Hypothesis and Introduction
This paper argues that if pervasive identity divisions are enshrined in a state’s history, perpetuated in its constitution, exacerbated by irregular immigration permeating from war zones, and worsened by informal illicit economies, then a state can become destabilized – or even become a failing state – as seen in a comparative case study of Lebanon and Somalia. The key independent variables in this hypothesis are the presence of identity divisions in state’s history and constitution worsened by irregular immigration and illicit goods and markets. The key dependent variable is the status of a state as a failing unit of government.
Lebanon and Somalia both demonstrate the following independent variables in similar ways. The governments of both states have endured a history of foreign intervention and civil war, leading to factionalism based off of religion in Lebanon’s case and off of clan in Somalia’s case. Both states perpetuate this factionalism in their constitutions and electoral systems. The stability situation is further worsened for both states due to the high movement of people between borders as displaced persons, which facilitates unrest. Also, the presence of illicit economies through the drug and arms trade weaken the already unstable sovereignty of the central government. These factors perpetuate violence and identity divisions, which respectively decrease the legitimacy, authority, and sovereignty of the central governments in Beirut and Mogadishu.
The hypothesis will be valid pending the presentation of evidence that historical intervention and civil war has taken place that weakened the central government. This paper will use empirical data by credible academic sources that establishes the gravity of the refugee crises in Somalia and Lebanon. This paper will also use journalistic reports and fact-finding missions to determine the presence and impact of illicit economies in Lebanon and Somalia. If any deficiencies are noticed, they will be discussed in the conclusion for future research.
Lebanon: Sectarian Violence Rips at the Seams of the State
Lebanon has a long history of occupation and civil strife on sectarian lines. The French occupied Lebanon from 1923 until 1943, and placed the Maronite Christians into positions of power. President Camille Chamoune requestedU.S. armed intervention under the Eisenhower Doctrine in 1958 against Arab nationalism. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and later Hezbollah used Lebanon as a base to launch attacks on Israel, leading to Israeli armed intervention in 1978, 1982, and 2006. Full blown civil war broke out in 1975 between Christians and the South Lebanese Army than wanted to expel the PLO against Muslims who wanted to support the PLO under the ideology of pan-Arabism. In 1976, Syrian troops, welcomed by the government in Beirut, attempted to control the chaos. After the Israeli invasion of 1982, Syrian and PLO troops evacuated the capital, and a Multinational Force (MNF) of French, Italian, and Americans, patrolled Beirut. The civil war heightened identity tensions when Christian Lebanese militias massacred Muslim Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Disenfranchised Lebanese attacked foreign outposts with bombs, most notably the attack on the U.S. Embassy in April 1983, and the MNF barrack bombings in October 1983.  The Lebanese Civil War effectively ended in 1990 with an estimated 150,000 fatalities, 300,000 wounded and 500,000 internationally displaced Lebanese. Thus, Lebanon has a history of sectarian violence and foreign intervention, weakening the central government in Beirut.
Lebanese Governmental Problems
The Lebanese Constitution is unfinished at best, or a faulty compromise at worst because of political confessionalism, or the blend of religion and politics. Two constitutional articles roughly contradict each other on the nature of this church-state notion. Article Eight attempts to limit the blend of politics and religion by stating, “The abolition of political confessionalism shall be a basic national goal and shall be achieved according to a gradual plan.” While Article Eight stalls on the question of religion and politics, Article Twenty-Four on legislative power continues the religious divide. Article Twenty-Four reads, “The Chamber of Deputies shall be composed of elected members; their number and the method of their election shall be determined by the electoral laws in effect. Until such time as the Chamber enacts new electoral laws on a non-confessional basis, the distribution of seats shall be according to the following principals: One. Equal representation between Christians and Muslims. Two Proportional representation among the confessional groups within each religious community.” Yet the principle of equal representation between Christians and Muslims and proportional representation is bound to fail; according to the Central Intelligence Agency, 54% of the Lebanese population is Muslim, which can be further subdivided into 18 different and competing sects, 40.5% is Christian, and 5.6% is Druze. Article Twenty Four in the Lebanese Constitution fails to react to shifting demographics, especially the presence of the Druze faith and the diversity of Islam into account. Furthermore, the “National Pact” created in the wake of French withdrawal established the tradition of division of key executive and legislative posts based off of religion; thus the President would be Maronite Christian, the Speaker of Parliament would be Shia Muslim, and the Prime Minister would be Sunni Muslim. Furthermore, this pact slowed Lebanese involvement in intergovernmental organizations, as the Christians vowed not to seek Western military support and the Muslims rejected pan-Arabism. These religiously based political arrangements led Imad Harb of the United States Institute of Peace to conclude that “Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.” Confessionalism perpetuates identity divisions in Lebanon, weakening the legitimacy of the Lebanese government.
