Talk:Somalia/Archive 3

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4

"Never formally colonized"?

Despite the fact that two colonies existed in what is now Somalia, Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland, the article simply states outright that Somalia was "never formally colonized". This ought to be removed.

Simfan34 (talk) 17:06, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree. The Indian Ocean part of Somalia was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy while the Gulf of Aden part was a protectorate of the British Empire. I hope these facts are reflected in the article. lamochila (talk) 14:45, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Northwest Somalia was a protectorate throughout its entire existant while under British administration. The Northeast, Central and Southern regions were also for most of their existance during the Italian presence(which was concentrated in small coastal enclaves) either independent, or a protectorate through treaties signed with Somali Sultans. Only in the brief period of Facist rule when Somalia was combined with recently conquered Ethiopia and Eritrea was 'direct rule' actually enforced and this in itself lasted less than a decade, until the Horn of Africa was put under a British military administration after WW II. This continued until 1950 when Southern Somalia became a trusteeship with increasingly self rule, while Northern Somalia remained a protectorate. Somalia's experience of European hegemony is unique on the continent and therefore should not be misrepresented. --Scoobycentric (talk) 21:08, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

I haven't looked into British Somaliland, but I note that there is an entire Wikipedia article devoted to Italian Somalis [[1]]. So, what does 'never formally colonized' mean exactly? I am concerned that the reader is being given incorrect impressions. The first time I read this, I assumed that there had in fact been no 'colonization' efforts by the European powers, in the sense of no organized settlement by colonists. I now have to qualify that in my mind, as something that bears further investigation, and I am beginning to have an impression that certain statements in the article cannot be taken at face value. That concerns me. Corlyon (talk) 19:01, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The Italian Somalians article was largely written by a now-blocked Italian user who also used to haunt the Libyan, Eritrean and Albanian articles, among others i.e. areas where Italy had some sort of historical presence. It therefore unfortunately contains a lot of exaggerations. What Scoobycentric has written above is correct & basic Somali history. The Somali relationship with the imperial European powers has always been a unique one, one which began with various treaties signed between both parties. It did not begin with conquest. These treaties of protection (a protectorate is not the same thing as a colony, and neither is a trust territory) & otherwise mutual understanding were also respected by both Britain and Italy, but subsequently ignored by Italy during a brief decade or so in the Fascist era. It was by no means an ordinary relationship, but rather a very nuanced one that defies simple labels such as "colonization". This too is explained in some detail in the article. I'll leave you with David D. Laitin, a veteran historian & Somali Studies stalwart: "Because Somalia was never really colonized, its trade was not closely tied to the states which purported to rule the territory." -- Politics, language, and thought: the Somali experience, p.135 Middayexpress (talk) 22:00, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for that explanation, but I keep running across evidence of at least some references to Italian colonization of what is today Southern Somalia, that seem to be thoughtful and reasonable. Examples are Helen Chapin Metz, ed. Somalia: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1992. available online at [2] in which the author states the following: The plantation system began in 1919, with the arrival in Somalia of Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, duke of Abruzzi, and with the technical support of the fascist administration of Governor Cesare Maria de Vecchi de Val Cismon. The Shabeelle Valley was chosen as the site of these plantations because for most of the year the Shabeelle River had sufficient water for irrigation. That sounds like traditional colonization efforts. An academic by the name of Robert Hess published a book in 1966 with the title Italian Colonialism in Somalia. There is further discussion of the Italian colonial efforts at Villabruzzi in A historical companion to postcolonial literatures: continental Europe and its empires edited by Prem Poddar, Rajeev Patke and Lars Jensen which at pp 310-311 Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, in her article "Italy and its Colonies" discusses the Villabruzzi plantations and notes that Mogadishu had a population of 20,000 Italians and 30,000 Somalis in 1935. The writer notes: However, the determination of the Fascist state to impose its rule and the generous/lenient way of treating defeated rebels finally led to a quite well centralised colonial rule." Can the introduction make the unqualified statement that Somalia was 'never formally colonized' when there are academics writing books and articles about Italian colonialism? Is there a difference of opinion among academics or are people using different definitions of the term 'colonized'? As a reader my initial impression was there had in fact been no European attempt to colonize Somalia, but these sources seem to be indicating there was at least some limited plantation and colonization in Italian Somalia. Corlyon (talk) 04:28, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Just so it's clear, we are not talking about attempted colonization or settlements in distant lands here, but actual colonization. The fact that the Somali territories were under protectorate agreements (not colonies) with the imperial European powers for most of their existence has already been noted, so I'm not going to waste anyone's time and repeat it. That said, with regard to the Italian plantation system: the workers in that system were not Somali, but rather the same peoples that used to work the Somali & Arab lands before the Italians nominally 'prohibited' slavery at the start of the 1920's (only, of course, to later forcibly conscript these same peoples to work their own plantations). In other words, that's a reference to Somalia's Bantu or Gosha minorities:

"While upholding the perception of Somalis as distinct from and superior to the European construct of "black Africans", both British and Italian colonial administrators placed the Jubba valley population in the latter category. Colonial discourse described the Jubba valley as occupied by a distinct group of inferior races, collectively identified as the WaGosha by the British and the WaGoscia by the Italians. Colonial authorities administratively distinguished the Gosha as an inferior social category, delineating a separate Gosha political district called Goshaland, and proposing a "native reserve" for the Gosha." -- Unraveling Somalia: Race, Class, and the Legacy of Slavery by Catherine Lowe Besteman, p.120

As has already been pointed out, the actual Somali experience of the imperial period was a unique one; perhaps more so than you realize. There was very little discernible effect on the economic, political, educational and religious lives of the Somalis. This is also true with regard to land possession, even during the Fascist period. As the aforementioned Somali Studies veteran David D. Laitin points out, in terms of:

"Economically, almost nothing was done before the Fascist era. The members of the Filonardi Company and the Benaadir Company were traders; they replaced the Arabs rather than bringing about any kind of economic change. Even the Fascist-inspired plantations have had little economic consequences for Somalis. The labor used was usually forced; and in the Genale irrigation project for banana production, many Somalis claim that the Fascists used slaves. This forced labor came from the Bantu populations along the Shabeelle river, and not from the nomadic Somalis. The plantations, while they have led to Somalia's second largest export item, have had little impact on the pastoral or subsistence agricultural economies." -- Politics, language, and thought: the Somali experience (PLTSE), p.64


"Politically, the effects of Italian rule seem to have been equally limited. In Geledi (I am again relying on Luling's analysis) the nomadic peoples had a titular head attached to their shir -- an important modification of their political structure -- but this seemed to have been more a de jure than a de facto change. With the more sedentary Geledi, the sultan became qadi or warrant chief, and class structure was left unaltered. Perhaps the major political change due to Italian rule was pacification. The Geledi, who were warriors, had to stop their policy of expansion and conquest and thus lost their supreme status on this part of the Benaadir coast. The Geledi were also forced to emancipate their slaves; but this was done only on the statute books. The Geledi people had traditionally engaged in service trades and managed the work of the xabash and the slaves, and they continued to do so. "The traditional political structure was preserved intact in its outline, but with its functions restricted." -- PLTSE, p.64-65


"The Italian educational input, in Hess's words, was one of "virtually complete neglect." In 1907, the Dante Alighieri Society established a school at Muqdisho to teach Italian to Somali children. Its one teacher received a salary of sixty lire monthly. The school soon closed, and no attempts to open new schools were made until 1922. Some of the schools for Italian children accepted some mulattoes, Arabs, and Somalis, but this was a mere token. The Fascist era brought some change but, again, very little. Up to 1929, the Italian government provided some three hundred thousand lire per annum for education, but in 1929, under the Fascists, the figure jumped to three million. By 1934, 1,265 Somalis were in Italian schools, with elementary schools in Muqdisho, Marka, Afgoy, Jowhar, Brava, Baydhabo, Jilib, and Kismaayo. However, there were no Somalis in Middle Form (grades 8-10) or higher... Education developed far more rapidly under the trusteeship agreement." -- PLTSE, p.65


"In Italian Somaliland, which contains about 250,000 Mohammedans and about 50,000 pagans, there are apparently no Christian missions." -- History of Christian Missions by Charles Henry Robinson, p. 356

Land possession:

"The story is similar in regard to land. Because the Shabelle did not become Italy's Nile, Hess notes, "the Somali were spared the hardship of being deprived of large areas of their land.... Consequently, throughout the colonial period the Somali did not suffer alienation of their lands, and the traditional way of life was little affected by the acitivities of the Italian concessions along the rivers." Virginia Luling observed no Geledi distress or bitterness about the land. The paucity of settlers, the unproductiveness of the land, and the problem of labor (the Geledi people themselves would not have considered doing farm work) meant that "the taking up of land did not have the profound effect on South Somali society which someone familiar with other colonial territories might anticipate." -- PLTSE, p.64

The only really meaningful influence the Italians left behind was perhaps that of the Italian language itself:

"In contrast to the political, social, religious, and administrative impact of the period of Italian rule, the influence of the Italian language was significant. I.M. Lewis was impressed by the level of Italian in Somalia, and claimed it was "fairly widespread" -- partly because Italian is relatively easy to learn." -- PLTSE, p.67

Other than that, the attempted colonization of Somalia during that brief decade or so in the 1930's Fascist period was something of a bust; little was left in the way of legacy:

"The Italians never succeeded in their attempted role of colonial masters. They were sometimes perceived as allies (by the Geledi in their fight with the Biimaal) and sometimes as enemies (by Maxamad Cabdille Xasan and his Dervishes), but rarely were they seen as masters. The love-hate relationship, so often present between colonized and colonizer, seemed not to occur in the Somali case -- in part because of the incompetence of the colonizers and in part because of the vitality and resiliency of the colonized society... The Italian presence in Somalia can therefore be characterized as one of inconsistent goals and low levels of penetration. There was little attempt to institutionalize stratification among Somalis or to induce a colonial mentality among the subject peoples. The Italian language was transferred to some extent, but without the cultural values or political institutions from which it derived." -- PLTSE, p.68-69

"It is not surprising that the legacy of more than a half century of Italian rule in Somalia is hardly greater than the Somali addiction to pasta and Italian " westerns" and the development of a small corps of Somalis literate in Italian." -- PLTSE, p.57

Besides the fact that a protectorate & trusteeship are not the same thing as a colony, this, in an nutshell, is what the sources mean when they state that Somalia was never really colonized. Middayexpress (talk) 00:25, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Middayexpress, thanks for your explanation. Wizzy 08:14, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes thank you for your reasoned response. It is helpful to the discussion and that is appreciated. Corlyon (talk) 06:12, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

There is a clear double standard of nomenclature being applied to this part of Africa and its very brief history of foreign hegemony. Nazi Germany with its Lebensraum policy was far more successful in colonising parts of Europe from the 1930s until 1945, yet there is nobody arguing for Germany's hold on Poland, Holland, France and many parts of Eastern Europe to be dubbed colonisation, instead these events are termed occupations despite the fact that there are plenty of books and articles that use the former term, and speak of German settlements(many of those populations had to flee back to Germany with the Red Army's advance). Middayexpress has illustrated very elaborately why Somalia's experience of Imperial rule should not be generalised or misrepresented, because many Somalist scholars have highlighted the almost non-existant impact they had on Somali society. --Scoobycentric (talk) 16:03, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't think there's any double standard, just an effort to understand the use of the term "never formally colonized" in this context when there are clearly many sources discussing a real attempt at a 'colony', albeit on a smaller scale than in other parts of the continent, and creating perhaps only a marginal and fleeting impact. Corlyon (talk) 06:12, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Various matters

Regions and districts section: has strange columns. If this is not deliberate, please say here, and I will fix it. It looks intentional, so I didn't make the edit. Also, Temperature section: December drops to zero -- suddenly? Me thinks not. Please advise.

