On the Ground in Somalia

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Davidson political science professor Ken Menkhaus in SomaliaProfessor reports from country facing myriad challenges.

By Bill Giduz

Professor of Political Science Ken Menkhaus was in Mogadishu, Somalia, just three days before the June United Nations (UN) compound bombing. He has long worked with international agencies to stabilize the violence-plagued country.

Menkhaus is currently conducting a political economy assessment of regulatory reform in Somaliland for the World Bank, in support of efforts to promote more business investments while protecting the interests of the Somaliland people. He also is studying institution-building and aid effectiveness in Somalia, part of a global comparative research project sponsored by the UN University.

Menkhaus reported that the UN compound was thought to be well protected, and is usually busy with a growing number of UN staff in support of the new government of President Mohamud (who is a friend of Menkhaus, and co-author with Menkhaus of a book chapter a few years ago).

The jihadi group Shabaab appears to have targeted the UN compound because it is the most visible sign of international support to the government, which Shabaab wants to undermine.

Menkhaus said the short-term impact of the attack will be to curtail even further the international presence in Mogadishu as security restrictions tighten. The attack is a blow to the Somali government, which has been trying to portray Mogadishu as a safe city for diplomats, aid workers and investors.

Menkhaus specializes in the Horn of Africa with focus on development, conflict analysis, peace operations, state failure, state-building and political Islam. He regularly serves as a consultant for the UN, U.S. government, non-governmental organizations, and policy research institutes, and as a senior fellow at the Enough Project, a national organization dedicated to ending genocide and crimes against humanity.

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