Spillover from the Syrian Civil War: Refugees and Militia Clashes
The influx of refugees fleeing violence in Syria has further stretched the scant resources of the Lebanese state. The United Nations claimed that in April 2014 that over one million Syrians, half of them children, had fled to Lebanon seeking refuge from the civil war. Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, noted that this “was a devastating milestone worsened by rapidly depleting resources and a host community stretched to breaking point.” In 2011, the most popular refugee destination was Tripoli, which accepted refugees fleeing from Homs. In 2012, the most popular refugee destination was the Bekaa Valley, which accepted refugees fleeing from Damascus. Furthermore, Sunni Lebanese militias have been fighting Alawite militias on the Lebanese-Syrian border, further destabilizing the area. Additionally, Lebanese officials have struggle to identity and to compel the civilian refugees to register, as the immigrants fear reprisal attacks by competing religious sects. The Syrian Civil War has led to a boom of irregular immigration and sporadic violence in northern Lebanon.
Lebanon’s Illicit Economy: Hashish
While the Syrian Civil War distracts the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah, hashish farmers in the Bekaa Valley have been able to easily grow and process their crop across borders without threat of its state regulated destruction. Joseph Skaff, the chief of Lebanon’s office of transnational organized crime noted, “There was no destruction of growing this year… The Syrian crisis played a major role in that.” Farmers in the Bekaa Valley noted that demand for their drugs in Syria was up by 50%. Bekka hashish has a street price of $20 in Lebanon, $100 in Syria, and $500 in Turkey for 40 grams, which created an export-friendly environment for the farmers and traffickers. Cheap labor in the form of Syrian refugees has expedited the marijuana harvest and hashish refinement process. Furthermore, when the Lebanese Army intruded into the Bekaa Valley, farmers quipped with RPGs, AKs, and PKMs fought them off to defend their livelihood. One Bekaa farmer blamed the government for the illicit hashish economy, claiming that “the problem is that we want an alternative to growing hash. The government hasn’t done anything to provide alternatives to farmers.” Thus, hashish forms a major part of an illicit economy which weakens the government’s rule of law.
Lebanon’s Illicit Economy: Arms
Following the Lebanese Civil War, armed intervention, and the ongoing Syrian Civil War, “the country increasingly resembles a giant weapons market.” Sunni militants and Hezbollah arms dealers sell M4s, AKs, pistols, heavy machine guns, RPGs, and grenades to the highest bidder that has the same sectarian background. These merchants of death have filed down the weapons’ serial numbers to hide their country of origin, as many of the arms come from Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The sheer proliferation of the weapons lead an arms dealer to conclude that, “there isn’t a house without a weapon.” The same arms deal noted the importance of the weapons, stating, “A person would sell their son before they sold their gun.” Thus, arms dealings on sectarian lines provides for a greater means and opportunity for identity divisions to result in violence.
