Ethiopia

Overview:  The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) continued to partner with the United States on counterterrorism issues in 2022, though in a diminished capacity because of assistance restrictions brought on by concerns about human rights abuses.  Al-Shabaab and ISIS terrorist threats emanating from Somalia remained a high priority for the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).  Armed groups espousing ethnonationalist causes were the greatest and most persistent domestic violent extremist threats.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  Al-Shabaab attacked the town of Hulhul in Somali region on July 21.  Al-Shabaab subsequently attempted a second attack at Ferfer in Somali region on July 25.  In both incidents, regional security forces repelled the terrorists.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  In November, NISS and its counterpart in Somalia signed an MOU to carry out coordinated information exchange and joint operations to prevent al-Shabaab, a threat in the Horn of Africa, from carrying out terrorist activities.  That same month, NISS signed an agreement with the Sudanese General Intelligence Service in which “the two parties agree to cooperate in the field of joint training and sharing of experiences, enhance joint efforts in combating terrorism, organized crime and transient economic crimes, and address the issues of the nationals of the two countries.”

Al-Shabaab attacked two villages inside Ethiopia after attacking regional security force encampments inside Somalia in July.  Following the attacks, there were unconfirmed reports of a significant number of Ethiopian Federal Police entering Somalia to establish a security buffer zone, which allegedly was maintained until at least October.  The Federal Police were also reported to have coordinated this activity with the Somali National Army and local clan militia groups opposed to al-Shabaab.  The force reportedly has long been present in Somalia’s southwestern Bakool region.

The GOE’s counterterrorism (CT) capacity decreased in 2022 as resources were reassigned to other domestic priorities.  However, the government continued to deploy CT units along Ethiopia’s borders with Kenya and Somalia.  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) completed an airport and air carrier assessment in February, which indicated that half of the vulnerabilities identified in previous inspections had been addressed.  TSA’s priority for 2022 was to provide capacity development training and aviation security mentorship to Ethiopia security stakeholders to mitigate remaining security vulnerabilities.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Ethiopia is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group.  Its FIU, the Ethiopian Financial Intelligence Center, is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The GOE’s CVE strategy focuses on reducing poverty and ethnic strife to eliminate factors that drive recruitment by al-Shabaab.  The GOE remains engaged in local mediation and conflict mitigation strategies to defuse ethnic and religious tensions, especially in Afar, Oromia, Somali, and Tigray Regions, and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region.

International and Regional Cooperation:  U.S. security engagement with the GOE has normally involved combating terrorist threats, particularly those posed by al-Shabaab and Violent Extremist Organizations associated with ISIS.  Because of concerns related to human rights, most assistance (including security assistance) for Ethiopia is restricted.

In December the Ethiopian Federal Police and its Somali counterpart signed a cooperation agreement.  The agreement is intended to enable the two institutions to work jointly on transnational crimes, particularly through the prevention of terrorism, human trafficking, and arms smuggling.  The agreement also provides opportunities to Somalia Police officers to attend training at the Ethiopian Police University.

Ethiopia is one of the top-five largest troop- and police-contributing countries in UN and AU peacekeeping, though its contributions are declining.  At the beginning of 2022, Ethiopia deployed around 3,500 troops for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia but recalled an unknown number to reinforce units engaged in the conflict in northern Ethiopia.  Roughly 1,500 Ethiopian peacekeepers are deployed in support of the UN Mission in South Sudan.  Ethiopia also participates in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its CT programs and training, including the IGAD Security Sector Program, which builds regional capacity to mitigate, detect, and deter terrorist activity.

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