This is a critical time for Somalia. There are less than 90 days until the end of the transitional federal government’s mandate on 20 August 2012, and the stakes are high for the delivery of the key components of the political ‘roadmap’, not least a new constitution. At the same time, the five-year insurgency that has wracked the south and central regions has entered a new phase, with fighting now along numerous fronts as the African Union peacekeeping mission has expanded to include forces from Kenya, with more promised from Djibouti and Sierra Leone. Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qa’ida-linked conglomerate, appears to be on the back foot: it has been bruised by Somali Army and AMISOM offensives and is internally divided. But the complex, changeable dynamics of Somalia’s recent past suggest that it is too early to call time on this persistent opponent of the TFG.
In response to the changing dynamics within Somalia and the growing regional and international interest in the country’s future, RUSI and the Brenthurst Foundation convened a one-day roundtable discussion in London in November 2011 to discuss the key issues facing Somalia during this time of political transition. This report summarises the roundtable discussion. It also includes three important essays from leading Somalis and Somalia observers, each of which emphasise the centrality of Somalis in shaping their own political future, as well as the continued role of the regional and international community; together with a special focus on the situation of women in Somalia during this time of change.