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Horn of Africa
Joint press release by the European Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Ministers and High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini together with Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica met on 22 January 2019 on the margins of the African Union-European Union Ministerial in Brussels.
During the meeting, the two sides strongly condemned the dreadful terrorist attack in Nairobi Kenya. The EU and IGAD welcomed the historic developments in the Horn of Africa with the normalisation of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the tripartite agreement between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, as well as the engagement of Eritrea and Djibouti and Eritrea and Sudan towards normalisation of relations. Together, these provide major new openings for regional cooperation and economic integration. The EU expressed its readiness to accompany this process in close coordination with other actors.
The EU also reiterated its commitment to the region as a whole and underlined its support to the IGAD cooperation framework while encouraging swift decisions on IGAD institutional arrangements. Both sides stressed their desire to consolidate regular dialogue between the EU and IGAD countries and focused their exchanges on peace and security, red sea and mutually beneficial economic cooperation. IGAD Ministers on their part expressed their appreciation for EU’s continued and constructive role in the region, welcome the initiative for such high level engagement and encouraged future engagements on deliverables in the region’s priority agenda such as job creation.
The EU and IGAD countries expressed support for the reform agenda of the Federal Government of Somalia and underlined the need for concrete implementation of the political, security and economic reforms critical for Somalia’s stability. In this context, it is essential that the Federal Government and the Federal Member States overcome differences and collaborate in a close and coordinated manner. The EU also reiterated its commitment to support Somalia’s Recovery and Resilience Framework (RRF) and to support African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) in line with AMISOM’s mandate [UNSCR 2432 (2018)] and the internationally agreed Somalia Transition Plan.
The two parties also reiterated their support for the peace process in South Sudan and the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). They underlined the importance of its implementation in full and as per the agreed time frame. IGAD invites the EU to consider further support to the South Sudan Pre-transition activities, beyond current EU support to the mechanisms of monitoring and implementation.
The EU and IGAD countries agreed to use all opportunities to promote and strengthen inclusive regional and cross-regional cooperation and dialogue between all relevant stakeholders across the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea on a wide range of issues of mutual interest, such as trade, migration, climate change, food security, peace and security as well as maritime security. In this connection, they agreed to promote regional cooperation, training and capacity building, port security, coastal development as well as blue economy.
The EU underlined the importance of sound economic strategies and long-term political will to sustain the current positive dynamics in the region. In this context, while remaining a strong partner of the region with cooperation programmes currently amounting to over EUR 3 billion, the EU is preparing for further substantial support to economic integration and trade, notably in the context of EU Africa Alliance for investment and jobs.
Background of Al-shabaab
Rationale for Al-shabab Attack in Kenya
The recent al-Shabaab attack on the commercial complex in Nairobi, Kenya was intended to remind the world that the terrorist group is alive and well and a far more important organization than its rival Islamic State in Somalia.
Stefan Löfven voted back in as Swedish prime minister
Source: RT, Thursday January 17, 2019
Qatar donated 68 armored vehicles to Somalia on Thursday, Qatar’s Defense Ministry said.
The armored vehicles, delivered in Mogadishu, will strengthen the Somali state, which is battling an Islamist insurgency, according to Qatar’s military.
The move is also seen as a sign that Doha is pushing for influence in the country with the role of its Gulf rival, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), under strain, Reuters reports.
Somalia, a Horn of Africa country located on key shipping routes, has refused to take sides in the rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, a UAE ally.
However, relations with the UAE have become strained over the UAE’s investments in the breakaway region of Somaliland. In April, Somalia disbanded a UAE program to train some of its troops.
Source: The Guardian, Friday January 18, 2019
Intelligence services in Kenya were warned that al-Shabaab was planning terrorist attacks on high-profile targets in the east African country around Christmas and the new year, western and regional security officials have said.
Officials and other sources told the Guardian the warnings had been passed on several times in recent months, adding that they had been frustrated not to see a greater response from Kenyan authorities.
Security forces cleared the hotel, restaurant and office complex in Nairobi on Wednesday morning after it was attacked the previous day by four gunmen from al-Shabaab, an Islamic extremist organisation based in neighbouring Somalia. The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said 14 civilians were confirmed dead.
Al-Shabaab, which has said its mujahideen were responsible for the assault, has launched a series of terrorist operations in Kenya in recent years. In 2013, the al-Qaida affiliate took over a luxury mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people.
The news of the warnings will embarrass authorities in Kenya, which is seen as a key local counter-terrorist player by the US, UK and other western powers.
