Two goals drive the current security policies of the United States and the international community in regard to Somalia: Eliminating piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, and stopping the growth of terrorist groups capable of conducting, facilitating, or supporting international attacks. The roots of both problems lie in anarchy; Somalia has gone 20 years without a central government following the fall of Siad Barre’s dictatorship in 1991. Since then the country has witnessed:
• A U.S. intervention under the guise of a U.N. humanitarian mission, which culminated in the 1993 “Blackhawk Down” incident
• The establishment of the autonomous breakaway regions of Somaliland and Puntland, still not recognized by the international community
• A revolving door of successive transitional governments having little authority over any of the country
• An Ethiopian invasion in 2006 in which an Islamist government that had exerted some effective control from Mogadishu was defeated.
In two decades nothing has prevented Somalia from becoming one of the world’s most failed states.