When analysing links between conflict, trade and foreign aid in Somalia, it is important to examine the role of the Mogadishu- based business class. Mainly urban-based elites benefit from the pro. table business activities, such as the charcoal trade. Nevertheless, potential links between conflict, trade and foreign aid are ambiguous. Whereas trade can trigger conflict in producing areas and along transport routes, it can build trust among the business elite in the urban centres. Today there is a thriving economy largely based on trade and arbitrage, rather than on production, without a functioning state in Somalia. This article argues that, in countries where effective government institutions are absent, security and social services, such as education and health care, are often privatised. However, some individuals have an interest in the continuation of violence to engage in lucrative sectors of the economy which would be regulated or banned under a functioning government.
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