“It is harder to build peace than it is to destroy it.”
There has been a decline in the global peace according to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) due to violence and conflict which has increased in the Middle East as well as Africa in the past decade. The Institute warns that the alarming conflicts are costing the global economy trillions of dollars every year. Mr. Steve Killelea, head of IEP, mentions the reason for the gradual decline in peacefulness is due to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa which has a spillover effect on other areas. He warns of the descent into violence which is much easier compared to establishing peace in any case scenario. The 2018 Global Peace Index released early this month also reveals the world to be at a less peaceful state; compared to other times due to tensions, conflicts, and crises that have emerged in the last decades that are still unresolved up to date with violence costing the world $ 14.6 trillion. Two of the least peaceful countries are in Africa according to the reports.
On 6th June 2018, The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that will focus on the increased representation of young people in efforts to prevent conflict, spur negotiations to end the fighting and foster peaceful agreements. The resolution on Youth, Peace, and Security sponsored by Sweden and Peru recognizes the role of youth in promoting a culture of peace, tolerance, intercultural and interreligious dialogue with the aim of discouraging their participation in acts of violence, xenophobia, terrorism and all forms of discrimination. It talks about the importance of building sustainable peace and countering violent extremism by encouraging youth and women participation. The greatest concerned expressed is the increased use of the internet by terrorists and their sympathizers to recruit and incite young people into committing terrorist acts.
Violence Early Warning System (ViEWS) which is a political Violence Early warning System at Uppsala University, is developing an early warning system database that will be publicly available to researchers as well as the International Community. They released the first public forecasts for Africa on 7th June 2018. The system suggests a continued high risk of conflict in Somalia, Nigeria and other countries in Central Africa. Recent violence in places like Kenya is forecasted to recede.
Reports have emerged stating that several ISIS militants were captured and publicly executed in a small town of Maas by Al-Shabaab operatives due to a perceived subversion by the ISIS militants with rumors of a grand plot to depose Al-Shabaab leader Abu Ubeidha. The grand plan by ISIS as reported is to eventually merge the two organizations through an alliance between ISIS top leadership with Al-Shabaab’s Military wing leader as one of Ubeidha’s two deputies Maalim Osman, in a bid to become the new emir. This comes to light even as cracks intensify as Al-Shabaab leader fights illness as identified in our previous security reviews. A captured defector confessed to torture and execution of militants from both sides and Al-Shabaab militants with Kenyan origins opting to join ISIS following accusations of espionage by the latter. Massive casualties will be incurred on both sides as the conflict escalates.
This security review covers events that happened during the whole month, in the Greater Horn of Africa countries in summary. Click here to read the complete security review.
In June, there have been 80 deaths 47 being militants, 20 law enforcement 13 civilians. From the various attacks that took place, a total of 174 people were injured, 1 being a militant, 17 being law enforcement and 156 civilians. Increase in the number of civilians injured is due to a grenade attack in Ethiopia during a rally. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility to most of the incidences while giving conflicting figures with those reported by law enforcement. 27 militants were killed by an airstrike which has proved to be an effective method of eliminating the extremist group.
On a positive note, the U.S military vowed to enhance the fight against terrorism posed by Al-Qaeda and its affiliate. Al-Shabaab as well as any threat posed by ISIS in Somalia despite the killings of its soldier.
In June 2017, one year ago, the International Crisis Group warned that the ongoing geopolitical fight present between the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf states of Qatar would threaten to destabilize Somalia further. Recommendations to prevent the Gulf crisis from sabotaging local and international efforts include; calls for the Somali government to remain neutral in the Gulf crises, the federal government reconciliation with its rivals, UAE should coordinate with Mogadishu on all aid and investment in Somalia and Saudi or European officials’ facilitation to reconcile Abu Dhabi and Mogadishu.
It has been noted that militants have started blocking humanitarian assistance from reaching vulnerable populations by attacking vehicles and animals that are delivering goods and surplus to the affected regions. The militants have managed to isolate Waqjid, Hudur and other towns in Bakool hence causing distress to the affected communities. This is a tactic that the militants are using depending on what they want to achieve. For instance, reports emerged of how Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia extorted huge sums from starving communities who had received any food or medical aid from the AMISOM troops or humanitarian organizations due to financial pressures, a decrease in their numbers and a crisis of morale that was being experienced in the terror group. On the other hand, by Al-Shabaab adopting the responsibility of humanitarian organizations, this will enable them to get more sympathizers in the regions affected hence have the upper hand in their activities as they will be protected or shielded from the government proving to be difficult in the fight against terrorism.
A report from World Vision published on 6th June 2018, that launched an important study jointly developed by the UN and the World Bank, was based on extensive research of what has worked in different countries. Recommendations for how development processes can better interact with issues to deal with diplomacy, security, mediation and any other efforts to prevent conflicts from becoming violent. Central to these efforts was the need to include women and youth as they play a major role in countering or preventing violent extremism. Development programs are riddled with problems as they fail to ensure that participants are actually at risk of radicalization while others foster wasteful spending on activities that have no links to the problem. Apart from failures from development-led efforts to mitigate violent extremism, another burning issue is the degree to which humanitarian actors are contributing to conflict.
Children at a very young age are trained by terrorists, and it has been depicted via mainstream and social media. The strategy of exploiting young brains is to feed them with hatred of all kinds and manipulate them however they want, and due to this, children have been wasted in wars as soldiers, spies or suicide bombers. Various push and pull factors such as desperation, inequality, injustice, discrimination or foreign policy has forced them to join extremist groups or through abductions. However, equal and an all-inclusive education if provided appropriately can be used to counter some of these challenges.
There have been reports of the rift that is present between ISIS and Al-Shabaab due to mistrust among its members. Infighting and accusations have also been witnessed with killings of many fighters on suspicions of spying as well as declaring allegiance to ISIS. This confusion has seen vast young fighters surrender and pledged their allegiance to the Government. The squabbles have further enabled the AMISOM troops to counter the militants by several of their combats failing thus losing their territories.
Finally, in an article titled “Development programs can help reduce political violence”, Dafna H. Rand And Beza Tesfaye of Mercy Corps commend Jessica Trisko Darden on her article, “War On The Rocks” ,pushing those seeking to counter VE to be more self-reflective and ensure the programs do not exacerbate the issues they seek to address.