Thanks. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 08:39, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

The below-freezing point temperature in December is a reference to the lows that are sometimes reached in the mountainous areas of northern Somalia such as the Cal Madow mountain range. While it doesn't quite snow up there like it does in Mount Kenya or especially Mount Kilimanjaro, for example, it can get pretty cold during that time of year. Middayexpress (talk) 07:19, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

The notion of a failed state

It's a bit strange - when one reads this article, there is no real indication that the country is in such a state as to be listed in first place on Foreign Policy's listing of failed states. I appreciate there is an article "Anarchy in Somalia" which discusses this, but should this not be at least alluded to in this main article? Random name (talk) 23:31, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

It occurs to me that I ought to explain my point a bit further. If one takes, for example, the politics section; I would have expected the politics section to have less detail than the main politics in Somalia page, while having a broad summary of the current political state of the country. Instead, the politics section rattles off a reasonably detailed precis of the last few years with little external context, and does not really make clear the current state as summed up in the opening paragraph of the politics in Somalia article. Any thoughts? Random name (talk) 00:03, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with you on this. There is a lot of detail packed into several sections, but I find the article difficult to grasp as an overview. For me it's a 'can't appreciate the forest for the trees' thing. Perhaps much of what is here (assuming it's all factually correct and verifiable, and I have no reason to think otherwise) should be in the subarticles, while this article should be written as more of a summary. The "State of Somalia" and "Politics" sections seem particularly detailed. I don't have the knowledge base about Somalia to feel comfortable trying to rewrite this myself however. Corlyon (talk) 04:50, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
The issue of Anarchy in Somalia and the country being a failed state should be addressed in the Somali Civil War subsection as they are resultant from that phenomenon. There definitely is a lot of information on the main Somalia page, I agree that a shortening of the sections is necessary, I noticed that, for example, the Politics of Somalia section is as long, if not longer, than the entire article on the politics of Somalia. Other matters need factual checks such as the claim that average monthly low for December is 0 degrees, which I personally find unbelievable. lamochila (talk) 09:30, 02 March 2010 (UTC)

Sorry to chime in late to this discussion, but Random Name makes an extremely valid point. The only indication I get from the lead that Somalia might just be the world's worst example of a failed state for the past two decades is "Despite suffering from civil strife and instability..." The rest of the article is neatly organized and well written like most of our country articles, except that it really leaves a genuinely odd impression considering the state of things. Joshdboz (talk) 21:33, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

The notion that Somalia is "the world's worst example of a failed state for the past two decades" is inaccurate for a number of reasons. Firstly, the conflict in Somalia (which is thoroughly discussed & linked to in the article) is restricted to the southern portions of the nation, and it's this conflict that has attracted such sensationalistic proclamations. There is no war in the northern half of the country; there hasn't been since well nigh the mid-1990's, shortly after the civil war broke out in 1991. In fact, despite having comparatively few natural resources, the northern regions of the country actually economically outperform many other nominally more stable countries in Africa and are in some respects much more peaceful too. This irony is likewise explained. Secondly, this "failed state" notion is based on the idea that a country needs to observe civil law in order to be functional. The Somalis, however, have their own indigenous, centuries-old system of law that they have simply gone back to after the collapse of the federal government; it wasn't "chaos", as is sometimes reported. It is often difficult for the uninitiated to understand this quandry, which is understandable given the catchy, sweeping soundbites that certain media insist on publishing in place of actual research on the country. (For example, ask the average person just why exactly the Somalis are even at war, or who the principal actors in the conflict are & have been over the years, or why the conflict hasn't been resolved sooner, and they wouldn't be able to provide a satisfactory response, though they probably could with regard to the intifada or the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s). But this isn't the case with all media. Others provide a much more nuanced, complete and informed picture on the current state of affairs (e.g. 1, 2, 3) -- one that cannot be supplanted by simplistic and ultimately inaccurate terms. Middayexpress (talk) 02:14, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
It may be all fine and nice that Somalis practice their own system of law, but that doesn't change the fact that they fit accepted definitions of 'failed state'. The authorities that classify somalia as a failed state carry much more weight than your say-so. The article should be changed to reflect this important fact. Therefor I am changing my addition to the final introductory paragraph back. I'm much more inclined to believe the United Nations, and most other authoritative sources, as to the the state of living conditions in somalia, as opposed with you saying that everything is perfect. - (talk) 00:11, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Sorry IP, but the "failed state" label still only applies to regions in southern Somalia since northern Somalia is actually quite peaceful and relatively prosperous and has been for almost two decades now. The reductive "failed state" label is still also a misnomer since Somalis do, in fact, have a system of law (Xeer), which they do and have always observed, irrespective of whether or not certain state institutions are all they could be. And under Xeer, the Somali economy & other sectors are actually thriving, not hurting (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). The "authorities" that claim Somalia is a failed state likewise have no experience specifically with Somalia, and when they sort of do, it's usually in their interest to exaggerate the situation in the country. The latter includes the UN, which has recently come under fire for meddling in local politics, and for profiteering over the situation in southern Somalia and actually helping prolong and aggravate the conflict (e.g. 1, 2, 3). By contrast, the actual authorities that do have an understanding of Somalia, its functioning, history and nuances, categorically reject the "failed state" label and describe it as inaccurate, to put it mildly. This includes the current President of Somalia (1) and all scholars within the specialized field of Somali Studies. And per WP:VER, "academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources where available." Middayexpress (talk) 01:45, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I will once again add the failed state sentence into the article for the following reasons, in addition to any reasons given by me above. First, I see you have links to 'BNet' for an 'african business' article, 'the free man online' etc. None of those are academic peer reviewed sources. I'm not really sure to what extent there are established scientific journals on 'failed states'. So that's something of a moot point. Your assertion that the 'current president of Somalia doesn't view somalia as a failed state' is borderline moronic. Of course he wouldn't publicly say his own country it failed! Hitler didn't talk about the human rights violations under the third-reich, Stalin never called the Soviet Union 'Totalitarian'. Citing something the president is saying is perhaps the worst source imaginable. Further, the articles you linked to which I bothered to skim, all cited "Despite the chaos and the absence of a state structure..." (Your first unathoratative linked source) "...Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since the fall of Siad Barre’s dictatorship in 1991..." (Your second unathoratative linked source), etc. etc. But all of that misses the point entirely. Failed state is not a term that you or I can give to a country based on our knowledge or understanding, it is a widely accepted label based on criteria set forth by Fund for Peace, and Somalia being the number one failed state by that prominent and widely cited index is notable for this encyclopedia article on Somalia. I would remind you that this isn't a tourist brochure. - (talk) 01:29, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
Settle down IP and do try to remain civil. Despite your not posting using an account, the choice of words in your edit summaries (1) betray someone already familiar enough with Wikipedia's policies to know better than to describe any part of another editor's posts as "moronic", or some other rude variation thereof. The so-called "Fund for Peace" is not an academic source. You know it, and so do I. It is no authority at all on what goes on in Somalia. It is also not even close to being a neutral source, and has been described by none other the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton as, among other things, "long one of the most openly pro-communist outfits in the country". As you've correctly pointed out, the index provided by that "pro-communist", unauthoritative outfit is the very source of the false notion that Somalia is a "failed state" (your own words: "Failed state is not a term that you or I can give to a country based on our knowledge or understanding, it is a widely accepted label based on criteria set forth by Fund for Peace"). And as I'm sure you already know, advocacy groups and otherwise questionable sources are not allowed on Wikipedia. Also refer to this article from New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI) on why it's actually the new-fangled "failed state" concept itself that is a failure, not the countries arbitrarily labeled as such for what the article clearly explains are political reasons (not empirical ones). Further, your quotes cherry-picked from the intros to the academic papers (including the well-respected African Business journal) I have supplied above only do you a disservice since the rest of all of those articles go one to completely debunk the same "failed state" farce that you insist on pushing. You are correct about one thing though, and that is that this Wikipedia article is not a brochure for Somalia -- nor can anyone who has actually read it seriously claim that it is. What you don't seem to understand, however, is that it is not a brochure against the country either (see WP:NOTSOAPBOX for more on that). Middayexpress (talk) 02:59, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

A more realistic POV

The above discussions, especially the one about piracy in somalia, all indicate that people are interested in a REALISTIC picture of somalia. Traditional maritime piracy, for better or worse, exists in Somalia and the waters immediately surrounding Somalia. The Pirates are, for the most part, Somali. Their bases are on Somali territory. Now Middayexpress will attempt to argue that: just because these pirates are somali, live on somali territory, consume goods and services either produced in somalia or the territorial waters thereof, hail from somalia, are ethnic somali, are referred to by the: New York Times, US State department, EU, Newsweek, The Associated Press, etc. as "Somali Pirates"; these pirates actually have nothing to do with somalia and that they shouldn't be mentioned in the article. I will also add a references to somalia's notable position on the top of the Failed state index. I have nothing against somalia, but this article comes off as if somalia is an awesome place to live, with a thriving modern economy, good healthcare, etc. That isn't the case, plane and simple, somalia is in a bad way. The government has failed essentially, the people are fleeing as refugees to all manner of places, this article mentions very little about it. - (talk) 03:35, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Illustrating my point: [3] The first sentence of the United Nations HCR website on somalia is: "Somalia is a failed state and remains one of the most insecure places in the world, with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis." Somehow this isn't reflected in the article. Perhaps the UN is overstating how bad the situation is, but they aren't the only authoritative body saying that. - (talk) 03:54, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Actually IP, the piracy issue has already been resolved and is indeed mentioned in the article, only I suspect not to the extent you would like. Contrary to what you have attempted to argue above, the pirates also are not all ethnic Somali (as I've repeatedly pointed out above with links) nor do they spend most of their revenue in Somalia; they spend it in Kenya and other countries, which is partly why there has been a huge local backlash of late against them. I'm sorry if your unfamiliarity with Somalia causes you to not be aware of the many economic strides the nation has managed to make despite the civil strife or even how it has been able to do so, but ignorance is no substitute for reality. All of this and the "failed state" issue has likewise already been explained in the article and in this earlier section of this talk page. Refer to those for the answers to your "POV". Middayexpress (talk) 04:00, 25 May 2010 (UTC)


In the politics section, there is no mentioning of Somaliland and Puntland. Aldough these "states" shouldn't be mentioned too often to avoid giving undue weight to official recognistion as a state, I believe that we should mention that these are the most stable regions (Somaliland most stable, followed by Puntland). As such, any foreign intervention to get the country back on track should happen from here (aswell as possibly from the Kenian border. According to Daahar Rayaale Kaahin, Somaliland for example, however receives almost no supplemental foreign aid, instead money/projects are directed to the southern part of Somalia, often ending up in a very bad investment, funding Al Shahaab, ... rather than the people (since they steal any supplies coming in). [1]

