Bronwyn: Okay. Thank you very much. I’m looking forward to a back and forth as we continue so I don’t have to talk consistently for so long. Basically, I wanted to start off by just exploring for a moment a fundamental question which is often overlooked in conversations about Somalia which is, what is the problem in that country? We tend to be really distracted a lot of the time by Al-Qaeda and by pirate antiques on the high seas. And those things tend to really distract from the core issues that play on the ground. We also have a tendency to describe the problem in Somalia using fairly academic terms like clan conflict or state failure, which again, they’re accurate descriptions of the problem but they are not really evocative of what’s causing the conflict. In a nutshell, Somalia suffered from a military dictatorship for 20 years and most of its problems stand back to that. Siad Barre, the military dictator used the system of clan politics to maintain his hold on power in which systematically pitted. Somalia has pretty much peaceful clans against each other. Partially through a policy that allowed certain clans to seize territory from others. The Siad Barre regime was very unpopular. It was supported primarily through arms and money shipments from the east and from the west during the cold war ended, it collapsed. And when it did that in 1901, there was an explosion of violence, a famine of a strong effort by the international community to intervene to resolve the war and to resolve the humanitarian crisis that resulted from it, and at the same there was a wave of migration from the north of the country down to the south in particular, the capital city of Mogadishu, which had primarily belonged to the Darod clan, was pretty much seized by the Hawiye and as many as 400,000 people were driven out of the city, so of the Mogadishu essentially changed hands. And those land seizures are the fundamental heart of why the Somali conflict has been so persistent. What we’ve seen in Somalia amounts to something very similar in many respects to the genocide in Rwanda. It’s not an ethnic conflict per se because all Somalis are ethnically Somali, but the clan identity have become so entrenched and the grievances have become so entrenched that what we’re really talking about is an ethnic conflict that simply hasn’t been resolved. There is good news in there, believe it or not. Basically, after the Black Hawk Down incident, which everyone remembers, it’s been immortalized in a film and it’s definitely been emblazoned on the American national consciousness as sort of the start of our difficult relationship with Africa, in Somalia in particular. Basically, after the Black Hawk Down incident, the United States more or less turned its back on Somalia. The country was effectively ostracized really for six or seven years up until the early 2000. During that period, the Somalis by themselves, without really any international support, started making a great deal of progress on the ground towards resolving these conflicts. And it’s a fact that’s almost consistently overlooked when we talk about Somalia. It’s a fact that between 1995 and 2001, the conflict in the country shifted from being a huge factional war between clans to being a series of extremely localized turf battles for the most part between sub-, sub-, sub-clans, and the economy which was devastated by the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in the war actually restarted in many parts of the country. The livestock trade was revitalized, telecommunications industries spraying up and what happened was a war economy began to shift towards a regular economy. The other wonderful thing that happened was without a lot of assistance from the outside, the extremist groups that had worried the United States on the 1990s like Al-Ittihad which was attached to Al-Qaeda went away. They pretty much collapsed because Somalia was just so inhospitable to those groups. So basically a whole roster of great things happened and Somalia’s economy was on par with the rest of the region, militant groups went dormant and the conflicts started to reduce. So it was on a pretty good trajectory.

Viewed 8873