One Kenyan intelligence official said information passed on by security partners about planned attacks lacked detail but that the country had been on high alert since November.
Another security source told Associated Press the extremists had confused security officials by changing target locations.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to reporters.
Al-Shabaab has waged a decade-long insurgency to impose its rigorous version of Islamic law on Somalia and, though it has been forced out of major cities, controls much of the anarchic failed state’s southern and central rural areas. In October 2017, an al-Shabaab truck bomb killed more than 500 people in the capital, Mogadishu. The group often attacks restaurants and hotels, using tactics similar to those employed in Nairobi.
Experts said Wednesday’s attack was designed to attract media attention.
“A terror attack is … purely media theatre. The number of casualties is not the primary objective. It is to attack a high-profile target, especially where westerners are going to be so the west is interested,” said Hussein Sheikh-Ali, a former national security adviser in Somalia and chairman of the Hiraal Institute, a Mogadishu-based research centre.
In the last year, al-Shabaab has been the target of an intense campaign of US airstrikes. These have inflicted significant casualties and killed several senior leaders.
“This [recent] Nairobi attack is a response first and foremost to the airstrikes. They are sending a message that the US strikes have not degraded them as the US military and some media have claimed. They are saying ‘we are in business’,” Ali said.
A second factor may be to influence public opinion in Kenya. Kenyan forces are deployed in Somalia as part of multinational efforts to fight al-Shabaab. The Nairobi attack took place on the third anniversary of a huge assault on a Kenyan base in Somalia by militants in which as many as 180 Kenyan soldiers may have died.
Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based expert on al-Shabaab with the NGO International Crisis Group, said the terror group’s propaganda consistently highlighted the Kenyan presence in Somalia, but pointed out that international links meant there was a wider agenda driving the extremists too.
“If the Kenyans withdrew it would remove a big reason why al-Shabaab like to strike Kenya but if you have a group like al-Shabaab which is part of a global jihad movement then they would still find another reason. They see Nairobi with its big western presence as a bastion of the west,” Abdi said.
Kenyan police have foiled several similar al-Shabaab attacks over recent years, though several investigations have shown corruption has allowed extremists to move with ease across the border with Somalia.
The group has some networks in Kenya itself, mainly providing logistic support and recruits. However, attackers are often brought in from Somalia.
Al-Shabaab has its own internal problems, suffering from a lack of funds and manpower that have forced it to impose unpopular taxes on local communities. The movement is riven by factional feuding and faces competition from Islamic State.
Earlier this week, al-Shabaab media reported the group had executed an Isis commander in Somalia.
A Peaceful Transition in Sudan?
The ICG concludes that President Omar al-Bashir is running out of time. Unable to reverse the economic deterioration, he must rely on repression to contain a population increasingly enraged at worsening living conditions. But the harsher his repression, the more probable his relations with the West deteriorate again and the farther the funds necessary to turn around the economy slip from his reach. Bashir may well survive this round of protests. But if he does, it will almost certainly be at the cost of further economic decline, greater popular anger, more protests and even tougher crackdowns. At some point, his departure appears inevitable. Outside powers should do everything possible to prevent violence in the meantime, work for as smooth a transition as possible and find him an exit.
Don’t Let Ethiopia Become the Next Yugoslavia
Similar to the former Yugoslavia, Ethiopia is a federal state with nine units organized along ethnic lines. Empowering ethnic groups through territorial autonomy has been a double-edged sword. While allowing self-government has reduced tensions stemming from the dominance of a particular group, it places ethnic belonging at the center of politics, links it to territory, and therefore risks an eventual increase in ethnic tensions. The Yugoslav scenario offers a cautionary tale.
Red Sea Rivalries
As the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey seek to expand their influence in the Horn of Africa, they are exporting Middle Eastern rivalries to a region that has plenty of its own. The increasingly militarized Red Sea region is likely to remain a dangerous battleground.
Brookings published in January 2019 a linked piece by Zach Vertin titled “Red Sea Rivalries: The Gulf, the Horn & the New Geopolitics of the Red Sea.”
New Saudi Initiative Of ‘Arab And African Coastal States Of The Red Sea And The Gulf Of Aden’ – Analysis
Source: Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
Wednesday January 16, 2019
By Prasanta Kumar Pradha
A meeting of the foreign ministers and representatives of seven coastal countries of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden – Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia – was held in December 2018 in Riyadh. An extremely significant outcome of the meeting was the decision to establish a new entity in the region – the Arab and African Coastal States of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (AARSGA) – to coordinate and cooperate on political, economic, security, cultural and environmental issues.