Both regions are discussed repeatedly throughout the article. The politics section is for a brief re-cap of the current political situation at the federal level; the link-through articles are for the details. Dahir Riyaale, as a former regional chief of the notorious KGB-created National Security Service (NSS), is also hardly an authority on stability. Middayexpress (talk) 12:33, 7 June 2010 (UTC)


Kindly stop adding POV to the Somalia article. The CIA is very clear that Somalia has a healthy informal economy; it says so in the opening sentence of the economy section of the CIA Factbook: "Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications." The CIA also clearly explains that the civil war is happening in the southern parts of the country, not the autonomous northern Puntland and Somaliland regions, which are both actually doing quite well. Even in the south, business is healthy, as firms hire private security outfits for protection. All of this is already explained in the Economy of Somalia article, which for some strange reason you have chosen to ignore. Also note again that piracy (which has its origins in Puntland in the north, where there is not war, not the south) was not caused by the civil war in the south but by waste dumping & overfishing depriving local fishermen of their catches. Refer to the Piracy in Somalia article for the facts on that. Middayexpress (talk) 22:20, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

That may be all true, but i didnt removed those statements. My additions are not related to the informal economy part (which i didnt touched), the are related to the overall comparison of the somali economy to the other countries and here are the rankings clear: Somalia has one of the worst economys of the world and it _has_ a poverty problem. This should be inside. Your stated reasons for the piracy could be also perfectly summed up as "poverty". StoneProphet (talk) 22:33, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
No, the notion that "Somalia has one of the worst economys of the world and it _has_ a poverty problem" is your POV, and yours alone. The CIA source that you were distorting clearly states that, "Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications." And it does this in the relevant Economy section of the paper too. Nor is it the only source asserting this well-known fact, but just one of many. See the Economy of Somalia article for more, including this paper from the Wall Street Journal published just last month (note the reference to Somalia's "robust... private sector"). Again, stop with the POV. Middayexpress (talk) 23:04, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Ok changed it again according to offial UN sources. I also didnt touched your other statements. StoneProphet (talk) 23:55, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Ah, but that's where you messed up again. You see, the UN itself has recently come under fire for meddling in local politics, and for profiteering over the situation in southern Somalia and actually helping prolong and aggravate the conflict (e.g. 1, 2, 3). It is therefore hardly a reliable source on a conflict it itself helped (and is helping) aggravate and prolong. There are many such actors in the civil war, which is why an article such as Propaganda in the War in Somalia even exists. I suggest you give your schadenfreude a rest, and learn to accept facts. Middayexpress (talk) 00:23, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Your first statement was from the same source, so it seems you regarded the UN as a reliable source as long as it fits in your POV. ;) Well your 2007 source doesnt change the fact that the UN _is_ regarded as a reliable source on wikipedia, so i revert it back. Stop your WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT and stop reverting sourced information. Dozens of UN sources + nearly all newspapers on the world (i could add 100s of newspaper articles on the humanitarian situaion in somalia) surly outwight a single 2007 article from a single private academic organization. Your POV of Somalia as a land of milk and honey is also still in the article, as i didnt touched it. I will also overlook your personal attack. StoneProphet (talk) 00:38, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT is not a policy; it's an essay. Only actual policies determine what is or isn't permitted on Wikipedia. WP:QS, WP:NOTADVOCATE and WP:CONFLICT, on the other hand, are all clear on the inadmissibility of sources directly tied to situations they are describing. And like it or not, that most certainly includes the UN. FYI, the UN was actually recently under investigation for this very issue, and found guilty of corruption. Refer to this Newsweek article where the UN itself admits in a leaked report to its negative involvement in the war in Somalia, specifically with regard to corruption by its own personnel and contractors. In case you hadn't noticed, I also replaced the UN source after your explanation with a more reliable, uninvolved one from the renowned Ludwig von Mises Institute. I'm sure you could indeed add hundreds of negative news-pieces from random journalists who cannot on their own conduct surveys of Somalia's economy, as could I in the other direction. However, none of those news articles would have the weight of the CIA, the World Bank, the Independent Institute and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (the latter of which specializes in economics, among other fields) -- authorities that, unlike the UN, are not involved in exacerbating the conflict in southern Somalia. And per WP:VER, "academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources where available." Middayexpress (talk) 02:16, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
I really doubt that this private founded private institute is really a more reliable and neutral source than the United Nations. The CIA Factbook and the he World Bank data are in no conflict with the stated facts, that 1. the majority of the Somalis are poor(the data indeed back this up), 2. Somalia is target of a big humanitarian aid program and 3. there is a piracy problem among the Somalian coast. I also fail to see, how this newsweek article contradict those facts. Even if this article would add something useful it is doubtful that a single online newspaper article without any sources or references is more reliable than offical UN sources. So just stop your wikilaywering and keep it. WP:VER dont fits in here, because your sources dont contradict those facts stated. Do you deny that there is a large scale humanitarian mission in Somalia? Do you deny that a majority of the Somalis are poor, which is also backed up by your sources? Do you deny that half of the world sent warships to battle the pirates at the Somalian coast? Really? Think about it. The UN program may has its flaws, but this dont change the fact that there _is_ a poverty problem, a humanitarian aid program and a piracy problem. StoneProphet (talk) 03:19, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I've already proven the UN is an unreliable authority on the conflict in southern Somalia by a) linking to articles (1, 2) indicating that no less than the UN envoy to Somalia himself has recently been on the receiving end of calls for his resignation due to his disruptive role in the continuing conflict in southern Somalia, including being charged with meddling in local politics, and otherwise advancing foreign agendas; b) by pointing out that it is the UN itself (not me) that admits to its part in exacerbating the war in southern Somalia -- a conflict that it is ironically describing as "unsolvable" or some variation thereof; and c) Citing actual Wikipedia policy that forbids this kind of vested involvement in its sources. The onus is thus not on me but on you to now prove that a) the UN representative to Somalia has not, in fact, come under fire for his disruptive role in the conflict in southern Somalia; b) the UN has not, in fact, admitted itself that its own personnel and contractors are negatively influencing the course of events in southern Somalia; and c) this negative involvement would not qualify as a conflict of interest on the UN's part anyway per Wikipedia's relevant WP:CONFLICT policy. Good luck with all of that.
The piracy phenomenon, moreover, actually takes place in the Indian Ocean, not in Somalia proper, and thus does not belong in the introduction of all places; it is also already discussed further down in the article. The CIA Factbook also does not in the least bit support your claims that Somalia's economy is ailing (as repeatedly demonstrated above), and neither does the World Bank source in question. Like the Ludwig von Mises Institute and Independent Institute, they support the well-established fact that the Somali economy is actually doing quite well. These aren't throwaway one-liners either from random journalists, but in-depth studies from authoritative, unimplicated institutions, exactly what WP:VER makes clear are the most reliable sources. Here's what the Independent Institute study concludes, in reference to Xeer (the Somali customary law that is observed whether or not state institutions are at their optimum), and Somalia's many hawala or money transfer companies:

This paper has explored the consequences of state collapse for a country that existed under the rule of a vampire state. Far from chaos and economic collapse, we find that Somalia is generally doing better than when it had a state. Basic economic order is possible because of the existence of a common law dispute resolution system and a non-state monetary system. On that foundation we find that urban business and commercial activity is possible and that the pastoral sector has expanded. This paper’s main contribution to the literature on Somalia’s living standards has been to compare them to those of 42 other sub-Saharan African countries both before and after the collapse of the national government. We find that Somalia’s living standards have improved generally and that they compare relatively favorably with many existing African states. Importantly, we find that Somali living standards have often improved, not just in absolute terms, but also relative to other African countries since the collapse of the Somali central government.

And here's another from the Foundation for Economic Education:

It is hard to call any country mired in poverty an economic success. Yet by most measures Somalia’s poverty is diminishing and Somalia has improved living standards faster than the average sub-Saharan African country since the early 1990s. In that sense Somalia is at least a relative success story. The most interesting part of Somalia’s success is that it has all been achieved while the country has lacked any effective central government.

Bottom line, stop pushing POV. Middayexpress (talk) 05:15, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Those sources claim that there are some problems with the UN program, those sources dont prove anything, especially not, that the UN is suddenly an unreliable source. Even if the UN would be a unreliable source (which it is not, and which is not proven) this does not negate the 4 facts:
- the Civil war has destabilized the country
- the majority of the Somalis are poor
- there is a large aid program in the country
- the country has a piracy problem
The stated facts in the CIA factbook and world bank also do not contradict those 4 points, they indeed back them up. The economy can do as well as it wants (ranking at the bottom of all economical rankings is btw _not_ "very well"), the country can still have a poverty and a piracy problem. Your new source also dont contradict those facts. You can add the new source ofc in the economy of Somalia section if you want. I btw also really doubt that some private libertarian american economy organizations are very neutral on this topic, as an economy without any governemental regulation would perfectly fit in their world view.StoneProphet (talk) 11:41, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
More strawman arguments I see. Firstly, there are no sources "claiming" that there are some "problems" with the UN program. The UN itself has already admitted to corruption and negatively influencing the course of events in the conflict in southern Somalia; and it did this in an internal investigation it itself conducted.

"A U.N. report released last week paints a damning portrait of the World Food Programme's operations there: an estimated 50 percent of food delivered by the U.N. agency is essentially being stolen—not only by the WFP's own personnel and contractors, but also Somalia's armed militias, some of whom are radical Islamists."

One of the UN's own employees in Somalia has likewise revealed that the UN program in the country is corrupt. And this whistle-blower was fired over this revelation too, as the United Nations Ethics Committee (which is in charge of policing the organization) itself has found in its own investigation:

"The United Nations Ethics Committee has upheld complaints by a former employee of the UN Development Programme who said he suffered retaliation from the UNDP for alleging that its Somalia programme was corrupt."

The CIA Factbook and the World Bank still likewise do not in the least bit support your claims that Somalia's economy is ailing; here again is the CIA's actual conclusion on the state of the economy: "Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications." You can also try all you like to dismiss the Ludwig von Mises Insitute, the Independent Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education as mere "private libertarian american economy organizations", but you still in no way have invalidated their in-depth studies on Somalia's economy and standard of living -- all of which indicate significantly improved standards of living compared to both the pre-civil war period and many other countries in Africa. Unlike the UN, there's no internal investigation or whistle-blowing insider asserting that these institutions' activities in Somalia -- activities that they are reporting on, no less -- are corrupt; for starters, they don't even have any activities in Somalia to report on. It's just you personally claiming that their studies on Somalia are unreliable, not a reliable third party or Wikipedia policies. Middayexpress (talk) 19:46, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
You are just repeating points which are not relevant to the discussion. I really have no nerve for this. Lets just keep it simple: Answer me four questions:

Do you deny that there is poverty in Somalia? Yes or No?
Do you deny that there is a UN Aid programm in Somalia? Yes or no?
Do you deny that there is an ongoing Civil war in Somalia? Yes or no?
Do you you deny that there is piracy among the Somalian coast? Yes or no?

