A Human Rights Watch report documents abuses by the Somali government and African Union peacekeeping forces, as well as Al Shabab.
The Somalia famine has exacerbated divisions within the Islamist militant group Al Shabab, whose more pragmatic leaders want to allow Western food aid into the areas they control.
The Islamist group Al Shabab withdrew from Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu, this weekend, but whether that is a sign of success for the African Union mission and Somalian government is unclear.
Guest blogger Alex Thurston writes that the US made the right call by giving aid to Somalia because it is the moral thing to do and because it could have unexpectedly positive political results.
The African Union Mission in Somalia has been gaining ground against Al Shabab, but threats of countries withdrawing soldiers and failure to pay others could set back that progress.
African Union troops aim to deny the militant Islamist group Al Shabab funds it receives from taxing shopkeepers and traders. An apparent surge of AU peacekeepers is challenging Al Shabab's tacit control of Somalia.
The creation of Jubaland/Azania was driven by the need to fight the Al Qaeda-linked militant group, Al Shabab, but it's unclear whether the new region will be able to do that effectively.
The vote of Somalia's transitional parliament to extend its term may damage its international credibility and undermine support in the West.