Chatham House: Independent thinking on international affairs

Reports and Papers

The Rise and Fall of Mogadishu's Islamic Courts

Briefing Paper
Cedric Barnes and Harun Hassan, April 2007

  • Multilateral efforts to support Somalia have been undermined by the strategic concerns of other international actors - notably Ethiopia and the United States.
  • Security in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has severely deteriorated since the US-backed Ethiopian intervention in the country.
  • The Islamic Courts, which were ousted, had strong support in the country but fell victim to the influences of 'extremist elements' within the country and an Ethiopian power eager for the Courts' downfall.
  • The standing of the Islamic Courts was damaged by their defeat but the subsequent disorder has served to make their time in control appear as a 'Golden Age'.
  • Support for the Courts has been fairly consistent for over a decade and is unlikely to melt away.
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