The conditions in Lebanon fulfill the premise set in the hypothesis. Following a history of Syrian, Israeli, and American intervention, sectarian civil war broke out. Ideas concerning political confessionalism persist under Article Twenty-Four of the Lebanese Constitution and the policy of the “National Pact.” The spillover of the Syrian Civil War, including irregular immigrants and violence, have impacted Lebanon by straining its resources and encouraging violence between different religious sects. Furthermore, illicit economies in the form of the hashish trade and arms dealing weaken the Lebanese government’s claim of sovereignty over its territory.
Somalia: Competition Ideologies Rips at the Seams of the State
Much like Lebanon, Somalia has a long history of foreign occupation and violence on the clan, warlord, and religious lines. During the “Scramble for Africa” in the late 1800s, Europeans occupied Somali lands. For example, France occupied Djibouti, Britain occupied British Somaliland, and Italy occupied Italian Somaliland. Somalia gained its independence in 1956, but soon engaged in border conflicts with Kenya and Ethiopia. Siad Barre became the dictator of Somalia following a military coup in 1969. His policies flirted with socialism and Arab nationalism, but eventually reversed course to gain the American support during the Cold War. Following Barre’s removal in 1991, the two major identity groups, rival warlords and clans, vied for power. This chaos led to U.S. and U.N. intervention, cumulating in the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident during the Battle of Mogadishu. This squalor led northern regions of Somalia to declared independence, such as Somaliland in 1991 and Puntland in 1998. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, seeking to unite the war-ravaged country formed in Kenya in 2004. However, they faced opposition with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) took control of Mogadishu in the summer of 2006, leading to Ethiopian armed intervention to support the TFG. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops moved into Somalia to keep the peace in 2007. More foreign intervention occurred in 2008, when the U.N. approved of a multinational naval force to combat pirates off the coast of Somalia. Al-Shabaab, a violent splinter faction of the ICU made territorial gains in southern Somalia, prompting Kenyan armed intervention in 2011. In 2012, Al-Shaabab formally merged with al Qaeda. Al-Shabaab launched reprisal attacks against AMISOM member states, including the Kampala bombings in July 2010 and the Westgate Mall siege in September 2013. Somalia has struggled to maintain its sovereignty because of foreign intervention and rival warring groups.
Problems with the Provisional Government: Corruption, Clannism, and Compartmentalization
The nascent Transitional Federal Government drafted a Provisional Constitution in August 2012; however, structural flaws in the TFG and identity divisions persist. The legal system in Somalia is a byzantine mix of xeer (customary law), civil law, and Islamic Sharia law. This tension between sources of the legal system is apparent in the Somali Provisional Constitution. Article Two states, “1) Islam is the religion of the State. (2) No religion other than Islam can be propagated in the country. (3) No law which is not compliant with the general principles and objectives of Shari’ah can be enacted.” Yet the primacy of Sharia law and Islam falls into a grey zone among a plurality of identities in Article Eleven. The article states, “(1) All citizens, regardless of sex, religion, social or economic status, political opinion, clan, disability, occupation, birth or dialect shall have equal rights and duties before the law.” Further complicating measures is 4.5 power sharing formula between clans, which gave the presidency to a member of the Hawiye clan and the speaker of the parliament post to a member of the Rahanweyn clan. This power sharing agreement further subdivided government offices between the four largest clans, while lumping all the other clans into the half. Clannism and corruption also became apparent in the selection of representatives in the TFG. According to The Economist, “To lend some legitimacy to the process, it [TFG] relies heavily on Somalia’s powerful clan system. Elders from each of the important tribal groups were asked to nominate their own MPs.” Some of the MPs purchased their seats, spending up to $25,000. These factors of political instability led American Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to conclude that, “The credibility and effectiveness of the young Somali government will be further threatened by persistent political infighting, weak leadership from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud [and] ill-equipped government institutions.” Thus, the government of Somalia is still struggling to establish its legitimacy before its own people and the international community at large.