And if you answer those questions with yes, why do you dont want to have those facts in the article? StoneProphet (talk) 19:58, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
If I am repeating myself, that could be because I am responding to someone who keeps bringing up the same long-debunked arguments. The bottom line is 1) the UN sources you have been pushing forth are unreliable, 2) WP:VER is clear that academic sources are the most reliable sources, 3) I have already provided several in-depth academic studies on the economic and overall situation in Somalia from reputable institutions, not just throwaway quotes from random journalists that have never actually researched the country or have any relevant experience in the field, and 4) for reasons known only to you, you have unsuccessfully attempted to invalidate those authoritative references I supplied through mere words (not proof). And that's the state of affairs. It's therefore not me who is refusing to accept facts, but clearly you. Middayexpress (talk) 20:23, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
You did not answer my questions.StoneProphet (talk) 20:48, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
That is just a repeat of what you posted in your post dated 11:41, 27 June 2010. Refer to my post above from 19:46, 27 June 2010 for my reply to that post. Also have a look at these studies: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Middayexpress (talk) 21:24, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Its not a repeat, you just want to avoid the facts you dont like, because you cant deny those 4 facts. Your 6 links have nothing to do with those 4 facts. Its nice that some people say that the economy of Somaloa is functional despite the absence of a state, but how is this relevant to the existence of a UN aid program, or the other 4 points? There is a UN aid program, there is widespread poverty, there is a civil war and there is piracy, but hell, you seem to try everything to keep this out of the article. StoneProphet (talk) 21:48, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Settle down, "Stone". Your post is indeed almost a word-for-word repeat, with pretty much the same arguments raised in bullet form. Those studies I linked you to above do address those issues (not just the economy), and with a lot more nuance and information than I think you care to accept: that is why I linked you to them. There are also a few important issues that I don't think you quite understand, which leads me to suspect that you haven't even read this article. Firstly, Somalia is the subject of this article, not the Somali Civil War. That means the area's entire history is dealt with, not just a few hand-picked events over the past decade and half or so in one section of the country (the south, not in the autonomous Puntland, Somaliland and Galmudug regions i.e. the bulk of Somalia). You, on the other hand, keep insisting on spamming the intro with details already covered further down in the article, and even in the intro. The intro already asserts that Somalia is experiencing civil strife and even links to the Somali Civil War article where all the travails are discussed in detail; it doesn't deny it or avoid it as you keep insinuating. The difference is that it doesn't dwell on it either, which is what I suspect disappoints you. In case you hadn't noticed, there's a pattern to all of the studies I linked you to: like the intro to this article, they also do not deny that Somalia's state institutions, etc. leave a lot to be desired. However, they also tell the other side of the story; namely, what the Somalis have done in the absence of an effective national government that has helped them carry on and actually thrive in many respects. And its precisely this side that you (not me) refuse to acknowledge. You wish to ignore Xeer, the indigenous Somali legal system that has simply replaced civil law wherever the latter isn't up to scratch, or hawala, Somalia's informal banking system, and on and on -- the very things that are responsible for Somalia's economic and social recovery. For whatever reason, you insist on only focusing on one tiny aspect of Somalia's long, storied history, and refuse to see the other side of that same exact issue to boot... even when it has been quoted for you (see my post above from 05:15, 27 June 2010). You need to ask yourself some hard questions as to why that is, not me. Middayexpress (talk) 22:55, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Well i never denied or ignored the achievements of the Somalis, as i never touched those parts, i just wanted to balance the article more. Reading the article one could come to the conclusion that Somalia is as prosperous and stable as Sweden, Canada or Australia, as it seems that this country has absolutly zero problems. Especially if compared with almost all other articles of the other African countries, which draw a more realistic picture of their country. But well i accept it, its meaningless to continue here, my time is better invested in other articles. Good luck still and keep up the good work. StoneProphet (talk) 07:43, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
That is because many African countries suffer from severe systematic bias where their entire articles are cluttered with the most negative information(not necessarily on purpose) possible, nobody here made the claim(or insinuates) that Somalia is as prosperous as Sweden, Canada or Australia that's a strawman argument. The points you are promoting to be honest are exactly the type of systematic bias the other African countries have been flooded with, the majority of the world is poor, why single out this specific country when various sources detail economic recovery and progress?, and the UN aid programme is dwarved twenty times by the remittances of the Somali diaspora($2 billion annualy). Big parts of the article are detailing the civil strife and the piracy issue more than enough, as Midday pointed out this is the Somalia article not the Somali civil war article, nor do 1200 or more armed men hi-jacking ships take precedent over 10 million people - give or take - who are not buccaneers, so potential lazy generalisations should be avoided at all cost. --Scoobycentric (talk) 15:48, 28 June 2010 (UTC)
"why single out this specific country when various sources detail economic recovery and progress?" This country is only singled out in that way that it lacks those informations to give a full picture of the country. Its not systematic bias to delete information which are factual and are admitted by yourself. If there are 2 sides of the coin, there should be 2 sides in the article, not only the positive one. ;) StoneProphet (talk) 07:51, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Failed state

This article has many problems. It reads like a tourist guide and tries to portray the country in the most positive light possible. Any negative material is removed or toned down. Reading it and having no knowledge about the country, you'd think it was Norway or Canada (as noted above). Problems:

  • Cities section. Section that's simply a list of cities, numbers, and pictures. Should be removed. Expansion with words.
  • Health section. "Health" sections don't appear on country article unless it's a major issue in the country (e.g. South Africa) which doesn't appear to be the case here though I may be wrong. This tiny section appears to be gathered from what few positive snippers are available. It says life expectancy has increased but doesn't mention the actual life expectancy (see List of countries by life expectancy) – one of the major indicators of the "health" of a nation. Nor does it talk about infant mortality rates (see List of countries by infant mortality rate) and malnourishment rates (see List of countries by percentage of population suffering from undernourishment). I see that half the section talks about AIDS but that it has one of the lowest rates in Africa. It randomly lists some (four) of the hospitals in the country, but doesn't say anything at all about what the whole health care system is like.
  • Education section. From what I can gather, Puntland and Somaliland have free primary education but Somalia doesn't. No mention of secondary school or, for example, enrolment rates or literacy rates. Second paragraphy only discusses Puntland and includes random information (e.g. the increase in number of teachers in one particular year in one particular area of the country). Fourth paragraphy is waffle from a single and old source. Very incomplete.
  • Politics section. Talks more about how one group is fighting some other group rather than politics.
  • Economy section. The worst section. For some bizarre reason, there's no discussions of general levels of economic development - though this is an "economy" section. Nothing about GDP per capita, development rates, poverty rates, standard of living etc. "Energy" section described in excruciating detail. Reading it you'd think it was one of the richest countries in the world, as opposed to one of the poorer ones.

In short, in a "failed state" ((no) pun intended). Seems to me that Somalia-related articles have been taken over by single-purpose editors like Middayexpress for a long time now and this has led to these articles falling into disarray. Anyone attempting to make neutral changes is forced out due to their sheer tenacity. Christopher Connor (talk) 02:07, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Well information like infant mortality rate, life expectancy, literacy rate, GDP rankings etc. are all easily available, even in the cited CIA factbook, but good luck trying to add this into the article -> that would be "systematic bias". ;D StoneProphet (talk) 08:07, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

The intro appears to be somewhat biased as well. In my opinion the section has too much history and not enough on the current situation, including Somalia's problems. TastyCakes (talk) 22:38, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

For this article to read like a "tourist guide" (interesting choice of words there), it would first need to get rid of its repeated allusions to the recent Somali Civil War -- a conflict which actually only persists in a minority of the country (the south). No such "tourist guide" worth its salt would contain such information.
  • Actually, the Cities section is an enumeration of the most populous cities in the country, with attendant images of those cities, not "simply a list of cities, numbers, and pictures".
  • Health sections appear on many articles, but they are not obligatory. The health care system is already discussed to some degree on the Transitional Federal Government article, and the section in this article could perhaps be improved upon. However, I suspect that the actual statistics on the matter won't be to your liking.
  • Puntland and Somaliland are legally autonomous parts of Somalia, not mutually exclusive areas. The Education section focuses on Puntland due to a dearth of up-to-date and detailed information from the other areas in Somalia (including literacy rates; the CIA's national estimate is from almost ten years ago). Secondary schools are discussed in the second paragraph of the section as well as in detail in the Education in Somalia main article, as are the other tiers in the educational system. The second paragraph also does not discuss "random information", but data from the Puntland educational board relating to the number of schools, classes and teachers, as well as total student enrollment, gender distribution, and the distribution of scholastic institutions and attendance rates according to geography. The last paragraph also discusses the structure and function of Qur'anic schools in Somalia, conservative institutions which have provided basic religious instruction for centuries and are thus not subject to obsolescence. The only thing "old" about that paragraph is arguably the assertion that the Somali government on its own part subsequently established the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs, under which Qur'anic education is now regulated -- a fact which still persists.
  • The Politics section does discuss actual politics, not "one group fighting another". It explains the political structure in Somalia (the Transitional Federal Government, Transitional Federal Institutions, Transitional Federal Charter, etc.), as well as the Transitional Federal Government's campaign to seize control of areas in southern Somalia administered by Islamist groups. The complementary Law section below it likewise discusses the nation's legal structure. The link-throughs to the main articles are for the details.
  • You say "there's no discussions of general levels of economic development". Actually, that's pretty much what the entire Economy section is devoted to. The telecommunications, the energy, the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, etc. are all discussed here because that is what is most immediately relevant. GDP per capita, poverty rates (the latter of which, btw, the CIA indicates is N/A), etc are details that the CIA factbook relegates to a table in the relevant Economy section of its paper and which are already included in the detailed Economy of Somalia main article. As the CIA itself explains, it bases its economic section on the following factors:

Economy - overview: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.

Lastly, WP:SPA is an essay, not a policy. It also makes it clear that editing in a niche area is not a crime, but rather encouraged. I edit Somali-related articles by preference because that is an area I am actually knowledgeable in, as is my prerogative. One can find such editors throughout Wikipedia who choose to focus on one area of expertise, including administrators (and in this particular niche too). Attempting to cast aspersions on my edits as if you are privy to all of them (see WP:WIKIHOUNDING for more on that) won't get you anywhere, let alone intimidate me. For the rest, consult WP:NPA and WP:CIV and internalize their lessons. Middayexpress (talk) 00:28, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
The current health statistics of 2009 are in the CIA factbook. So add them, otherwise this passage has no purpose. StoneProphet (talk) 08:04, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

