Book Review: Fixing Fragile State (By: Adam Musse Jibril)


About the book: Fixing Fragile State by Set D. Kablan, is a new book which holds new thinking, credible rationale as well as convincing conclusions and realistic approaches, all of which were smartly formulated in an integrated manner that negate traditional theories and stereotypes about solutions and remedies prescribed for tackling sicknesses of the failed and dysfunctional states: bombing money, sending peace-keepers, and funding unproductive and fruitless peace projects based on random and haphazard attempts to fixing failed states. This book explores new alternatives and presents creative recommendations by glorifying the Somaliland’s home-grown peace-building and democratic achievements. The author argues that recognition of Somaliland would set an example elsewhere in the region where epitome of failed state is total and endemic in character.

The book sends clear message to AU, EU and USA in particular, a message which supports an old wisdom that ‘instead of cursing the darkness light a candle’ in other words the robust and ‘success story’ of Somaliland deserves to be lightened and enriched. The author’s clear argument is that recognition of Somaliland’s right to self-determination and international recognition would open a window of hope for peace and democracy for the wider region of the Horn.

The book is an outcome of more than a decade of genuine and objective research dedicated to disprove the old manner in which donor community, governmental and non governmental, used to provide assistance to dysfunctional states where the value and effectiveness of this assistance were paralyzed by misuse, corruption and fraud.


Title of the book

Fixing Fragile States: New Paradigm for development

The fixing Fragile States: new paradigm for development, by Seth D. Kaplan is a new book which has been valued and highly appreciated by specialists, scholars, politicians and government officials on the world level. The book is an outcome of an in-depth scientific research carried out and accomplished through ward-work and patience examining why some states succeed and some others breakdown. The study stretched out on seven case studies around the globe (Republic of Congo DRC, Syria, Somaliland, Somalia, Bolivia, Pakistan and Azerbaijan) out of which the author identified basic substances and characteristics of fragile states, weak states and failed states in the historical context of the formation and development of nation-states and state-nations.

The author looks at Somaliland in full view from the perspective of its historical background and its achievements in peace building and democratization stem from traditional value systems of its society that the country had effectively been maintaining and vigorously enhancing for the last 17 years, and which was appreciated ‘world wide’ as home-grown process based on self-reliance, consensus and culture of peace. The author sees the Somaliland’s grass-root reconciliation policy as a source and grantor of sustainability of its achievements

Some important socio-economic and political concepts and terms addressed by the author, which maintain and legitimize the originality and authenticity of the Somaliland experience, are here below in the following sub-titles:-

Defining fragile and failed states, the author defines fragile, weak and failed states to describe countries unable to administer their territories effectively and says that “although there is no consensus on which places qualified to be given the term of failed or fragile state, most experts agree that any country where the government is unable to administer its territory and deliver most basic services is a failing state”.

◘Adopt local Models, under this subtitle the author says: “States need to look inwards for their resources and institutional models and adopt political structures and processes that reflect the history, complexity, and particularly of their peoples and environment. Far too many postcolonial regimes have looked outward for their governance models and resources becoming dependent on foreign aid … Robust states and formal institutions can develop only when political and economic systems are constructed according to indigenous governance models, patterns of behavior, needs, realities and resources”.

◘Design institutions around identity groups:

The author further conceptualize his findings on the ground under the above sub-title by saying that “if people are to make effective use of their histories and costumes in fashioning institutions and laws that best reflect their particular needs, then state structures must be better aligned with cohesive identity groups where practical”.

◘Construct states bottom-up .One of the closest conceptual terms to the reality of the Somaliland peace building and democratization model is what the author titled “construct states bottom-up” which goes … “In many cases, the best chance for leveraging local capacities and institutions and improve governance will be to focus on building up governments and tying them to as closest as possible to their local communities.

◘New paradigm for development:  According to this proposition he said… “States cannot be made to work from outside. International assistance may be necessary but it is never sufficient to establish formal institutions that are legitimate and sustainable and that can provide the positive societal incentives necessary to jump-start the development process. Instead of seeking to impose a Western style blueprint unsustainable for local conditions international action should be first and foremost about facilitating local process, about leveraging local capacities and about complementing local actions, so that local citizens can create governance systems appropriate to their surroundings. States work effectively when they are a logical reflection of their underlying societal, historical and geographical, human resource, and economic environment, and they are deeply integrate with the societies they purport to represent, able to harness the informal institutions and loyalties of their citizens”.

The rise of an alternative

As conclusion the author underlines that “The Republic of Somaliland… has a far better democratic track record than any of its neighbors … And arguably the healthiest democracy between Israel and Tanzania… The author further highlights Somaliland achievements generalizing and cambering it with failed and failing experiences where international aid assistances were unsuccessful because of the some factors he had identified that were mentioned above. On that respect he says “Somaliland highlights the importance of leveraging indigenous institutions in constructing sturdy, accountable governing structures. Catalyzing bottom-up societal processes, offer the best chance of overcoming the dysfunctional that was plagues many postcolonial governments –including all governments in Mogadishu since independence .Unfortunately, western governments, international aid agencies and developing banks often urge postcolonial countries to adopt programs to reinforce the overly centralized, utterly discredited structures that seek to ignore or suppress the values and customs that most citizens hold dear…In many postcolonial countries, even if state-like entities such as Somaliland are viable in terms of their ability to manage their own territory, to provide basic services, and  in terms of their cohesiveness… The International Community would do better if it focused on re-tailoring those traditional forms of governance that have evolved to suit local conditions.

Strong case for U.S. support: The author urges US government to recognize Somaliland by saying… “Somaliland offers a unique opportunity to promote good governance and democracy in the Middle East and Africa. Helping the country gain recognition, develop its political institutions, and improve its economy would help to advertise some of the code values espoused by the United States in its drive to undermine Islamic extremism and promote democracy in Muslim countries and throughout the world”.

And finally, my motive to review this book is not based only on positive and optimistic stand it viewed Somaliland issue as advocator and promoter of the Somaliland cause but also because, and equally important, that this book carries new conceptual issues essential for correcting erroneous ideas and outdated convictions concerning the way the donor community (governmental and non governmental) used to provide aid to dysfunctional and parasitical regimes. According to the author Somaliland is the most qualified country which deserves aid out of seven countries he had studied.

Somalilanders should be prideful of the appreciation and approval given to their country and endeavors they made in promoting peace and democracy by increasing number of credible scholars and specialists from all continents and many countries of the world. This book ought to be read by all those who want to acquire enough information both Somalilanders and foreigner who need to study Somaliland experience. Formidable information as the type presented by this book will eventually lead to disillusionment of those who still relay on lies and deception and certainly promote truth on the ground.


A number of distinguished world personalities have given comments of   appreciation and approval of the book, whose names and notes of appreciations are on the back page of the book, among them:

-Dr. Chester A. Crocker, Professor of Strategic Studies, Georgetown University, former assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

-Dr. I William, Professor of International Organizations and conflict Resolution, School of advanced Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

-Edna Adan Ismeil, Somaliland’s ex. Minister for Foreign Affairs