Concerns among the aforesaid countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden regarding piracy and maritime security is nothing new. There have been several meetings in the past among these countries to discuss the common security challenges facing the region. But the latest Saudi initiative to establish a new entity in order to bring together the countries of the region into a regional framework of cooperation is distinctly new. At the end of the meeting, the then Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir stated that this initiative “is part of the kingdom’s efforts to protect its interests and those of its neighbours.…and to create synergies between the various countries” and added that “the more cooperation and coordination that you have among the countries of this region, the less negative outside influence will be on this region.”1 The meeting and Jubeir’s statement are also reflective of the emergent security and strategic concerns of Saudi Arabia in the region.
The region on the western side of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is critically important for Saudi Arabia. In recent years, Riyadh has made conscious efforts to engage with the countries of this region. Saudi Arabia recently mediated between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending a decades old conflict. It has good ties with Djibouti where it is building a military base. Additionally, Riyadh has the financial power to provide developmental aid and assistance to the African countries.
Saudi Arabia’s outreach to the African side of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden is driven by its desire for security in these waters including safety of the sea lines of communications (SLOCs) in view of threat from piracy and terrorism. At the same time, the growing influence of its regional adversaries such as Turkey, Qatar and Iran in the region has also emerged as a key strategic challenge for Riyadh. Given the strategic location of the region, Riyadh’s engagement has not been proportionately resolute and extensive. Concerned about long strides taken by the rivals in the region, Saudi Arabia seems to have come up with the idea of establishing a new regional entity to protect and promote its national interests.
The Houthis capturing power in Yemen has emerged as a direct national security challenge for Saudi Arabia. To the ultimate trepidation of the Saudis, the Houthis not only have launched rockets towards Riyadh but also have attacked Saudi oil tankers in the Red Sea. The Houthis were in control of the port city of Hodeidah till recently before they withdrew in December 2018 as per the ceasefire agreement with the United Nations. But the situation in Yemen is far from stable. Saudi Arabia has major ports along its Red Sea coast, which are used for trade and commerce.
The continuing presence of Houthis in Yemen close to the waters of the Red Sea is therefore an obvious security threat for Saudi Arabia. In the face of security challenges emanating from Yemen, the safety of the SLOCs in the Red Sea, Strait of Bab el Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden has emerged as an area of priority for Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has alleged that Iran has been supporting the Houthis by providing them with funds, weapons and political support, an allegation that Iran categorically rejects. Iran has often threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in case of any conflict with the Gulf Arabs. Further, as the world’s top oil supplier, and its economy heavily dependent on petroleum sector, any threat to these choke points would directly affect its national economy.
Besides, and as stated earlier, a number of regional contenders of Saudi Arabia have stepped up their engagement with the countries in the region. In recent years, Turkey has expanded its relationship with Sudan. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Sudan in 2017 and both countries have signed a number of agreements including on security, trade and investment. Importantly, as per an agreement, Turkey would be rebuilding the Sudanese port of Suakin on the Red Sea. Both countries have also conducted joint military exercises and Turkey also provides training to the Sudanese police officers. Also, in the Gulf of Aden, Turkey has a strong presence in Somalia with its largest overseas military base located in Mogadishu.
Besides Turkey, Qatar is also strengthening ties with Sudan. For Sudan, Qatar is the most supportive country in the region. Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim has supported Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir who is facing popular protests. Qatar has signed a military agreement with Sudan and is a key investor in the country. Qatar also enjoys immense goodwill as it mediated between Sudan and the Darfur rebels. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had visited Doha in 2017 and again in 2018.
In this backdrop, the recent Saudi initiative is an effort to build bridges across the Red Sea with its western neighbourhood as it faces compounding challenges in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi military operations in Yemen against the Houthi rebels have not yielded desired results. Rather, it has faced global criticism as it has been accused of causing civilian deaths and the ensuing humanitarian crisis in the country. The cracks within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that began with the diplomatic boycott of Qatar in June 2017 also continue to widen. The unity of the GCC, the regional organisation where Saudi Arabia once played the most dominant role, is now under severe stress. Further, Qatar has been strengthening ties with Iran and Turkey – two major regional challengers of Riyadh.
