The Somali conflict combines some of the risk factors commonly associated with state failure, state collapse and state disintegration phenomenon. This study commences with an exploration of the failure of the peace process in Somalia by investigating the creation of the Somali state in 1960 using literature on state formation and functions, state failure and state disintegration. The main argument is that the Somali state was created on flawed colonial state model and its concomitant shortcomings. Although poor leadership was a factor that led to the weakening of the early Somali state formation, state structural weaknesses were the major factors which facilitated poor leadership that characterised post-independent Somalia, further compounded by the period of military rule under General Siad Barre. Furthermore, the post-Siad Barre conflict was fundamental in swinging the pendulum in favour of the disintegration of the Somali state.
The historical legacy of high social fragmentation in Somalia, reflected in the clan political divisions is a factor that is used by instrumentalists in the perpetuation of the conflict in that country. Similarly, clan political structures are used by civil militia groups, defined in this study as third generation civil militia groups who continue to plunder what remained of the Somali state. The third generation civil militia groups function outside the Westphalian state norms and regulations that are based on the social contract between the state and its citizens. The study then outlines an alternative approach to analysis of conflicts where the state has been decimated and civil militia groups have assumed power without the checks and balances that come with such responsibilities.
Failure of the peace process in Somalia is attributed to the absence of the basic principles of mediation and negotiations during the five main peace processes, and it is concluded that the application of coercive mediation has also contributed to the failure of international diplomacy in this regard. The failure of the peace process has facilitated the transformation of Somalia into a militia state, balkanised along clan militia fiefdoms based on parochial clan political interests in which civil militia leaders are the main beneficiaries of the disintegrated Somali state. Therefore, new approaches to resolve the conflict where civil militia have established governance without government requires further research, as a similar phenomenon is gaining momentum in countries such as Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and the Central African Republic. The study concludes that the current political developments in Somalia cannot be sustainable as long as they are introduced under conditions of coercive force by the international community and the African Union (AU) in particular. Under these circumstances, the conflict will continue to experience some episodic periods of abeyance, and only to resurface at a later stage with high levels of ferocity and intensity.