Irregular Immigration within and from Somalia
The years of civil strife forced many Somalis to become displaced from their homes. According to the U.N. High Commission on Refugees, 1,130,939 refugees currently are originating from Somalia and 1,122,559 are internally displaced persons within Somalia in mid-2013. The Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya’s North Eastern Province held over 450,000 Somali refugees. Somalis have been displaced within the country, with up to 35,000 fleeing form Mogadishu to the Badbaado refugee camp. The refugee situation became even direr in these camps following droughts, declining food aid, and the spread of disease. Furthermore, these camps pose a security risk as Al-Shabaab has easily recruited the disenfranchised youth and to escape AMISOM manhunts for them in these camps. The refugee situation in Somalia is striking because of the sheer numbers of people displaced within and from Somalia, and its connotations with the Al-Shabaab insurgency.
Mogadishu’s Bakara Market: All Commodities Have a Price
One place of illicit commerce that subverts the Transitional Federal Government is the Bakara Market. The market is “the geographical and financial center” of Mogadishu. Whoever controlled the market tends to control Mogadishu, resulting in fierce fighting between the Islamic Courts Union and warlords in May 2006, resulting in over 300 fatalities. Merchants often “hire” clansmen to protect their wares, creating a culture of extortion. Merchants sell medicines, stolen from humanitarian aid or counterfeited from Asia, without any governmental oversights or consumer protection. The fuel area is adjacent to the arms market, leading the EU survey to concluded, “Obviously, no one is really thinking about safety.” Despite the presence of a U.N. arms embargo since 1992, Uganda, Romanian, Yemen, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia have been known to have supplied arms into Mogadishu, which are sold openly. Furthermore, in May 2009, the U.S. gave over 40 tons of arms to the Transitional Federal Government so that the Somali National Army could fight Al-Shabaab; within months, the American weapons were on sale in the Bakara Market. This influx of weaponry has led to 550,000 to 750,000 small arms floating around in Somalia. Additionally, in the “recycled” wares part of the market, vendors sell second-hand electronics, falsified documents, and drugs. Money laundering occurs through a foreign exchange market and gold trade to facilitate questionable legal activities. Ultimately, the Bakara Market facilitates transnational organized crime, which weakens the sovereignty of the Somali Government.
Qat: The Drug of Choice in Somalia
Somalia also has a serious problem with the abuse of qat. Qat, or “the leaves of Catha edulis” grows on the Swahili Coast. The active ingredient, Cathonine, stimulating effect on the brain when chewed. Yet the U.N. classified this chemical as a Schedule 1 substance under the UN Convention of Psychotropic Substances, with abuse of cathonine leading to paranoia, cancer, and aggression. Journalist James Fergusson estimated that 60%-75% of Somalis used or trafficked qat, yielding $250 million in trade around the Horn of Africa. Furthermore Fergusson concluded that “qat was a major contributor to the specific Somali problem of paternal absenteeism,” as mostly men chewed qat over long periods, squandering time and money. Qat also impacts the Somali Diaspora community abroad. While qat is illegal in the U.S., it is still legal in the U.K., where the substance serves as a social function for the Somali Diaspora community. However, CNN claimed that U.K. “qat-chewing dens” served as a meeting place for Al-Shabaab agents abroad and facilitate terrorism. Qat subverts the economics and social well-being of the Somali state.
Thus, Somalia has struggled in its governance because of a perfect storm of challenges. The Transitional Federal Government perpetuates contending identities over religion and clan through the Provisional Constitution, the 4.5 power sharing agreement, and corruption. Over one million Somalia are displaced within the state, and an additional million are displaced from the state, making the Horn of Africa a fertile zone for insurgent groups like Al-Shabaab. The Bakara Market and the illicit use of weapons, documents, and qat, compound the problems of Somalia from the domestic household into a transnational organized crime hub.