I think we can all agree that the article could be improved with the addition of more data, in health as StoneProphet has pointed out, in economics as comparisons to other countries, in politics in that the elephants in the room are ignored (it isn't pointed out that it has been without an effective central government for many years) and so on. Oh and I think "environment" is an odd section - much of it could be merged with the geography and climate section and a lot of it doesn't seem important enough to be mentioned in a country level article. I think there are some very good sections in the article (much of the history stuff) thanks in large part I'm sure to Middayexpress, but I think it's quite clear that other parts have some issues. TastyCakes (talk) 16:02, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Comparisons to the economies of other countries in Africa (the only realistic type of comparisons that can be made in this case) are already cited in the article, and they're sourced as well to in-depth studies. The health section could perhaps be expanded with a few figures from the CIA factbook (total fertility rate, etc.). However, those figures on their own don't explain the reasons behind the numbers whereas other in-depth studies do (e.g.); these latter studies also show how those numbers have changed over the years. The figures from the CIA factbook, incidentally, are generally an improvement over those same numbers. Moreover, the Demographics of Somalia main article already features that entire CIA factbook statistics table. The notion that Somalia has been without an effective central government for many years is also already implied when it is explained in the Politics section that the incumbent Transitional Federal Government is "the most recent attempt to restore national institutions to Somalia after the 1991 collapse of the Siad Barre regime and the ensuing Somali Civil War." There is also nothing "odd" about the Environment section nor is that an adequate justification for removal. Somalia's are indeed notable. Middayexpress (talk) 21:33, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
Look I'm trying to be constructive here, please don't dig in your heels and just disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I'm not attacking your contributions, I'm just pointing out things that I think could improve. Ok, the GDP is estimated to be $5.7 billion in 2009. What is that per capita? Where does that rank compared to the rest of the continent? The rest of the world? Without a point of reference, these numbers are not particularly useful.
In politics, I don't see why this basic fact (and one that makes Somalia notable in many eyes) is not spelled out clearly (in the intro, I would think). I think Somalia is unique in this fact, and it is quite odd that it isn't mentioned directly anywhere.
In the environment section: do you know any other country article with a similar section? Any other country article that refers to individual environmentalist's (apparently unverified) anti-deforestation campaigns? Take a look at Brazil for example. Compared to a high traffic, well formatted article like that (or United States, or France or even Kenya) this article gives undue weight to various topics, including but not limited to Somalia's environmentalists. You wouldn't find 5 paragraphs on telecommunications in any other country article, for example. All of this is interesting, notable material - but it is suitable for sub pages, not this page.
Oh, and again, the intro has too much history and not enough current day situation in it. TastyCakes (talk) 22:11, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
If I were disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing as you suggest, then I wouldn't have even bothered giving you any reasons for objecting to your proposals; a simple "no" would've sufficed. But that unfortunately is not the case. The fact is, the CIA doesn't offer a comparison of Somalia's GDP to that of other nation's in Africa; it only does so with regard to the rest of the world, which is not particularly realistic. It also does so in its table of statistics, which is already cited on the Economy of Somalia main article, and not in the relevant Economy overview section (see my quote above for what the CIA itself believes are the most immediately relevant economic factors). The Telecommunications section, moreover, is highlighted for the simple fact that Somalia has among the best such services in the world (and certainly in Africa). Secondly, while Somalia didn't always have a central government in the past after the collapse of the Siad Barre regime and the ensuing civil war, it does now, albeit a weak one. Weak governments are found throughout the world, not just in Somalia -- hardly unique. What is unique is the three different legal systems that co-exist in the country (civil law, religious law, and customary law), and this is already explained in the Law section. The fact that the Brazil article doesn't contain an environment section does not in itself mean that such sections are not notable. What does are Wikipedia's rules, and no such rules indicate that a country's own environmental organizations and concerns, the ecological treaties that it is a party to, as well as its prominent environmentalists are not notable. Lastly, the intro is a reflection of the fact that this is the Somalia article and not the Somali Civil War article. Hence, all of the region's thousands of years of history form the core the intro, as opposed to a decade and a half or so of conflict in one particular area of the country (the south; there's no war in Puntland, Somaliland or Galmudug i.e. most of Somalia). Middayexpress (talk) 23:08, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
You don't need the CIA to compare the two, GDP data is available for every country in the world. Nor is the CIA the only source we should use on this topic. My point regarding the environment wasn't that Brazil didn't have an environmental section, it's that no country does, despite the environment being a much more notable subject in other countries (like Brazil). My point regarding telecommunications is that 5 paragraphs in a country article is inappropriate for any industry in any country, regardless of your opinion that Somali telephone service is the best in the world (a statement I find very dubious). As for the government, that's all fine, but Somalia's recent anarchy should be mentioned in the politics section. In my opinion, the fact that it is ranked as the most corrupt country in the world should also be mentioned here.
You seem quite set in your views on what the article should be. You also seem quite set on what you think is most important about the country and hence focused on in the article, which I still disagree with. I'm going to request a good article review of this: maybe I am being too rough on the article or maybe you're being too easy on it, or maybe it's a combination of the two. Lets see what others think. TastyCakes (talk) 14:49, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
There are several strawman arguments and otherwise inaccurate statements you've made that need correcting. Firstly, I didn't say that the CIA is needed to compare the two. I said that the CIA doesn't offer a comparison of Somalia's GDP to that of other nation's in Africa; it only does so with regard to the rest of the world, which is not particularly realistic. That said, we could of course compare the country's GDP to that of other countries in Africa. However, doing so would obviously require actually hand-picking other countries in Africa to compare it to, and that is where we enter into synthesis territory wherein we join together sources to advance an argument the sources themselves never make (i.e. that Somalia has a lower GDP than African country X, for example). Secondly, many other country articles on Wikipedia have not only environment sections (e.g. 1, 2), but also entire main articles devoted to the subject (e.g. 1, 2). As I've pointed out before, there are also no Wikipedia rules forbidding such a section. Thirdly, it is not my "opinion" that Somali telephone service is the best in the world; that is a statement I never made. I didn't even mention "telephone service" (which, by the way, only represents one part of telecommunications). As can clearly be seen above, what I did actually say is that "the Telecommunications section, moreover, is highlighted for the simple fact that Somalia has among the best such services in the world (and certainly in Africa)" -- which is fact, not opinion (1, 2, 3). If Somalia didn't have among the best Telecommunications systems in the world and in Africa, then perhaps I would agree with your argument that such a section does not deserve to be highlighted. Fourthly, what you describe as Somalia's "anarchy" is indeed already discussed in the article and repeatedly (e.g. 1), including the Politics section; main articles discussing the details of the conflict are also linked to. This is despite the fact that the conflict in question is actually confined to only section of the country; namely, the south -- not the relatively stable autonomous Puntland, Somaliland and Galmudug regions i.e. the bulk of Somalia. The former is the part of the country the corruption index applies to. Incidentally, that index was heavily influenced by a recent widely-publicized UN Monitoring Group paper, one of several such papers (e.g. 1) that were prepared under the aegis of an individual with a personal stake in the conflict (1, 2) and that have negatively influenced reporting on the country. This latter paper was also based on dubious sources, anecdotal evidence and rumors, not hard facts, as has been exposed elsewhere (1). In other words, it is only one of the many recent examples of disinformation employed in the Propaganda in the War in Somalia, and thus, is highly misleading. Middayexpress (talk) 22:02, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't want to fight you over this, I'll just wait for someone to come and look at the article and judge for themselves. But you seem to be misunderstanding my basic premise: I'm not saying this stuff doesn't belong on Wikipedia. I'm saying it should not fall under the scope of a country level article. But to respond to your points: we wouldn't have to pick and choose countries to compare it to, we could take an average of Africa as a whole, or of East Africa, or of something to give some context to the numbers. There are other comparisons to be made: aid and/or remittances per capita ranked as a percentage of GDP and so on. Regarding the environment: those country articles have environmental sections because there is something notable about their environmental situation. I don't think that in the context of the entire country, one woman's battle to save the trees is similarly notable. Also note that, despite the environment being much more noted issue in those two countries, their environmental sections are significantly shorter than this article's. Once again, I'm not arguing this material should be removed from Wikipedia: I'm saying a lot of it is way to in depth for a high level overview that an article like this is meant to provide. If you want to start an Environment of Somalia, Communications in Somalia and/or Economy of Somalia I would absolutely be all for that, but it's just too much information for a country article.
Regarding corruption, I won't say anything other than "Mudug Online" and its author, Faizal Mohamud reachable at, doesn't seem a particularly reliable source, while Transparency International, and International Crisis Group, whose report Mohamud is disputing, do. I'm not saying those reports are above criticism, but I am saying that Faizal Mohamud is not in a reliable enough position to be the one doing so. I'm sorry, but I think your argument that Somalia is not a corrupt place except for the south is simply untrue, or at the very least undemonstrated. TastyCakes (talk) 22:56, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I have no desire to fight with you either (nor would I characterize this talk page discussion as such). However, that still does not change the fact that comparing the GDP of Somalia to other countries in Africa when the sources themselves don't is synthesis i.e. joining sources in such a way as to advance an argument that the sources themselves don't make. The Somali GDP per capita on that page you linked me to also dates from 2005, and is a fraction of that reported by the CIA for this year. Furthermore, the Environment section on this article is not any more in-depth than the one found on the Denmark article, for example, although Somalia's environment is a major regional concern since it has been affected by years of toxic waste dumping and predatory fishing by foreign vessels. Moreover, Transparency International's corruption index is plagued by numerous technical errors in its statistical algorithm that significantly biases its results. It also includes data that is up to two years old in its CPI, and even admits that it may be inaccurate:

"Transparency International itself admits that there are problems with year-to-year comparisons of values of the Corruption Perceptions Index, and that changes in the sample and methodology may be the cause of changes in a country’s score... Since the sources used in the CPI changes almost yearly, changes in the value of the CPI may result not from a change in the level of corruption, but from changes due to the fact that each source uses a different methodology."

Even more alarmingly, it itself is not a primary source on the countries in its index, but rather relies on a small group of so-called regional "experts" to arrive at its conclusions:

"The CPI relies heavily on “expert assessments” of corruption, representing the views of a small number of people.16 For the most part, these expert assessments are carried out by expatriates of the countries involved. The longer these expatriates are living outside their country of origin, the less likely they are to have an accurate understanding of the current situation in the country. Absolute objectivity is difficult to achieve, and most people naturally will be biased toward either a government or its opposition. To the extent that the expatriates making the assessments of corruption are members of particular economic or social groups, expert assessments of corruption may be biased."

One such influential "expert assessment" comes from the International Crisis Group's Coordinator of the Monitoring Group -- it's not the ICG that's unreliable, but the very person at the organization who oversees everything Somalia-related, including the papers in question. It's this gentleman who is behind the ICG papers that have leveled these unfounded corruption charges (as the links I've already cited clearly explain). That is why the Somali government itself personally issued a press release not too long ago objecting to his appointment to the position, indicating -- among others (1, 2) -- that the papers this gentleman "has published, interviews he has given and academic articles he published demonstrates his unfairly opposition towards the Somali Government and its allies in the region" and that he has a "history of actively supporting disintegration of Somalia, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the African Union and all Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 1811 (2008) that re-established the Monitoring Group." That obviously fails WP:NOTADVOCATE, WP:QS, and especially WP:CONFLICT, and is indeed very much a prime example of Propaganda in the War in Somalia. Middayexpress (talk) 00:50, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm quite schocked by this continues biased view that is being projected towards this country such as it looks like Canada, which is as absurd as reading an article on Nigeria's military and then claim it looks like the military of the US because the Nigerians operate tanks, and since when does a detail energy section equal 'richest country in the world'?, i suppose the American geologists that highlighted the resource Juggernaut lying asleep in the soil of Afghanistan were just representatives of Forbes?
A cities section isn't exclusive to 'western countries', indeed many articles from various parts of the world have this feature, therefore a blunt should be removed because it's only numbers and pictures, makes it hard for me to take such a proposal serious especially when this same person directs a personal attack against a longtime editor who has helped to vastly improve the overall article i.e Middayexpress because they once clashed on a different article, this is no place for personal vendettas. --Scoobycentric (talk) 16:57, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
The problem with the energy section as I see it is that it goes far too much into depth over one oil exploration deal (no oil has been produced by the country) and doesn't answer the basic questions about energy in Somalia: where does electricity come from? Is there some sort of utility grid or is all the electricity from generators? Where do Somali oil imports come from, and how much do they import? I don't know the answers to any of these questions and so can't improve this, but the fact that the section begins with "some people think there might be lots of oil there" rather than solid facts about the energy situation seems like a weakness. Don't get me wrong, I think potential oil resources should be mentioned, but I don't think it should be the first, or main, thing discussed in the section.
On a wider note, I hope we can all settle down a little... I think we all want to see an improved article, although we may disagree on how to get there. It seems this has all gotten quite personal, which is a shame because I think there is a lot of non-controversial improvement that can still be made to this article. In my opinion, there is undue weight on several of the subjects, and I understand nobody likes to see their material removed. But hopefully we can agree that by moving some of that material to properly linked sub-articles and adding some more facts to this one, we can make this a better, tighter article that is more useful to readers. TastyCakes (talk) 22:34, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Health section

