

Karin Göldner-Ebenthal

 

Outlining al-Shabaab’s development, the report analyses three strategic shifts of behavioural de-escalation identifying the organisational, ideological and external factors that contributed to the de-escalation. On the topic of dialogue engagement, the report maps past experiences, entry points and challenges for negotiations. Findings point to an opening in favour of negotiations as the military stalemate continues and highlights the important role of the Somali civil society for creating space for conflict transformation. Considering the lack of success of military approaches in defeating al-Shabaab and the very limited efforts of dialogue engagement with the SJAG, the report poses the question if al-Shabaab’s de-escalation is even possible without dialogue engagement?

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