Conclusions on the Comparisons between Lebanon and Somalia
In the light of the evidence present, it is fair to claim that Lebanon and Somalia are failing states because the central government fails to provide security and order for its citizens. Lebanon and Somalia have a lengthy history of civil war and foreign interventionism in the colonial and neocolonial age. Furthermore, these armed incursions have fomented blowback insurgent attacks on their near and far enemies. Both states have serious flaws in their constitution – such as continuing political confessionalism in Lebanon and the primacy of religious law in Somalia – and in their power sharing arrangements – such as the Lebanese “National Pact” and the Somali 4.5 power sharing agreement. Lebanon and Somalia also face a challenge in providing for irregular immigrants seeking to escape conflict within the state and from other states. Additionally, illicit goods and services in drugs, arms, and markets, compound unrest as transnational organized criminal syndicates exploit the weakness of the failing states.
Some factors that seemed important that were not in the paper’s original hypothesis were the boom of Somali piracy, the withdrawal of NGOs from Somalia, and the lack of solid empirical data on topics. Somali piracy would be an interesting topic, as the illicit service allows Somali towns to develop outside of the central government in Mogadishu. The withdrawal of NGOs, such as Doctors without Borders and the World Food Programme, help illustrate how some members of the international community view Somalia as too unstable to be helped. These two facets of political unrest in Somalia were not included, as it would have disproportionately skewed the research assignment in favor of Somalia and the expense of Lebanon. Some empirical information, such as the annual profit margins of marijuana farmers and smuggles in Lebanon, the number and total value of arms sold in Lebanon, and the increased purchasing power of merchants in the Bakara Market, would have been useful while compiling this case study. Yet these sources eluded my research, and if they did exist, the estimates could be skewed due to underreporting or over reporting of illicit goods and services in failing states. While this paper serves as a basic case study between Somali and Lebanon, further topics and empirical data can be investigated.
In the event the paper’s hypothesis was amended while testing it on two different countries, the author would recommend that the blanket term of transnational organized crime be used rather than simply listing irregular immigration and illicit economies. This phrasing shift would be more clear and concise in word count and cover other facets of the foundations of a failed state, such as corruption, extortion, and money laundering that were mentioned in this paper, while tying these forms of crime and their impact more closely to the thesis. Ideal countries for a second country would come from the same geographic region – Middle East and North Africa – and would have similar struggles with security and order. Some recommended countries would include Mali, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Cyprus, as their central government has faced excessive long term violence over its sovereignty.
Another addition for a future hypothesis would be the use of non-governmental organization reports to measure civil liberties in the failing states. A follow-up paper could encompass the use of NGO reports from Reporters without Borders to measure press freedoms, from Transparency International to measure the accountability of the central government, and from Amnesty International to measure the respect of human rights of the central government. These watchdogs provide frameworks and empirical paradigms to provide a better comparison between countries in a quantified measurement.
Reinforced identity divisions, when compounded with transnational organized crime and the absence of a strong central government, can lead a state to fail. Somalia and Lebanon have demonstrated this hypothesis as being true following a history of civil wars and foreign intervention, identity divisions preserved in constitutional divides and power sharing arrangements, illicit goods, and illicit services.
“Mogadishu Becomes Hot Spot for Quick, Illegal Arms Sales.” Catholic Online. February 14, 2013. Accessed April 16, 2014. https://www.catholic.org/news/international/africa/story.php?id=49731.
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 BBC, “Lebanon Profile,” BBC News. April 4, 2014. Accessed April 22, 2014; Denise Coleman, “Lebanon: Political Conditions,” CountryWatch. December 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014; Leda Harma, “Islamic Sectarianism: Can the Sunni-Shiite Hostilities Be Resolved?” CQ Researcher 6 no. 15 (August 2012): 362.
 BBC, “Lebanon Profile.”; Denise Coleman, “Lebanon: Political Conditions.”
 BBC, “Lebanon Profile.”; Denise Coleman, “Lebanon: Political Conditions.”; Fawwaz Traboulsi, A History of Modern Lebanon. (Ann Arbor: Pluto, 2007), vii.
