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Security Council 2018 – Preventing Terrorism and Extremism in the Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa, consisting of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan, has become a major source of concern for the UN Security Council. The identified areas have become an arena for indigenous and international terrorism. In addition to the increase in terrorism, there are many internal and regional conflicts that plagues the Horn.

The nature of the terrorism can be organized into three main types: 1. The acts are perpetrated by terrorist organizations based outside the region, 2. Those started by an internal insurgent group against authority in a single country, and 3. Those led by an organization within the region but targeting a nearby or neighbouring country.

It is important to note that each of the member states in the Horn of Africa has its particular struggles in the war against terrorism. For example, Somalia has served as a short-term transit point through the corrupt border into Kenya, which has become a highly-concentrated site for terrorist attacks. Whereas, Eritrea’s presence in the “coalition of the willing” threatens to divide between moderate and radical Eritrean Muslims due to the regimes use of “war against terrorism” to reject dissent.

The underlying causes of terrorism tie back to the ongoing conflict in the Horn. The root causes are complex and numerous and include ethnic, language and cultural differences, religion, ideology, arbitrary boundaries, unequal sharing of resources controlled by the state, competition for scarce resources including water and food, and the battle for power.

However, it is crucial to understand that not all the local groups that used terrorist tactics are linked to Islam. Indigenous organizations such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Allied Democratic Front (ADF) in Uganda and the Ogadeni National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in Ethiopia have become prevalent in attacks as well. That being stated, the counties within the Horn have a large Islamic population or a significant Muslim minority. The vast majority of people have no interest in Islamic fundamentalism, but that does not stop extremist organizations such as Al-Qaeda to recruit from these vulnerable populations.

Major Issues to for SC 2018 to Address:

  1. In order to prevent terrorism in the Horn of Africa while countering violent extremism, does the effort need to be at an international, national, regional and/or sub-regional levels?
  2. Do anti-terrorism strategies fall responsible on individual member states or are there necessary collaborations with other member states in implementing these strategies?


Map of the Horn of Africa: