Posted by: hobbesonafob | October 4, 2009

“Think of him as the accidental warlord” – from Minnesota to Somalia

Mohamed Aden: the "accidental warlord" of Adado (Source: New York Times)

Mohamed Aden: the "accidental warlord" of Adado (Source: New York Times)

I’ve recently read this weekend’s New York Times “Saturday Profile” and came across an interesting person named Mohamed Aden (Here is the article by Jeffrey Gettleman). Mr. Aden is described in the article as

part militia commander, part schoolteacher, part lawmaker, part engineer, part environmentalist, part king — a mind-boggling combination of roles for anyone to play, let alone for a guy who dresses (and talks) like a rapper and recently moved from Minnesota to Somalia in an effort to build a local government…Think of him as the accidental warlord. And a shard of hope.

Although I do not see why dressing and speaking like a rapper would make anything more or less mind-boggling, Gettleman does highlight the multi-faceted nature of building an organization that exercises the state-like attributes described by Charles Tilly: warmaking, statemaking, resource extraction, and protection (it is essentially a “coercive non-state actor” – a CNA).

The article offers a superficial glance of the dynamics that are taking place in Adado, but it does mention the importance of Mr. Aden’s clan in terms of its financial support and its role in legitimizing his rule. The article also highlights the importance of being able to exercise coercive abilities:

When I first arrived, I was afraid,” he recalled. “I didn’t know how the people would react to me, if they would trust me. That first year I was focusing on muscle. Without muscle, you can’t do anything.

As well, Mr. Aden has engaged in Tillian statemaking (eliminating rivals within one’s territory):

People who have challenged his authority have paid the price. Last summer, his police officers shot to death four men who violently refused to vacate a piece of property that Mr. Aden’s administration ruled belonged to someone else.

To effectively administer a large population in a territory as large as Adado is quite an accomplishment (5,000 square miles and a few hundred thousand people). I hope to see a follow-up article on Mr. Aden in the future.



  1. hmmmmmmmmmmm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: