Violent extremism is at the top of the global agenda today. In 2017, the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, made his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia. On 21st May 2017, the President Trump met leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit to discuss ways to cooperate against the threat of global terrorism and violent extremism. During the visit, the Global Counter Extremism Centre was inaugurated in Riyadh.
Since the 9/11 attacks, various Counter Violence Extremism (CVE) related initiatives have been undertaken at both global and national level. The earliest practical CVE strategy was the United Kingdom’s Prevent programme, while the 2016 “UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism” is the most comprehensive global initiative. Regionally, in the Horn of Africa, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has also formulated a CVE strategy for the region and a Centre of Excellence. Within the Horn of Africa, Somalia, given its unique and intractable political and security challenges, is expected to have a special focus and context specific CVE strategy.
As the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), with the support of its international partners, moves towards developing and implementing a comprehensive CVE strategy and program, it is imperative to review the context for a successful strategy and outcome. While there is a dearth of robust outcome studies to identify which interventions are most effective at preventing violent extremism, there is sufficient empirical evidence to start learning and understanding about the effective practices in general activities and how specific interventions can be useful in targeted groups and areas. The purpose of this article is to review the context and key actors, highlight the opportunities for effective CVE in Somalia, and given the delicate nature of the subject, avoid the pitfalls.