In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Western world has been increasingly concerned with “failed states”. It is argued that the lack of governance is a security threat because such countries are used as safe heavens for terrorists who seek to attack Western states. This reasoning is part of a tendency in Western literature of describing state failure or collapse in cataclysmic terms, as if without a functioning state, societies descend into some kind of chaos or anarchy.
The issue of failed or fragile states has received considerable scholarly and policy attention during the last decade. The emergence of new forms of political order in states defined as failed, however, has not been subject to the same attention.
This thesis therefore seeks to understand how political order is crafted, by carefully examining the emergence of Islamic Courts in the southern parts of Somalia. In contrast to the dismal perception of Somalia, these Courts provided peace and stability to this region in the latter half of 2006.
It argues that, rather than seeing state collapse as the breakdown of a finished product, it should be treated as part of an ongoing process towards the creation of stable and viable forms of political order.
It assumes that political control relies on the ability to exert certain fundamental practices of statecraft, such as: the provision of security, the implementation of a legal system and the generation of revenues. They are not exclusive, but deemed necessary to develop competence in other areas. These three dimensions constitute the basis, from which the analysis is carried out.
My findings show that the courts efficiently restored law and order. They defeated the numerous militias and warlords spreading terror, and reduced crime. The subsequent capture of vital ports and markets enabled the courts to collect taxes, while claims of implementing Shari’a increased predictability and trust in society. The findings also reveal that Islam was a necessary and important, though not sufficient, condition for the outcome, as Islam enabled the movement to transcend clan controversies.