Regional Dimensions of Somali Piracy and Militant Islamism: Anthropological and Econometric Evidence
AbstractThis paper argues for a sub-regional approach to Somali piracy and militant Islamism, departing from prevailing state-centric mindsets and practices. The first section presents an anthropology that explains why piracy and Islamism emerged where they did when they did. It elaborates the geographically distinct cultures of law and livelihood that enabled each phenomenon to emerge only in particular sub-regions. Drawing on diverse factors including xeer (clan-based law), sharia (Islamic law), and practices of nomadic pastoralism (e.g., livestock raiding), the paper proposes a regional lens for the analysis of Somali crime and governance. The next section takes up this regional lens and specifies a statistical model for the incidence of piracy by sub-state region from 1993 to 2011, identifying the effect of Islamist rule on piracy. In all, the paper contends (a) that Somali political and criminal phenomena be disaggregated by region; and (b) that pirates and Islamists, contrary to mainstream discourse, are antagonists.