 BBC, “Lebanon Profile.”; Denise Coleman, “Lebanon: Political Conditions.”
 Denise Coleman, “Lebanon: Political Conditions.”
 Republic of Lebanon, Ministry of the Interior, “The Lebanese Constitution,” Accessed March 24, 2014.
 CIA World Factbook, “Lebanon,” April 16, 2014. Accessed April 18, 2014.
 Imad Harb, “Lebanon’s Confessionalism: Problems and Prospects,” United States Institute of Peace. March 30, 2006.
 Susan Haugbolle, War and Memory in Lebanon. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 35.
 Imad Harb, “Lebanon’s Confessionalism: Problems and Prospects.”
 Agence France-Press, “One million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, UN says,” The Guardian. April 3, 2014. Accessed April 4, 2014.
 Hala Naufal, “Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: the Humanitarian Approach under Political Divisions,” Migration Policy Centre. Research Report 2012/2013, 2.
 Leda Harma,“Islamic Sectarianism: Can the Sunni-Shiite Hostilities Be Resolved?” 358.
  Hala Naufal, “Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: the Humanitarian Approach under Political Divisions,” 9.
 Rana Moussaoui, “In Lebanon, Marijuana Trade Thrives From Chaos Of Syrian Civil War,” Agence France Presse. Reprinted by The Huffington Post. November 26, 2013. Updated on January 26, 2014.
 Vice News, “Lebanon’s Hash Farms,” Youtube. March 4, 2014
 Vice News, “Lebanon’s Illegal Arms Dealers,” Youtube. February 24, 2014.
 BBC, “Somalia Profile,” BBC News. September 24, 2013. Accessed November 15, 2013.
 BBC, “Somalia Profile.”; Denise Coleman, “Somalia: Political Conditions,” CountryWatch. December 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014.
 BBC, “Somalia Profile.”; Denise Coleman, “Somalia: Political Conditions.”
 Stig Jarle Hansen, Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 142.
 BBC, “Somalia Profile.”; Denise Coleman, “Somalia: Political Conditions.”
 BBC, “In Prison with Al-Shabab: What Drives Somali Militants?” BBC News. October 4, 2013. Accessed November 15, 2013.
 Denise Coleman, “Somalia: Political Structure,” CountryWatch. December 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014.
 The Federal Republic of Somalia. “Provisional Constitution.” August 1, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2014.
 The Federal Republic of Somalia. “Provisional Constitution.” August 1, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2014.
 James Fergusson, The World’s Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia. (Boston: Da Capo Press, 2013), 84.
 The Economist, “Baby Steps; Somalia’s Government,” August 25, 2012. p. 37. Accessed February 8, 2014. Military and Intelligence Database Collection.
 UNHCR. “Somalia.” Accessed April 18, 2014.
 James Fergusson, The World’s Most Dangerous Place, 368.
 Ibid., 140-145
 Ibid., 144-145.
 Ibid., 141.
 Ibid., 17.
 Ibid., 64.
 Roland Marchal, “A Survey of Mogadishu’s Economy,” European Commission/Somali Unit. August 2002, 64.
 Ibid., 65-66.
 Ibid., 67.
 Roland Marchal, “A Survey of Mogadishu’s Economy,” 69-70.
 John Felton, “Small Arms Trade,” CQ Researcher 6 no. 12 (June 2012): 296.
 “Mogadishu Becomes Hot Spot for Quick, Illegal Arms Sales,” Catholic Online. February 14, 2013. Accessed April 16, 2014.
 Roland Marchal, “A Survey of Mogadishu’s Economy,” 70-74.
 James Fergusson, The World’s Most Dangerous Place, 26.
 Ibid., 333-334.
 Ibid., 334.
 Ibid., 329.
 James Fergusson, The World’s Most Dangerous Place, 334.
 Ibid., 327.
 Ibid., 328.