The regional geopolitics is getting redefined post the Qatar crisis: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan on one side, and Qatar, Turkey and Iran on the other. Thus, with the GCC as an organisation divided, Qatar swiftly moving closer to Iran and Turkey, and the Houthis fighting stubbornly in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is looking westward to establish a new regional arrangement. The formation and successful operationalisation of such an entity would likely bring a new dimension to the geopolitics in the region.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.
*About the author: Prasanta Kumar Pradhan is Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
Source: Economist, By T.G. | ADDIS ABABA
Wednesday January 16, 2019
ACROSS THE Horn of Africa evidence is mounting that relations with Gulf countries are growing stronger. Last month representatives from Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia gathered in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, to discuss the creation of a new Red Sea security alliance. Three months earlier the prime ministers of Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace deal that Saudi Arabia helped to broker. In the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a property developer from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is working on the largest and most expensive project of its kind in the city’s history. The UAE has had a military base in Eritrea since 2015 and is building another in Somaliland, a breakaway state in northern Somalia. Saudi Arabia plans to build one in Djibouti. And Qatar and Turkey are refurbishing a port in Sudan. Why?
Like the Gulf, the Horn of Africa is predominantly Muslim, and the regions are also bound together by migration. Economic links were relatively dormant throughout the 1990s. But after food prices spiked in 2008, wealthy Gulf states rushed to buy farmland in Sudan and Ethiopia as a hedge against food insecurity. Between 2000 and 2017 Gulf states invested $13bn in the Horn of Africa, mainly in Sudan and Ethiopia, according to a study by the Clingendael Institute, a think-tank in the Netherlands. For resource-poor Horn countries the economic benefits of Gulf investments are obvious. Both Sudan and Ethiopia suffer from severe shortages of hard currency. One of the first moves of Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, upon taking office in April was to secure $3bn in aid and investments from the UAE, including a $1bn deposit in the country’s central bank. Sudan’s central bank received a deposit of $1.4bn from the UAE in March.In Gulf states, where capital is rarely genuinely private, business tends to serve foreign-policy goals. For Saudi Arabia, renewed interest in the Horn has been primarily driven by competition with Iran. In 2014 it forced both Sudan and Eritrea to cut ties with Iran and eject Iranian diplomats. For the UAE—a logistics and transhipment powerhouse—the growing threat of Somali piracy in the 2000s, followed by the outbreak of war in Yemen in 2015, prompted a new focus on maritime security. Its string of ports and bases along the southern rim of the Arabian peninsula and up the Red Sea is part of a strategy to project influence throughout the region (it uses its base in Eritrea to launch attacks in Yemen). A rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on one side and Qatar and Turkey on the other has also spilled into the Horn. As Turkey has made inroads into the region, by fostering close relations with Somalia’s government and securing contracts for Turkish firms, Gulf states have tried to push it back. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also felt compelled to adopt a more muscular posture abroad as American influence in their backyard has waned.
Closer relations across the Red Sea can also improve intra-African relationships. As well as helping to negotiate the Ethiopian-Eritrean peace, Gulf countries are trying to ease tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over a dam the former is building on the Nile. But the weakness of Horn states brings problems. In Somalia, Emirati cash has exacerbated the struggle between the internationally recognised federal government in Mogadishu and the restive, secessionist regions. Many Ethiopians fret that Abiy has traded the country’s sovereignty for Gulf investment and that, despite trying to remain neutral in Gulf rivalries, Ethiopia now looks as if it is siding with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Its relations with Turkey and Qatar, on the other hand, may be cooling.
Ethiopia: Parties Struggle to Gain Political Advantage
The author argues that the ruling EPRDF parties have lost a unifying political ideology. In the meantime, the author says the EPRDF “is a collection of factions engaged in medieval-like political intrigue in order to become the country’s dominant force.”
Somaliland: Edna Adan University Hospital
The article contains a complimentary segment on the Edna Adan University Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Edna Adan, now 81, was once Somaliland’s foreign minister.
Somalia: The Legacy of Black Hawk Down
Bowden argues that most of the money now being spent by the United States on special forces and drones in an effort to kill members of al-Shabaab could be spent more effectively on rebuilding Somalia and paying salaries of the Somali National Army.
South Sudan: Armed Groups and Mediation
The author concludes that although IGAD was ultimately successful in brokering an agreement among the conflicting parties, the mediation has struggled with major challenges throughout the conflict, including the zero-sum thinking of the warring parties, which remain committed to military solutions and unwillingness to compromise. This has led to the rise of various armed opposition groups in recent years.
