A 2012 paper from the international crisis.


Group concluded that the "international community made a mistake in recognizing the [Transitional Federal Government] as the national government, representative of all Somalia. The parliament is self-selected by those who had the means or connections to participate in the endless peace conferences in Arta, Mbagati, and Djibouti City that led to the formation of the last three transitional governments. Many legislators have few, if any, real ties to the local people they claim to represent. The president was then 'elected' by this non-representative institution. The government has failed to win the trust of most Somalis."

Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia scholar at Davison University and no partisan for anarchy, astutely noted in a 2007 article in International Security that at worst, "anarchist" Somalia has emulated existing international anarchy, developing bottom-up systems of "protection and access to resources ... through a combination of blood payment groups (diya), customary law (xeer), negotiation (shir), and the threat of force--mirroring in intriguing ways the practices of collective security, international regimes, diplomacy, and recourse to war, which are the principal tools of statecraft that modern states use to manage their own anarchic environment." But, he says, "these extensive and intensive mechanisms for both managing conflict and providing a modest level of security in a context of state collapse are virtually invisible to external observers, whose sole preoccupation is often with the one structure that actually provides the least amount of rule of law to Somalis--the central state."

The Somali people have decently functioning cultural and juridical practices that come surprisingly close to the private adjudication systems proposed by the anarcho-capitalist writers Murray Rothbard and David Friedman. That "legal" system, known as xeer, generally outlaws only direct physical harm to other people or their personal property. Xeer is built entirely around victim compensation, known as the diya, not punishment or imprisonment. Kinship groups have an interestingly sophisticated system of group insurance, essentially committing to pitching in to help make good on costly misbehavior by their relatives. (In a less Rothbardian touch, the largely nomadic pastoral Somalis don't recognize true individual ownership of landed property.)

The ICU's legal system tended toward a non-uniform syncretist mix of Shariah and xeer, with the former...

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