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Security Brief: AFRICOM & CTSC Week of January 10, 2022

Week of Monday, January 10, 2022 | Issue 1

Ashliyn Burgos, Faye Lax, AFRICOM;

Brianna Corrie, Charley Gleeson, Christie Hui, Counter Threat Strategic Communications (CTSC) Team


National Consultative Council (NCC) Meeting[1]


Date: January 12, 2022

Location: Somalia

Parties involved: National Consultative Council (NCC); United Nations (UN); Somali politicians; Somali citizens; Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmaajo; Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble

The event: Somalia has been facing political instability since President Farmaajo and Prime Minister Roble had a conflict about elections. After the NCC signed an agreement that Lower House elections would take place on February 25, 2022, the US threatened to take action, including travel bans, against Somali leaders who are derailing the election process by delaying it. The US is urging Somali leaders to follow the new deadline.[2] The UN currently plans to provide close to $1.5 billion USD through the Humanitarian Response Plan, Central Emergency Response Fund, and Somalia Humanitarian Fund.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Somali citizens are likely to feel resentment towards international leaders that they likely believe are infringing on their sovereignty by trying to influence Somali elections. Foreign involvement in Somalia’s elections will likely lead to further political dissent and internal instability, likely increasing Somali grievances towards the democratic political system. These grievances will likely increase support for extremist organizations that oppose the Somali government such as Al Shabaab.

  • Derailing elections will likely lead to political instability and potentially violent protests, which will likely cause the UN to discontinue humanitarian aid and withdraw UN troops. The US will likely impose sanctions on Somalia to ensure that politicians address the issues surrounding the timeline and integrity of the election process.

Date: January 12, 2022

Location: Nigeria

Parties involved: Nigerian government; Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari; Twitter; Nigerian citizens

The event: Nigerian authorities lifted a suspension on Twitter, which had been in place since June 2021, after the company agreed to several conditions, including opening a local office and "managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian law.”[4] The Twitter suspension was announced in 2021, two days after Nigerian President Muhammadu Bahari was temporarily suspended from the platform for a tweet widely perceived as offensive and threatening. Nigerian authorities cited that the platform was banned because it enabled activities “capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence."[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • As the government lifted the ban only after Twitter agreed to conditions outlined by the Nigerian government, Nigerians will still likely feel limited in their freedom of speech and access to information. There is a roughly even chance that Nigerian citizens will protest against perceived restrictions on freedom of expression. Protests will likely lead to further civil unrest and attract international attention, which is very likely to negatively affect the Nigerian government’s international image.

  • The Nigerian government likely perceived President Buhari’s Twitter suspension as an undermining of his authority. The suspension almost certainly caused friction between Twitter and the Nigerian government and will likely lead to increased government scrutiny of social media platforms influencing Nigerian politics. The Nigerian government will very likely contest any further restrictions on government Twitter accounts.

Date: January 14, 2022

Location: Ethiopia

Parties involved: Ethiopian government; World Health Organization (WHO); WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF)

The event: The Ethiopian government released a statement about the WHO Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stating that he had shown “misconduct” in criticizing the Ethiopian government about the war in the country and humanitarian crises.[6] The statement said that the WHO chief “spread harmful misinformation and compromised WHO's reputation, independence, and credibility.” In the past, Tedros has stated that humanitarian aid has been restricted in the Tigray region due to ongoing conflicts.[7] Tedros was the foreign minister and health minister of Ethiopia when the TPLF held the majority coalition.[8]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The friction between the Ethiopian government and the WHO will likely lead the Ethiopian government to decline aid from international humanitarian aid organizations. The Ethiopian government will likely promote disinformation campaigns discrediting the WHO and likely refuse assistance from the WHO in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The TPLF will likely leverage the Ethiopian government's refusal to accept aid for the region as propaganda to garner domestic and international support .

  • The Ethiopian government will likely perceive Tedros to be biased against them due to his previous affiliation with the TPLF. The Ethiopian government will likely perceive this bias as Tedros using his platform to spread anti-Ethiopian government messages.

  • By claiming misconduct on behalf of the WHO chief, the Ethiopian government is unlikely to follow the guidelines produced by the organization, including public health advice. The relationship between the Ethiopian government and the WHO will likely impact how Ethiopians react to the information from the WHO, likely impacting the government’s response to COVID-19. This will likely cause the Ethiopian government to find other avenues to obtain humanitarian aid, such as China.

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[1] UN Special Representative meets with the NCC, Twitter, January 2022, https://twitter.com/UNSomalia/status/1478373585584627718

[2] US threatens to take action against Somali leaders sabotaging elections, Garowe, January 2022, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/us-threatens-to-take-action-against-somalia-leaders-sabotaging-elections

[3] 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan - Somalia, United Nations, December 2021, https://somalia.un.org/en/166074-2022-humanitarian-response-plan-somalia

[4] Nigeria to lift Twitter ban after six-month suspension, CNN, January 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/12/africa/nigeria-lifts-twitter-ban-intl/index.html

[5] Ibid

[6] Ethiopia accuses WHO chief, Tedros of alleged "misconduct," AfricaNews, January 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/01/14/ethiopia-accuses-who-chief-tedros-of-alleged-misconduct/

[7] WHO chief says his home region in Ethiopia under 'systematic' blockade, Reuters, November 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/who-chief-says-his-home-region-ethiopia-under-systematic-blockade-2021-11-12/

[8] Ethiopia accuses WHO chief, Tedros of alleged "misconduct," AfricaNews, January 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/01/14/ethiopia-accuses-who-chief-tedros-of-alleged-misconduct/

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