What’s in it for us? Armed drone strikes and the security of Somalia’s Federal Government

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Strikes conducted by the US using armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) against the terrorist group al-Shabaab have received widespread attention documenting the number of strikes, the reactions of the local Somalis, and the disparity between AFRICOM and local reporting. Using interview data from individuals in Mogadishu, Nairobi and elsewhere in the region, this article provides a counterpoint to previous studies by measuring the Federal Government of Somalia’s (FGS) reliance on the US drone campaign in Somalia in order to maintain its tenuous hold on power. It measures the extent to which the drone campaigns of external parties are able to insulate weak host governments from the threat of an internal foe. It finds that US drone strikes offer the occasional but only reliable check on al-Shabaab thereby allowing the FGS to continue functioning in Mogadishu. Yet strikes should not be construed as a sign of overt US support for the FGS. Rather, the US government, deeply suspicious of a highly corrupt and incapable FGS, continues to prosecute drone strikes against al-Shabaab because Washington considers the group poses a national security threat to the US.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)773-800
    Number of pages28
    JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 18 May 2020


    • al-Shabaab
    • armed unmanned aerial vehicle
    • Drone strikes
    • insurgency
    • Somalia
    • state collapse


    Dive into the research topics of 'What’s in it for us? Armed drone strikes and the security of Somalia’s Federal Government'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this