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Friday
Jul012011

Somalia Declared World's No. 1 Failed State, Terrorism Cited

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Somalia gained new notoriety this week, as revelations about recent U.S. drone strikes there surfaced and the Eastern African nation was ranked first on a list of the most failed states in the world.

The Fund for Peace launched its 2011 Failed State Index at an event earlier this week, listing Somalia as No. 1 for the fourth year in a row, due to a combination of "widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, abysmal development and piracy."

Somalia was also named an area of focus of the White House's new counter terrorism strategy, also released earlier this week. Somalia is home to Al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant group that pledged its support to al Qaeda in February 2010. A Center for Strategic and International Studies report released that month called the group better positioned than any other al Qaeda affiliate to actively cultivate homegrown extremism.

"Influenced by its al Qaeda elements, al-Shabaab has used terrorist tactics in its insurgency in Somalia, and could -- motivated to advance its insurgency or to further its al Qaeda agenda or both -- strike outside Somalia in East Africa, as it did in Uganda, as well as outside the region," according to the White House's National Strategy for Counterterrorism report published on June 28.

At the Failed States Index launch event earlier this week in Washington, D.C., Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, in advance of an expected decrease in U.S. foreign aid spending, warned American policymakers not to turn their backs on Somalia and such troubled nations.

Mullen acknowledged the nation's war "weariness" to spend overseas when there were things to fix at home, but appealed to other nations, as well as private and non-profit groups with knowledge and experience in failing states, to partner with the U.S. government before crisis erupted. He stressed there were no military solutions to fixing these failing states.

Mullen also warned the audience about Yemen, which appears on the index as 13th in failed states and is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; that country is another focus of the White House's new counterterrorism strategy.

Mullen said he was less worried about Afghanistan (No. 7) and Iraq (No. 9).

The Failed States Index's communications director, J.J. Messner, said that while the index should not be used to predict crisis, it could serve as an early warning system for policymakers to address alarming trends, such as the rising social, economic, political and military pressures on states.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio