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.
The year 2011 will include some big developments in Africa to look out for – Sudan's referendum and the continuing strife in Ivory Coast, among others.
A young monk holds a traditional parasol as he waits for the arrival of Tibet's exiled Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Pemayangtse monastery in Pelling in India's Himalayan state of Sikkim. The Dalai Lama is in Sikkim, which borders China, as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao begins his three-day visit to New Delhi.
The size of the ransom and the amount of media attention for Paul and Rachel Chandler has set a 'bad precedent' that could put others in danger from Somali pirates, analysts say.
The US will soon begin direct engagement with would-be states in northern Somalia in hopes of stemming the influence and reach of Somalia's terrorist insurgency.