Middayexpress please tell me why you add a statement like "Somalia was one of only three countries in Africa to increase its life expectancy by five years." but later delete a statement about the _real_ life expectancy in the country? Adding this information is really no controversial edit, and you have no right to delete or revert it. Its _not_ your article. StoneProphet (talk) 00:17, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

"Stone": In case you forgot, you are on an editing probation. The administrator made it clear on your talk page that you must first obtain consensus before making any controversial changes; he even emphasized the word first. But you have not even attempted to do so. You say that your edits are "uncontroversial", but that is debatable. This continued uncooperative behavior is the problem and what is unacceptable. Middayexpress (talk) 00:55, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
1. Those edits are clearly uncontroversial. 2. You got the same restriction. 3. You admitted by yourself that the health section need some work 4. We are talking about 2 sentences and even here you are going to start a battle. But great you expanded the health section, including those facts i added before and you reverted afterwards, only adding the typical "has improved" etc. to make the worse data sounding better. By the way you did not seek consenus by yourself, so i can revert those edits now like you did, but my name is not Middayexpress so i wont do this. ;) StoneProphet (talk) 01:20, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I admitted that the Health section needed work, but I never endorsed your edits or described them as "uncontroversial"; you did. It also doesn't change what the administrator told you on your talk page. At any rate, I'm glad to see you at least had the sense to remove my name from that attack heading you drafted earlier. Middayexpress (talk) 01:40, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
You are not the one who defines what is controversial and what not. Since when are death rates in the health section of a country wiki-article controversial? You rejected none of the proposals so i added it, and at least it seems you are agreeing to it, as you readded those factes only 30 mins after you reverted them. Well i am anyway out now, have fun with your article. StoneProphet (talk) 14:34, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Population data way off, and do not correspond with respective articles

To discuss, go to the discussion on the template page: Template:Cities_of_Somalia —Preceding unsigned comment added by NittyG (talkcontribs) 06:23, 6 July 2010 (UTC)


The population data in the "Cities" section is way, way, way off. Mogadishu was never more than 1.5 million at its height, and has been seriously depopulated. Garowe(according to UN Habitat estimates), has about 35,000-4,000. There are many other errors as well; these figures are a product of the tendency of Somalis to overestimate the size of their populations, in order to make their specific clan appear larger and more powerful than it is. Jrule (talk) 18:11, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

To support Jrule, I noticed that the population data was way off from the urbanization estimates. Using the first 5 cities alone, given the numbers that are in the article, you get an urban population of ~5 million, more than 50% of the population. The article should recognize these inconsistencies rather than making false assertions about population data. David.aloha (talk) 10:14, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

The city estimates are clearly fabricated. Something has to be done as it greatly affects the accuracy of this page.

Mazi99 (talk) 08:28, 19 September 2010 (UTC)


The source cited says that worldwide piracy dipped 18% so the article shouldn't mislead the reader into thinking that is the statistic for attacks off the coast of Somalia:

Pirate attacks worldwide fell 18 per cent in the first half of 2010 from a year ago, as patrols by several navies in the Gulf of Aden curtailed raids, an international maritime watchdog said on Thursday.

The source also doesn't refer to the efforts of the Puntland authorities, but only to the actions of the naval vessels of the international community:

The actions of the navies in the Gulf of Aden have been instrumental in bringing down the attacks there. The Indian Ocean poses a different challenge, warned the bureau's director, Capt. Pottengal Mukundan. An international flotilla, including US and European warships, has been deployed to the Gulf of Aden and prevented many hijackings, most which were opportunistic in nature with some pirates paid multi-million-dollar ransoms.

I therefore don't think the sentence can include the reference to activities of the authorities on land without finding a source that attributes the 'decline' in piracy to the combined efforts, which seems logical. I propose leaving in the reference to the activities on land on the assumption that such a source should be available. Corlyon (talk) 00:54, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, the cited source speaks of pirate attacks worldwide having fallen; however, most of those occurred in the Gulf of Aden. This is why that same source attributes the global decline specifically to patrols by "several navies in the Gulf of Aden" and indicates that "attacks dropped to 33 in the Gulf of Aden from 86 a year ago". It's the other source that cites Puntland. Middayexpress (talk) 04:25, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Flag colour

In the CIA World Factbook the colour of the blue in flag is much lighter. Should the flag be changed? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:39, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

The blue in the flag is sometimes depicted as light, but more frequently as a standard blue ([4]). Whatever the shade though, the key part is the combination of a blue background, which represents the sky and the Indian Ocean (although it is believed to have originally been influenced by the flag of the UN [5]); and a white five-pointed star, the so-called "Star of Unity" representing the five areas in the Horn of Africa traditionally inhabited by ethnic Somalis i.e. Greater Somalia. Middayexpress (talk) 21:16, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Article seems to have a overly positive slant...

I might be the only one who thinks this article reads like a tourist guide (oh, there are half-a-dozen other editors who think the same thing?!) but could someone (Midday Express) please explain how: the United Nations, Fund for Peace, Transparency International, The New York Times, Associated Press, US State Department, et al. are unreliable sources and obscure articles from sources I've never heard of are authoritative. I earlier saw Midday Express calling another user 'paranoid'; it would seem to me that someone looking for corrupt sources of information and starting with: The United Nations, Transparency International, etc. might have some paranoia issues themselves...

I'm afraid you are a little late. The article has been completely re-written since those discussions you allude to, so they don't really apply. I also suggest you have a look at the civil war section in particular for reference. Middayexpress (talk) 18:33, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
The last paragraph of the lead made me laugh. "While it still has room for improvement, the interim government continues to reach out to both Somali and international stakeholders to help grow the administrative capacity of the Transitional Federal Institutions and to work toward eventual national elections in 2011." If this was about a business instead of a government, it would be removed in an instant as an advertisement. The statements like this in the lead are way overly positive. "despite experiencing civil unrest, Somalia has also maintained a healthy informal economy..." How nice. No mention that the "healthy" economy is rated 150 out of 191 in the world? No mention of the 15 year period of anarchy the country went through? Ridiculous. SwarmTalk 06:05, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
Not really, since, during that period of no central governing authority, Somalia's inhabitants had actually reverted to local methods of conflict resolution, primarily consisting of customary law. While the size of the GDP is indeed ranked 155th in the world, that is not really an indication of the health of the economy since not all countries are the same size and have the same size populations. The GDP was also a fraction of that size as recently as 1987, just prior to the civil war; it's been steadily increasing since then, except for a brief dip in 2008 on account of renewed fighting in the south ([6]). It's the GDP's growth rate that matters, and Somalia's GDP in 2009 had an estimated real growth rate (that is, after being adjusted for inflation) of 2.6% (71st in the world). Modest, to be sure, but healthy all the same, which is partly why the CIA indicates that "despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications" ([7]). It's the CIA itself that also indicates that "while its institutions remain weak, the TFG continues to reach out to Somali stakeholders and to work with international donors to help build the governance capacity of the TFIs and to work toward national elections in 2011." Middayexpress (talk) 07:46, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
The tone of the article is positive. That's the point. SwarmTalk 18:31, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
It's a reflection of the paraphrased CIA et al.'s own language. Middayexpress (talk) 19:07, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
The CIA doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of WP:NPOV. SwarmTalk 22:43, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
What exactly is that supposed to mean? And which part of that policy indicates this? Middayexpress (talk) 20:21, 19 August 2010 (UTC)
It means that NPOV is a rule on Wikipedia, and the CIA don't have to follow it. SwrmTalk 03:04, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
It's a riddle, but doesn't mean much since the CIA is a reliable source. Middayexpress (talk) 23:24, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree that this acticle is way to positive. Maybe it should mention that Somolia has ranked number 1 on the failed state index for three years in a row. Mike 00:12, 6 October 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
There's nothing positive about a civil war and its attendant consequences, all of which are discussed. "Failed state" is also an arbitrary, politically-based concept ([8]); hence, why the index is not featured on just about all other country articles on Wikipedia, including this one. Middayexpress (talk) 18:09, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

"While it still has room for improvement, the interim government continues to reach out to both Somali and international stakeholders to help grow the administrative capacity of the Transitional Federal Institutions and to work toward eventual national elections in 2011." This seems to be an unduly positive assessment of the TFG. "...still has room for improvement..."-- I couldn't help laughing out loud when I read that. Considering that many view the TFG to be nothing more than a venal collection of ex-warlords, I'm not sure Wikipedia should be evincing such a favourable stance on it. Jrule (talk) 14:27, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Actually, the current TFG is a coalition government. Its federal assembly was enlarged in January 2009 following an agreement reached in Djibouti that was set up by, among others, the former UN envoy to Somalia [9]. The purpose of the agreement was to strike a truce with the Islamist Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) that was then looking to topple the government from its unofficial headquarters in Eritrea; specifically, the cessation of armed confrontation in exchange for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops. Parliament was subsequently expanded to accommodate ARS members, which then elected the current President to office (the former ARS chairman). The government has tried several times to strike similar peace deals with the remaining Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam militants, but so far to no avail. It has therefore now opted for what appears to be primarily a military solution, although the newly-appointed Prime Minister hasn't ruled out negotiations altogether. That phrase was also taken from the CIA itself, btw [10]: "while its institutions remain weak, the TFG continues to reach out to Somali stakeholders and to work with international donors to help build the governance capacity of the TFIs and to work toward national elections in 2011." Middayexpress (talk) 17:43, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
As pointed out above, the CIA is not a neutral source of information. It reflects the position of the US government, which is to support the TFG politically and diplomatically. Wikipedia should not be taking the same stance. Jrule (talk) 19:44, 11 November 2010 (UTC)
Actually, the entire international community supports the TFG; only the Islamists don't. As for the CIA, it was already identified as a reliable source by an ArbCom administrator on RS/N well after the discussion above took place. Middayexpress (talk) 19:58, 11 November 2010 (UTC)
Let me clarify-- obviously, the CIA would be a reliable source for certain facts and figures. Its opinion on the effectiveness of a government, however, should not be cited as gospel truth in an encyclopaedia. Would you accept the CIA's official position on the legality of its torture methods in the article on Guantanamo Bay?
Also, whether the "entire international community" supports the TFG is irrelevant. It is not the role of Wikipedia to "support" anything, but to provide an unbiased perspective. Jrule (talk) 19:43, 21 November 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it is relevant because your argument above was that the CIA is unreliable since the US government supports the TFG. My response to that was logically to point out that, in fact, the entire international community supports the TFG; only the Islamists themselves don't, so that's not much of an argument to begin with. Likewise, it makes no difference whether or not you personally believe what the CIA has asserted. It was identified as a reliable source (and not just for certain facts and figures) by someone who ought to know: an ArbCom administrator. That's pretty much where the story ends. Middayexpress (talk) 20:19, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