Sudan’s popular Protest
The author concludes that while there is no obvious alternative to the continued rule of President Omar al-Bashir, the regime is also out of options.
In the 2019 ranking, African countries with passports having the greatest mobility were Seychelles (tied for number 27) and Mauritius (tied for number 31). These two African countries were followed by many non-African countries until reaching South Africa (tied for number 53), Botswana (number 62), and Namibia (tied for number 68). African countries were concentrated below the global median. African countries having passports with the least mobility were Somalia (tied for number 103), Eritrea (number 100), Sudan (tied for number 99) and South Sudan and Libya (tied for number 97).
The Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report contains a section on Sub-Saharan Africa and on North Africa.
Source: AMISOM, Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday January 10, 2019
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is reconstituting its Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) to enhance safety and security of its troops.
The exercise will also involve reviewing the design and layout to help establish sustainable FOBs which have positive impact on troop protection, logistical costs and combat force effectiveness.
“The threat has continuously changed hence we want better protection for our troops in the frontline. We also need to come up with a standardized FOB layout,” said Maj. Gen. Fidza Dludlu, the AMISOM Head of Mission Support, at a conference for AMISOM sector engineers held in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
The aim of the conference, organized by AMISOM with support of the UK Mission Support Team (UKMST), was to come up with a standardized design and layout for the current and future FOBs.
Maj. Gen. Dludlu explained that the reconstitution of FOBs was part of the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan, which will see the AU Mission further reduce its troops by 1000 this year.
According to AMISOM, the exercise might require the handing over of some of the military bases to the Somali national security forces as part of the transfer of security responsibility to federal government.
“Our focus is to support the Somali Transition Plan. This may need us to handover some FOBs or collapse or create new ones,” Gen. Dludlu added.
Gen. Dludlu appealed to the officers to put aside their different military doctrines and come up with a standard structure, which will guarantee troop safety and increase efficiency in FOBs.
The military component in AMISOM is comprised of troops drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia who are deployed in six sectors covering south and central Somalia.
AMISOM Force Engineer, Col. Olugbemi Adeboye Obasanjo, noted that the safety and security of AMISOM troops is paramount to the fulfilment of the AU Mission’s mandate.
“We have to first of all ensure that our troops are secure and safe from where they can launch offensive operations, do their patrols and carry out any other operations in fulfilment of AMISOM mandate,” Col. Obasanjo stated.
The two-day conference, which ended today, also discussed other security issues among them threat assessment and field defense stores among others.
Source: Daily Nation, Kenya, Thursday January 10, 2019
The United Kingdom has joined Russia and the United Arab Emirates in the scramble to set up military bases in Somaliland.
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at the weekend met President Mouse Bihi in Hargeysa, and discussed ways on strengthening the relationship between the two countries.
Somaliland, a former British colony, is yet to be recognised internationally.
The Somaliland embassy in Nairobi, neither denied not confirmed reports that Britain was seeking to set up a military base in the horn of Africa country. Somaliland Ambassador to Kenya Omar Bashe said his country was excited over Mr Williamson’s visit which, he said, would help the country’s push for international recognition after breaking away from Somalia.
Mr Bashe said Mr Williamson’s visit was a clear indicator that the international community recognises the importance of Somaliland.
The visit comes barely a week after Mr Williamson said the UK was keen on building new military bases around the world after Brexit. It is believed his visit to Somaliland sought to discuss the possibilities of setting up a base in the country.
“For so long – literally for decades – so much of our national view point has been dominated by the discussion about the European Union. This is our moment to be that true global player once more – and I think the armed forces play a really important role,” said Mr Williamson.
Mr Williamson, who last week visited the British army in Kenya, said that Brexit would allow the UK to change the 1960s policy of withdrawal from regions ‘east of Suez.’
Britain joins Russia which last April announced its intention to set up a naval base in Saylac, Somaliland.
A Russian delegation held talks with Somaliland government for a 1,500 man base to support its warships and hunter-killer submarines to operate in the volatile region and busy shipping lanes that carry most of Europe’s goods.
The United Arab Emirates is also building a military base in Berbera. The UAE base, which will begin operating by June, includes a coastal-surveillance system.
The UAE is growing its military presence in the Horn of Africa to protect trade flows through the Bab el-Mandeb, a key shipping lane used by oil tankers and other cargo vessels en route to the Suez Canal. Emirati footholds in Somaliland and Eritrea provide strategic locations as the UAE supports the Saudi Arabia-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.