It is reiterated by social scientists that conflicts are, generally, manifestations of grievance that emanate from differences in values, interests, beliefs, perceptions or ideologies. When it comes to the conflicts in the Horn of Africa one can identify intricate but open religious and interest based conflict in the Sudan; a mixture of value, interest, belief, and ideology based conflicts in Ethiopia and Eritrea (Daniel). By using the Security Dilemma theory to explain Somalia's clan conflict, international relations experts see conflict as an offensive approach, whereby one actor (in this case, the clan) prepares to defend itself, which is perceived by another actor as threatening (Kaufman, 855). Laitin is careful to suggest that even though there were many threats to survival and security that may have motivated the Somali clans to arm themselves, such as the fear of enemy clans gaining state power after Said lost power in 1991, the security dilemma may not have been a principle motivator for the actions taken. Instead, Laitin argues that it was not security playing primary role, but perhaps a desire to ensure a future Somali state. Until 1991, the Security Dilemma may be a good explanation for clans fighting among themselves, but when Said was taken out of office in 1991, it is no longer valid reasoning for why the fighting could not cease to allow unification. Laitin also points out that the civil war that broke out in Somalia after 1991 was not due to the breakdown of the Central State and a resulting violent anarchy. No one clan was seeking State control to begin with.
In David Laitin's paper, "Somalia-Civil War and International Intervention," he notes that country experts usually blame the causes of that intrastate conflict on the segmentary lineage system, the brutality and corruption of Siad's regime, the international agreements that allowed Somalia to become heavily militarized, ecological conditions in the late 1980s. Though ecological conditions in the late 1980s in Somalia were poor as well, this too is another local condition of the conflict while still others argue against local conditions as causes. By suggesting the conflict and civil war in Somalia is due to local conditions only is a testament that the international system will be of no avail in preventing future conflicts of other countries who do not necessarily have Somali like "symptoms" of war. International relations experts will claim otherwise.
Somali society is organized as a segmentary lineage system culminating in the qolo translated as clan or tribe. The association of these groupings, each of which claims descent from a single ancestor, constitutes the agnatic basis of Somali society where community is expressed genealogically. Clans are therefore considered wider families, and community is formulated in the idiom of kinship (Klein). Though fluid loyalties and shifting allegiances are the hallmark of the social system, two main lineages - the Sab and Samale, and six main clans are conventionally recognized in ethnographic surveys: Dir, Isaq, Darod, Hawiye, Digil and Rahanwein. Each of these is in turn subdivided, into often a more prominent sub-unit, known as reer. The loose association of clans with particular territory has in recent years been asserted more vigorously as a