Recent edits

Somalia has topped the failed states index 3 years in a row and has been in the top 5 at least back to 2006. This is a notable and sourced fact. Failure to mention this is flagrant POV violation by omission. If the editors of this page do not agree at least on that, a request for comment will be necessary. As previous mentioned, the positive spin of lede borders on "campaign pitch" and also needs to be addressed.--Louiedog (talk) 18:54, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

The article has already received a thorough peer review; concrete suggestions, including from two administrators that regularly monitor the Horn of Africa-related articles, were provided therein and subsequently implemented. "Failed state", moreover, is an arbitrary, politically-based concept ([11]). This is why the index is actually not featured on just about all other country articles on Wikipedia, including this one. The passage that was removed alluding to the fact that the TFG is also reaching out to both local and international stakeholders is fact and was taken from the CIA. Lastly, Somalia just received a new government late last month after the appointment of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the new Prime Minister. The cabinet that the new Premier in turn named is mostly made up of technocrats like himself, and has actually been widely praised by the international community ([12]). Middayexpress (talk) 19:37, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
There's almost nothing in the aforementioned peer view except MoS suggestions, so the peer review in and of itself is certification of nothing, not to mention that the peer review is from a much earlier version of the article than the present with all sorts of significant changes to the lede.
Your link to is curious, as essentially an NYU professor's blog. It isn't a reliable source, nor are the suggestions expressed on it binding on wikipedia policy. Even ignoring this, the reasons expressed aren't particularly convincing for our context here - essentially that "failed state" is a counterproductive label because of the consequences. The fact remains that "failed state" has garnered a WP entry and the blog you curiously site, does not and that issues of the state not having a monopoly on violent force remain.
If you want to say that Mohemad's widely praised arrival has been suggested to be expected to/or has already turned things around, then that is to be included alongside statements of the fact that it needed to be turned around. Simply electing to omit a fact because another fact seems to render it less important represents both an imposed POV, censoring, and OR. The proper decision is to give the reader full context (that Somalia finished poorly in CSI, but that Mohemad is believed [cite] to have made great strides.) and let the reader decide for himself. If Somalia is going to stop leading the CSI in 2011, let the reader infer it rather than omitting the country's history altogether.--Louiedog (talk) 22:32, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Louiedog is right on all counts; this article's POV problem comes form omission of virtually all negative content rather than the inclusion of biased content. The lead doesn't even mention that Somalia is a failed state![13][14][15] Everyone knows this fact, and it's still omitted from the article! An RFC may indeed be necessary. Swarm X 22:44, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Loodog: I did not say that the peer review was a certification of anything. I clearly stated that "the article has already received a thorough peer review; concrete suggestions, including from two administrators that regularly monitor the Horn of Africa-related articles, were provided therein and subsequently implemented." That's why the article is different now in the first place. According to the POV template, "this template should only be applied to articles that are reasonably believed to lack a neutral point of view. The neutral point of view is determined by the prevalence of a perspective in high-quality reliable sources, not by its prevalence among Wikipedia editors." As already pointed out above, an ArbCom admin already indicated that the CIA and its assertions that you removed are indeed reliable. Another admin (Gyrofrog) who regularly monitors this and other Horn of Africa-related pages likewise asserted that the article is actually better now than it was in the past and that he did not detect the POV that once existed. Further, that link is not just to an article by some random professor, but research from a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI) [16]. It explains the genesis of the failed state concept and its many shortcomings. You suggest that the failed state index is important, but seem to be unaware that it is not featured on just about all other Wikipedia country articles for the very reasons enumerated in that article by the DRI. The one thing that DRI article forgot to mention is that the Fund For Peace (which publishes the index) has been, in the words of the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton, "long one of the most openly pro-communist outfits in the country" [17]. That also makes it a non-neutral source. Contrary to what the other account has claimed, the article also most certainly does not omit negative content; the Transparency Index and Somalia's place in it, corruption allegations, and the civil war and its many attendant consequences are all already discussed. However, they are not dwelled upon because Somalia is a region with thousands of years of rich history. The current civil war -- which is finally drawing to a close, by the way [18]; the Islamist insurgents are steadily losing ground and falling apart after their failed so-called 'Ramadan Offensive' ([19], [20]) and African Union troops reaching full strength -- is just a tiny part of that history. And that civil war is only raging in the southern part of the country; the autonomous Puntland, Somaliland and Galmudug regions in northern Somalia (i.e. the bulk of the country) are actually quite stable and have been for years. There are also reports coming out now that Jubaland in the south is forming its own autonomous administration with the help of Kenya. Lastly, the allegations of corruption and ineptitude pertained to the previous bloated government, before the new Premier's appointment and his selection of a much leaner Cabinet made up of mostly technocrats like himself that are new to the Somali political arena. As already pointed out, the international community is actually quite confident in this new government and fully support it. It is just worried that it might not meet the August 11 deadline, when the transitional government's mandate expires and a new constitution that ushers in national elections for the first time in 40 years comes into effect. Middayexpress (talk) 04:57, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Just a note, I posted multiple reliable sources referring to Somalia as a failed state in my last comment. The article doesn't even mention the term "failed". This is a serious omission. Swarm X 07:55, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
While I have no doubt that the inclusion of the reductive term "failed" is something you would not object to, that still doesn't change the fact that the "failed state" concept is a dubious, politically-motivated concept ([21]) or that all newspaper assertions of Somalia being a "failed state" ultimately originate with the Fund For Peace's index. And the Fund For Peace is of course still very much an advocacy group ([22]), which, per both WP:QS and WP:NOTADVOCATE, makes it an unreliable source. Middayexpress (talk) 21:13, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
That all sounds very interesting information to be included alongside statements describing the hitherto problems of governance. If your goal is to correct readers' misperceptions, you do better by acknowledging what they are first and then mentioning factors that negate it.
Also, since we're still disputing POV here, please do not remove the tag. I and other editors do reasonably believe that POV issues exist due to sourcing issues. To peremptorily remove it is dismissive and does not aid consensus.
To resolve this, I've filed an RfC.--Louiedog (talk) 14:54, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
As already quite clearly explained, the problems of governance affecting Somalia's coalition government that you have pushed to include were already featured in the article to begin with. So were the coalition government's various attempts to address these issues, not to mention the fact that there is now a new government in place that the international community is actually quite confident in. As for the POV tag, I removed it because it did not meet the criteria outlined on the relevant POV template page (and thus constitutes abuse of tags). Namely, that "this template should only be applied to articles that are reasonably believed to lack a neutral point of view. The neutral point of view is determined by the prevalence of a perspective in high-quality reliable sources, not by its prevalence among Wikipedia editors." You again seem to believe that your opinion or those expressed by other accounts determine whether or not this particular tag is relevant, when the template itself clearly indicates that only reliable sources are. And as already pointed out, the CIA's assertion regarding the Somali federal government was already determined to be a reliable source. The Fund for Peace, by contrast, is an advocacy group, which by definition is not allowed on Wikipedia. Middayexpress (talk) 21:13, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
Bearing in mind the NOTADVOCATE issue, we should be able to mention the listing of Somalia on this page so long as the source is listed, as per the line "Of course, an article can report objectively about such things, as long as an attempt is made to describe the topic from a neutral point of view." in the NOTADVOCATE statement. I'd also note that AidWatch, whose article you mention as a foil to the listings, is another advocacy group; perhaps when the entry is noted, the listing could be described as controversial, with a link to the AidWatch site. The list itself is very well known, and is mentioned not only within Foreign Policy, but other well-respected publications such as the Economist. Deliberately ignoring this coverage strikes me as a fine example of the lack of NPOV in this article. Random name (talk) 16:24, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
The article I linked to is not advocacy, but research from a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). WP:NOTADVOCATE is also clear that content hosted on Wikipedia is not for "advocacy, propaganda, or recruitment of any kind: commercial, political, religious, sports-related, or otherwise." The line that "an article can report objectively about such things, as long as an attempt is made to describe the topic from a neutral point of view" is subordinate to that, and refers to the index or Foreign Policy articles themselves. This is why WP:QS also states that questionable sources "include websites and publications expressing views that are widely acknowledged as extremist, or promotional" and that such sources are therefore "generally unsuitable for citing contentious claims about third parties" and "should be used only as sources of material on themselves, especially in articles about themselves". The fact remains that the "failed state" concept is a dubious, politically-motivated concept ([23]) and that all newspaper assertions of Somalia being a "failed state" ultimately originate with the Fund For Peace's index. And the Fund For Peace is of course still very much an advocacy group ([24]), which by definition is not allowed on Wikipedia. Middayexpress (talk) 20:09, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
This is an absurdly biased article. I'd go as far to call it propaganda. The entire first paragraph is simply filled with POV opinions. All the negative aspects of Somalia - namely, that it is a fragmented, mostly-lawless country consumed by violence - are omitted. By omission, the opening paragraph implies that Somalia is a good, stable country, as opposed to one that has been topping the Failed State Index for years. A journalist who has travelled to post-war Iraq and Afghanistan has said that Somalia is the scariest country he has ever visited, and yet this slanted article portrays it as not only being a good country to live in, but even better than its far more stable neighbours. This whole article exists only to support a Libertarian propaganda point. (talk) 12:42, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Actually, the article does not state anywhere that Somalia is more stable than its neighbors. It asserts that much of the country -- the autonomous Puntland, Somaliland and Galmudug regions, where there is no war and hasn't been for years -- has made great strides in terms of reconstruction, while the civil war is mainly confined to the south; though even there, the conflict is finally drawing to a close ([25]). Somalia's legal stratification is also discussed in some detail in the Law section and the civil war and its many attendant consequences are likewise addressed in the civil war section; neither are omitted. As already explained above, the failed state concept is not discussed on just about all other Wikipedia articles; this page is no exception. And the reason for that is because the "failed state" concept is a dubious, politically-motivated concept ([26]), all newspaper assertions of Somalia being a "failed state" ultimately originate with the Fund For Peace's index, and the Fund For Peace is of course still very much an advocacy group ([27]), which by definition is not allowed on Wikipedia. Middayexpress (talk) 20:45, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
You miss the point entirely. Stating that Somalia's negative points are addressed further in the article does not change the fact that the opening paragraph - which is going to be read by everyone who sees this article, while the rest of it may not be read - is absurdly biased and overly positive, all to support a political point. This article has been co-opted into a political propaganda, which goes against the tenets that Wikipedia is founded on. If, for example, the introduction to the article on North Korea claimed it was a happy utopia, while the rest of the article pointed out that it was not, would that change the fact that the opening paragraph is misleading? I am clearly not the first to notice this bias, and it is evident that a single individual is holding this entire article hostage just so they can try and prove a political point. (talk) 13:00, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Engaging in personal attacks and repeating almost verbatim what other accounts have stated as an anonymous IP won't change the fact that the passage you're alluding to is sourced to the CIA [28]: "while its institutions remain weak, the TFG continues to reach out to Somali stakeholders and to work with international donors to help build the governance capacity of the TFIs and to work toward national elections in 2011," And the CIA source was, of course, already deemed a reliable source by an ArbCom admin on RS/N. Middayexpress (talk) 17:33, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I added the failed state info not aware of this discussion. I think the concept is (although disputed, like many things in this world) caries much weight and its a widely used concept in state theory. ... But anyway, where is the RFC that was filed? L.tak (talk) 20:50, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
The RFC expired [29], and only an anonymous IP weighed in. It seems the page has attracted one too many socks. Time to do something about that. Middayexpress (talk) 21:15, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Failed state

