The Horn of Africa is the most preferable and strategic location that can potentially win world confidence to buttress investment, trade and relationships for common good.
However, it has highly been susceptible to turbulence, and becomes a volatile region in the continent. For instance, it is a source, transit, and destination of a wide range of emerging, evolving, and existing common transnational security threats (TSTs). Terrorism is at the frontline threatening region peace and security.
The region has been regarded as a major source of terrorism since long back. For instance, following the 9-11attacks against the United States, the horn has come under increased scrutiny as a strategic focal point in the war against terrorism.
The Horn countries are now in transition towards peace process. Ethiopia’s political reform process has continued under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed since he took office in April 2018 and facilitated even greater counterterrorism. The continuing threat of Al-Shabaab and ISIS emanating from Somalia is Ethiopia’s core terrorism concern and the focal point of its security apparatus.
Following the reform, the existing law and order regulations are amended to help maintain peace and security of the nation and beyond. Ethiopia amended the anti-terrorism proclamation aimed at fighting against terrorism and securing peace. The government amended the antiterrorism proclamation in line with the broader opening of political landscape in the country.
The country has attempted to improve its cooperation with neighboring countries such as Kenya and Somalia to combat elements threatening peace. Ethiopia participates in the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) programs and trainings, including the IGAD Security Sector Program, which builds regional capacity to mitigate, detect, and deter terrorist activities.
In multilateral efforts against terrorism, the country generally supports international directives that seek to stem terrorism. IGAD, recognizing that terrorism is a transnational issue, continued to encourage the cross-border dissemination of information concerning terrorist activity.
IGAD Security Sector Program Director (SSP) Commander Abebe Muluneh told The Ethiopian Herald that terrorism, violent extremism, and political violence are global challenges that have pushed nations to search for strategic interventions.
As to him, no country in the world is immune of the threat of terrorism, violent extremism, and political violence, it is real, pervasive, and multifaceted, but it should be carefully assessed to ensure that it is neither exaggerated nor underestimated.
In principle, states do have the obligation and primary responsibility to prevent and combat terrorism, violent extremism, and political violence, as well as to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. In doing so, the state needs to draw on the support of society in general, especially the media, to successfully counter these phenomena.
Ethiopia has suffered from a significant share of terror, violent extremism, and political violence including the current brutal massacre and mass killings at Mai Kadra, Guraferda, Guliso, among others.
What we are witnessing in Ethiopia is that most of the terror attacks are targeting ethnic groups aiming at inciting conflict among nations. It is deeply saddened that in most cases the Amhara, the Oromo, Afar, Somali people, among others, are targeted and victimized because of the senseless narrative produced by the bedeviled ideology of TPLF.
It is difficult to overstate the fraught complexity of the relationship between terrorism, violent extremism, political violence and the media. Perhaps no other issue has been characterized by such prolific wall-to-wall coverage in recent years, and perhaps no other thing has so challenged media professionals to maintain journalistic ethics and balance in their reporting than this one.
Meanwhile, the tremendous pressure being exerted on media to attract audiences in the face of ongoing waves of technological and financial transformations can create powerful temptation to focus on the violent and sensational, and be the first to report breaking information and rumors, even before accuracy can be assured.
Terrorism, violent extremism, and political violence and the fight against those threats have become major elements of domestic and international politics, with the media firmly on the front lines, especially when attacks target civilians.
In some nations, citizens expect the media to inform them as completely as possible without going overboard or restoring to sensationalism. The authorities call for restraint by evoking the risks of excessive coverage for integrity of operations or the claim of the population.
Terrorist attacks are often carefully choreographed to attract the attention of the electronic media and the international press. The quality of terrorism, violent extremism, and political violence media coverage depends on many factors. It is determined, among other things, by the degree of freedom of the press, the economic resources available to the media, cultural factors and singular conceptions of ethics and the social role of media.
By the rigorous handling of information, their symbolic crisis management, their self-control, gravity, and empathy, the media and specially TV, radio, other social media outlets can also reassure public opinion. Their tone, choice of words and image not only help to avoid panic, but also prevent retaliation against individuals or groups linked in the minds of the public to the perpetrators of the attacks.
The press must act as a beacon of the media sphere. The proliferation of social media and the dawn of continuous stream of information have made it an absolute necessity to check, filter, and interpret these information flows, which circulate amidst of chaotic jumble of rumor, extrapolation, speculation, and trolling.
Terrorism, violent extremism, and political violence particularly puts the classical pillars of journalistic ethics to test such as the pursuit of truth, independence, responsibility to others, and transparency. Besides, journalists have to know the basic requirements to cover crisis
situation like the duty of knowledge, facing the law, relation with authorities, framing the crisis, guaranteeing the rule of law and human rights, confronting fear, inclusiveness, and thinking globally.
IGAD Security Sector Program (SSP) Counter Terrorism Research Analyst Abebaw Bihonegn said that the region has faced major regional and international terrorist threats come from Al-Shabab and IS IS Dae’sh group.
The Horn of Africa has gained notoriety as a breeding ground for violent extremism. Although the rise of Al-Shabab and the recurrent terrorist attacks in Somalia and Kenya have dominated news headlines and international counterterrorist efforts, other countries in the region have been continuously affected by extreme forms of violence.
Terrorist groups have their own motivation, but individuals join for several reasons. High ranking leaders in the terrorist group usually are driven by ideological motivations and others may join for several economic and political grievances, false promises, unemployment, marginalization or others.
Almost all of the horn of African countries are witnessed attack form those groups. Comparing to other states in the IGAD member states Ethiopia is relatively saved from the attempt by those extremists.
Ethiopia is also among the primary target of those regional security threats. Many attempts are foiled by the Ethiopian national intelligence and security sectors. Despite several attempts, all are foiled. For instance the attempt by Al-Shabab to bomb a football stadium in Addis Ababa in 2013 and plan to bomb a shopping mall in 2014 was aborted.
Peoples from different parts of the world join Al-Shabab terrorist group for their political purpose. IGAD is continuously working to address the challenges come from the terrorist group individually and collectively. The challenges are transnational problems and countries have to work together against the problems.
IGAD Peace and Security has a strategy from 2016-2020 comprehensive and integrated approach towards addressing such transnational crimes, terrorism, radicalization, violent extremism money laundering, human trafficking, and other forms of organized crimes as regional security challenges.
For the successfulness of the strategy different mechanisms were setup like early warning, preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism, mediation support unit etc. Here, enhancing member states security capacity is of significantly useful in effectively addressing transnational peace and tranquility threats.
The Ethiopian herald December 23/2020