Insurgent order-making : militant Islamist rule and kinship-based communities in Somalia's Lower Jubba Province, 2006-2012
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This PhD project is about order-making outside the purview of the central state. It aims to increase our understanding of the complex political and social processes of order-making by Islamist insurgents who serve as de facto state authorities and set out to rule territories hosted by kinship-based communities. The main emphasis of this project is to understand how governing institutions are co-produced through the interaction of Islamist rulers and local kinship-based authorities and institutions. The empirical findings related to the political situation in Somalia’s Lower Jubba province between 2006 and 2012 acquired through fieldwork and semi-structured interviews in southern Somalia, a largely understudied area, represent without doubt the project’s most valuable scientific contribution. This particularly applies to the investigation into how the micro-level processes and mechanisms play out in the local contest, negotiations and cooperation between the new Islamist rulers and the pre-existing clan institutions, spearheaded by the various levels of clan elders. From the moment they conquered the major cities and population centers, the Islamist rulers clearly showed that they were the new masters, and that anyone, including the most powerful clan elders, were subordinate to the new ruling elite of relatively young Islamists. Yet the Islamists soon recognized the important function of the traditional institutions and, rather than fighting them, sought to co-opt and exploit the clan elders to their own benefit, most notably to increase local control and gain access to resources and some level of legitimacy. Although the clan elders’ powers were considerably reduced, not least their primary role as sole mediator in legal disputes, they retained some level of authority within their own clan constituencies. Despite the Islamist rulers’ dominant role in everyday affairs and administration, for example their management of legal issues and dispute mediation through the new qadi courts, the elders were often heavily involved in the court cases. Sometimes they were even given responsibility to mediate solutions outside of the courts. The clan elders would also be the ones most civilians went to complain about everyday concerns, including acts perpetrated by the Islamist administration. The clan elders were in some cases able to meet and jointly raise community concerns with their Islamist masters, resulting in moderations or adjustments to the Islamist administration’s behavior vis-à-vis the civilian communities. However, the clan elders were treading carefully so as not to be perceived as too oppositional and thereby risk their own lives and those of the members of their own clans. The clan institutions were far too divided along clan and sub-clan groups, without the trust or cohesion between them to mobilize sufficient resistance, non-violent or violent, to substantively transform the nature of insurgent rule. Yet the clan elders remained important for moderating and improving the daily life of the civilian communities under Islamist rule. The empirical richness of this project’s inductive, micro-level case study of Islamist insurgents ruling kinship-based populations makes valuable contributions to area studies of Somalia. It also provides a broader understanding of why and how several Islamist insurgents have succeeded in establishing and maintaining relatively stable and predictable state-like orders in territories dominated by communities largely divided by kinship group loyalties, where state actors and other militant groups have failed. Through exploring and explaining the interaction between and the synthesis of the organization of the ideological, yet pragmatic, Islamist rulers and pre-existing institutions and authority structures, this thesis informs debates within fields such as civil war studies, peace and conflict studies, rebel governance studies and peace-building. Following the micro-level turn in civil war studies and related fields, the project highlights the need for policy makers to have an intimate and deep understanding of local dynamics before acting, if acting at all.Dette PhD-prosjektet handler om å etablere orden utenfor rekkevidden av sentralstaten. Prosjektet har som mål å øke forståelsen for de komplekse politiske og sosiale prosessene som finner sted der islamistiske opprørere med de facto statsautoritet søker å etablere orden og styre områder og befolkningsgrupper preget av klantilhørighet. Prosjektets hovedfokus er å forstå hvordan lokale klanbaserte autoriteter og institusjoner interagerer med et islamistisk opprørsstyre. De empiriske funnene knyttet til den politiske situasjonen i Somalias Lower Jubba-provins mellom 2006 og 2012, et svært understudert område, ervervet gjennom feltarbeid og semistrukturerte intervjuer utgjør uten tvil prosjektets viktigste akademiske bidrag. Særlig undersøkelsen av de lokale prosessene og mekanismene som spiller seg ut i de pågående motsetningene, forhandlingene og samarbeidet mellom det nye islamiststyret og de pre-eksisterende klaninstitusjonene, ledet av ulike nivåer av klaneldre. Allerede fra øyeblikket de okkuperte de større byene og befolkningssentrene, viste islamiststyret tydelig hvem som var de nye herskerne, og at alle, inkludert de mest innflytelsesrike klaneldre var underlegne den nye, styrende eliten av relativt unge islamister. Samtidig anerkjente islamistene tidlig de tradisjonelle institusjonenes viktige funksjon og rolle i lokalsamfunnet, og, istedenfor å forsøke å bekjempe dem, søkte de å kooptere og utnytte de klaneldre til sin egen fordel. Spesielt gjennom å øke lokal kontroll, skaffe tilgang til lokale ressurser og etablere en viss grad av legitimitet. Selv om de lokale klaneldres makt ble kraftig redusert, blant annet gjennom å miste mye av sin rolle som primær mekler i juridiske disputter, opprettholdt de en viss grad av autoritet overfor sine klanmedlemmer.