The current political system and political culture in Somalia is very different in contrast to African countries such as Ethiopia or Ghana for example. Due to the mixture of European nations that colonized Somalia, the current state of the nation is very fragmented and damaged. Both Italy and Britain, left large territories in Somalia without giving the Somaliland people any government structure to build off of. This has led to current political instability in the country. The state of Somalia quickly changed following the assassination of Somalia’s second president, Ali Shirmarke. A quick and vicious power struggle erupted in Somalia following this lost between various different factions who wished to gain control of certain territory within Somalia.
Without a strong centralized government and because of the rising anarchy; the Transitional Federal Government was established with the support of the United States, Ethiopia, United Nations, and the African Union. While this interim government system did not stop a great deal of violence it did allow Somalia to remain intact.
In addition, particularly prior to the implementation of the Transitional Federal Government, neo-patrimonialism did play a role in allowing the anarchy to flourish thus making it exceedingly more difficult to establish a central government. Many of the faction’s leaders wished to control territory for self-fulfillment, wealth, and personal gain. Very little resources were used to help strengthen Somalia’s citizens or infrastructure. The consequences of this resulted in the formation of a number of terrorist groups with strong grievances such as Al-Shabaab. Currently one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations, this terrorist group will cause significant turmoil for years to come as a result. To limit the emergence of similar groups, the Transitional Federal Government was much needed and critical in keeping the country together.
Somalia was then able to transition to a new federal parliament and speaker in 2012. President Hassan Mohamud was elected president and Somalia became the Federal Government of Somalia. President Mohamud has worked on continued growth and political stability however; a large portion of the country is still overrun by international terrorism and insurgencies. Without strong national security, Somalia has had difficulty improving on its new central government.
The political culture is still largely made up of hierarchal descent groups or clans. Clans have been an important part of Somali life since the past. The different clans can at times assist in unifying the nation but can also do great damage as the system is highly unstable. However, this traditional Somali political organization is still a large part of the Somali’s identity and must still play a role in stabilizing the country and unifying the Somali people.
Ultimately, Somalia’s political institution and culture play important roles in Somalia’s foreign policy and international relations. Somalia relies on the international community to assist both economically as well as with certain security measures. In many ways this assistance helps Somalia avoid being a failed state. Somalia continues to be a safe haven for terrorist, which has caused diplomatic issues with border neighbors such as Ethiopia. However because of terrorism’s threat to Western world, a great deal of attention is still given to Somalia’s government. Currently, Somalia does not have a concrete foreign policy plan until it deals with the variety of domestic issues that plague the Somali people. Although there is a clear lack of foreign policy, relationships with certain members of the international community as well as international organizations are still essential to the continued existence of Somalia. The United States, Saudi Arabia, World Bank, United Nations, and the Organization of African Unity are all assisting in a variety of different/ crucial ways. With a relatively new central government and a plethora of serious issues, Somalia will need serious assistance from the IC for a number of years before true stability.