I have been reading parts of the texts here on the POV. Although very relevant, it seems to be not getting us any closer, so I am starting a specific discussion here that is mentioned tangantially in some points. Feel free to readd here focussing only on the topic The failed state concept indicates (very roughly) when a government has de facto no control anymore of (violent power in) its own territory. The Failed States Index is a Foreign policy (journal) attempt to list them; the Brookings Institution's index of state weakness is another one. Although the year to year absolute value might not be extremely important there, Somalia is often referred to as a failed state (e.g. here, and it has been consistently on nr 1 for several years on both lists. I think that is relevant and propose to make a subsection discussion that. Let me know what you think! L.tak (talk) 21:46, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

The Brookings Institute's Index of State Weakness in the Developing World metric has nothing to do with the "failed state" concept, but specifically with state weakness in the developing world. In Somalia's case, it's also based on very limited data vis-a-vis certain sectors and is heavily weighted toward politics and security in the country's southern conflict zones. Again, the assertions of Somalia being a "failed state" only apply to southern Somalia, where the war is actually going on; it does not apply to the stable autonomous regions in the north (i.e. Puntland, Somaliland and Galmudug; the bulk of Somalia). The "failed state" concept itself is likewise a dubious, politically-motivated concept ([30]), and all newspaper assertions of Somalia being a "failed state" (including that National Geographic article) ultimately originate with the Fund For Peace's index. And the Fund For Peace is of course still very much an advocacy group ([31]), which by definition is not allowed on Wikipedia. Middayexpress (talk) 22:02, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Foreign policy is co-publishing it and a reputable journal, and with that it is a reliable source weighing in (and not the only one). Defining the failed state loosely as "not having the monopoly on accepted violence" would make it qualify if Somalia doesnt control a signficant proportion of its borders. At failed state, a map is shown of somalia indicating that only a small part of the country is under control of the interim government. I will see if I can find a source for that statement there. Any other sources for which part is under control of the government at the moment? L.tak (talk) 22:34, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
As that link to research from a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI) makes clear, the "failed state" concept actually has no coherent definition. More importantly, it's politically-motivated, not fact-based ([32]). It also makes no difference whether the index was published in Foreign Policy magazine. It was still prepared by the Fund for Peace. And the Fund For Peace is of course still very much an advocacy group ([33]), which by definition is not allowed on Wikipedia. There's no getting around that. Middayexpress (talk) 23:23, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, actually there might be a way around that. Considering the list is a primary source, and wikipedia does not like primary sources (except for having the primary information), we would need reliable secondary sources to give it value, rather than interpreting itself. I think there are plenty of such secondary sources. A second point is the non-clear definition. This is also a problem at definition of sovereign states, yet it is deemed a very impartant concept and used in virtually every state-article. So even if the definition is a bit fuzzy, if the concept has value it can be used. L.tak (talk) 15:13, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it's not the "concept" that's being cited (which in itself is very subjective and does not mean much [34]), but specifically the ultimate origin of most references to Somalia being a so-called "failed state"; namely, the Fund for Peace's failed state index. That is specifically what you referenced in your edit. Finding some newspaper article that alludes to its metric/concept won't change this because, as WP:SECONDARY itself indicates, secondary sources themselves "rely on primary sources for their material, often making analytic or evaluative claims about them". And the fact remains that the Fund for Peace is still unfortunately very much an advocacy group ([35]), actively involved in civil causes ("Peace Building Through Education, Art and Civil Advocacy" [36]). Per both both WP:QS and WP:NOTADVOCATE, that makes it an unreliable source for Wikipedia's purposes. Middayexpress (talk) 17:33, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
In the source you cite it is said to by an "advocacy and research group". They are not specifically advocating anything that would render them extremely POV here, but list states in a manner which should be judged by secondary sources. If we find reliable secondary sources evaluating the merits of this lists and use it here in accordance with those merits I still see no problem. But I wonder what other wikipedians (and/or people regularly reacting on this page) think about them, so let's wait a bit for those to weigh in ... L.tak (talk) 18:44, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
As WP:SECONDARY clearly indicates, secondary sources themselves "rely on primary sources for their material, often making analytic or evaluative claims about them", and all newspaper assertions of Somalia being a "failed state" ultimately originate with the Fund For Peace's index. It likewise makes no difference what other accounts/anonymous IPs think. Wikipedia is not a democracy and its best practices are not determined by popular vote; only Wikipedia's actual policies and guidelines determine those. Further, the Fund for Peace itself openly admits to advocating civil causes. That is part of its motto: "Peace Building Through Education, Art and Civil Advocacy" ([37]). In the words of the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton, the Fund for Peace has also been "long one of the most openly pro-communist outfits in the country" ([38]). And of course, per both WP:QS and WP:NOTADVOCATE, that definitely makes it an unreliable source for Wikipedia's purposes. Middayexpress (talk) 19:17, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Regardless of what you think of the Fund for Peace, the Failed States Index is published by Foreign Policy, and that's what makes it a reliable source. Swarm X 21:47, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I unfortunately never posted my opinion on the Fund for Peace. Rather, I produced links -- including from the organization itself -- that explicitly describe it as an advocacy group, and pro-communist to boot. A source's reliability is also not only determined by who published it, but also who created the material itself (which would be the Fund for Peace): "The word "source" as used on Wikipedia has three related meanings: the piece of work itself (the article, book), the creator of the work (the writer, journalist), and the publisher of the work (The New York Times, Cambridge University Press). All three can affect reliability." So that's WP:RS, WP:QS and WP:NOTADVOCATE that all make the Fund for Peace's index an unreliable source for Wikipedia's purposes. Middayexpress (talk) 23:04, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
We are turning around in circles here. The point is whether we trust secondary sources to evaluate primary sources even if primary sources are a thinktank that has had ties to communism according to CIA. Shall I raise the matter at the primary sources noticeboard? L.tak (talk) 15:12, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
Even if we don't (and I don't think Middayexpress' arguments are very convincing), there are PLENTY of other RS which claim that Somalia is a failed state [39]. If Middayexpress doesn't like the Failed State Index, then let's use the New York Times [40], USA Today [41], or the Daily Mail [42]. Surely these aren't "advocacy" groups as well?
I completely agree with the editors above that this needs to be included in the article, probably in the lead. The current version reads like a promotional piece and needs some serious work to get rid of all the POV. TDL (talk) 22:27, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Alright, I'm going to add it. Suggestions for wording and placement in the article? Swarm X 03:44, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

L.tak: Yes, we are turning arounding in circles because, as already pointed out, all of the newspaper assertions of Somalia being a "failed state" (a concept which itself is dubious [43]) ultimately originate with the Fund For Peace's index; that includes the articles above. There is also no getting around the fact that the Fund For Peace (a) is an advocacy group [44] (that's without scare quotes), (b) openly admits to advocating civil causes [45], and (c) has, in the words of the former National Security Advisor to President Bill Clinton, been "long one of the most openly pro-communist outfits in the country. Per both WP:QS and WP:NOTADVOCATE, that makes it an unreliable source for Wikipedia's purposes. At any rate, the "failed state" concept applies to a state government's perceived failure in carrying out its responsibilities. Placing the material in the lede as has been done is clearly misleading since it falsely implies that the war is going on in all of Somalia (when it's only the south, not the stable northern autonomous regions) and that there has been little change in the federal government's ability to perform its duties during that entire period. For starters, Somalia only topped the index specifically during the tenure of the establishment+Islamist coalition government that first came to power in 2008-2009 as a result of the UN-brokered Djibouti Peace Process. Not long after the "moderate" Islamists entered government, charges of corruption and inefficiency began to surface. Within months, the coalition government also lost almost all of the territory that the previous secular government had gained, going from controlling over 70% of south-central Somalia's conflict zones to just a few blocks in Mogadishu. As of November of this past year, however, Somalia now has a new government. And this new government is actually quite well-regarded in the international community ([46], [47]). In just its first two months in office, the government has managed to secure control of over 55% of the capital, where between 70%-80% of the city's population live, and its steadily expanding its control as more TFG & AU troops enter the city ([48], [49]). I have therefore placed the material in the relevant coalition government section, during whose tenure the state actually topped the index. I have also clarified the impact that the 1992 UN arms embargo has had on the government's ability to more adequately defend itself, as well as the Somaliland region's secessionist government's active role in attempting to de-stabilize the south via its ties with the militants. Middayexpress (talk) 03:55, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

3 reactions to your reaction
  • Just to get this a bit clearer: do you have sources on the failed state index only focussing on part of somalia?
  • the rest you state is a bit repeating of statements for which I have heard before and I will not react to to avoid the circles. I do note however that we seem to be coming to a consensus (ok, not unanimity) in that we have reliable sources for it...
  • It is promising to hear the plans of the new government, but it has hardly outlived its whitebread weeks so I am sure if it would not be too fast to move things in sections suggestion it were points raised by other governments. I suggest we wait a bit before doing it like that (1 year or so) and see if we have independent sources that the situation has; and until then don't make a too strong separation between before and after... And Somalia is still topping that index as we speak based on data of just 1-2 years ago... L.tak (talk) 23:00, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
A failed state supposedly refers to a government that cannot fulfill its obligations. The northern Puntland and Somaliland are stable regions with capable governments, which is specifically why the U.S. is now directly engaging them in its two-track policy. The notion of a "failed state" does not and never has applied to them. The index also does not apply to the new federal government because it was published during the tenure of the coalition government, which lost all of the territory gained by the previous secular administration (over 70% of south-central Somalia). It's specifically during this period when Somalia topped the index, and that is almost understandable. However, the new government is well-regarded by the international community, has already made significant progress, and by the looks of it, will continue to do so. The material therefore should be put into its proper context, which I've done. Middayexpress (talk) 01:09, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
Before I forget, the Somaliland region did not obtain independence in 1960, as you seem to suggest in one edit; that NYT article you linked to pertains to the former State of Somaliland, which was briefly independent for a few days. Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal was the second president of the Somaliland region (which was formed in 1991), not the few day-old State of Somaliland. Also, I notice that in your comment above from 22:34, 8 January 2011 you mention that on the failed state article, "a map is shown of somalia indicating that only a small part of the country is under control of the interim government". I'm glad that you brought this to my attention because that map you allude to is complete OR; refer to this. Middayexpress (talk) 03:55, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
maybe I miswrote or misunderstood then, was he the second president of the somaliland region treated here? [and for that seemingly updated image, it's a bit disappointing indeed it is updated without giving any sources...] L.tak (talk) 22:51, 26 January 2011 (UTC)