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East African States see rising threat from Militant Group al-Shabab

Bryden traces the roots of al-Shabab back to 2009 when the group was a purely Somali organization but was also attracting many foreign adherents, in particular, Swahili speakers

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Maleeshiyada Al-shabaab. Image source: VOA

Once a threat primarily in Somalia, the militant group al-Shabab has grown and expanded its aspirations, operations, and aims, and is preparing to wage a long war in East Africa, according to analysts and experts on the region.

East Africa’s Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which works for peace, prosperity and regional integration among its eight member states, declared this week that al-Shabab is now a “transnational” organization projecting threats of extremist violence far beyond Somalia.

“Even if al-Shabab were to be defeated tomorrow I think it has inspired a generation of jihadists from across the region, from different countries, who are likely to continue,” says Matt Bryden, a director and senior analyst for the Sahan Foundation, which conducted IGAD’s regional study on al-Shabab.

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“Al-Shabab is clearly no longer an exclusively Somali problem, and requires a concerted international response,” the IGAD report said, noting that al-Shabab is active is six countries of the region – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Bryden traces the roots of al-Shabab back to 2009 when the group was a purely Somali organization but was also attracting many foreign adherents, in particular, Swahili speakers.

Matt Bryden. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Matt Bryden. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

“In East Africa, among Swahili-speaking populations, this goes beyond al-Shabab as a Somali organization sending agents to operate in neighboring countries,” says Bryden. “Al-Shabab’s propaganda is now heavily populated with radio, video, and articles in Kiswahili. It’s clearly targeting recruits in East Africa.”

Abdirahman Sahal, director of a Mogadishu-based center on extremism, agrees with Bryden that al-Shabab laid the foundation for this regional struggle a long time ago. But he says what helped most is that the organization controlled territory in Somalia where it was able to attract foreign fighters, prepare them and send them back to their countries of origin.

“They rule land, they collect tax, they have roots. Therefore they are in a position to invite others [and] open institutions to train them,” he said.

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Al-Shabab has staged attacks in Kenya, Uganda, and Djibouti and made at least two attempts to strike inside Ethiopia. And the IGAD report emphasizes that the scope of the threat the group poses throughout East Africa has only increased.

Sahal says al-Shabab’s operational capabilities are a key factor. “They only need one or two people to attack a key place, to blow themselves up,” he noted.

If the threat from al-Shabab is to be countered, Sahal said, regional countries have to attack the group’s bases inside Somalia, where plots are orchestrated.

“Seizing their bases disrupts their administration and sources of revenue. They will be busy as fugitives, hiding, and cannot execute all the plots inside and outside the country,” he said.

“But as long as they have space where they can drive their cars, live normally and administer their organizational functions, it will be easy for them to attack.”

IGAD came to the same conclusion, that it needs to counter al-Shabab both inside and outside Somalia. But whether the countries of the region can exert more pressure on al-Shabab inside Somalia, by cooperating at a level they have not achieved during the past nine years, remains to be seen.

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    The Al-Shabab militant group is now no longer a small terror organisation operating from Somalia. It has also fixed its roots in neighbouring countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and other such East-African states. If it is not kept under check it would become the new ISIS.

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Apple’s App Store All Set to Reach 20 New Countries This Year

Apple is advising developers to complete these steps by April 10, 2020 to ensure that their apps will roll out smoothly

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According to the company, developers who want their apps to appear in the new countries must accept the Program License Agreement on the Apple Developer Website and then choosing the "New Countries or Regions" checkbox in the Pricing and Availability section of the app information page. Pixabay

Cupertino-based tech giant Apple has announced that the App Store is set to reach 20 new countries this year.

“Today, the App Store gives you the opportunity to connect with users in 155 countries or regions. We’re pleased to announce that the App Store will expand even farther this year with upcoming support for 20 new countries, allowing you to increase your impact and grow your business in new markets,” the company said in a statement.

The new countries include Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivorie, Gabon, Georgia, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, Maldives, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nauru, Rwanda, Serbia, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Zambia.

Apple
Cupertino-based tech giant Apple has announced that the App Store is set to reach 20 new countries this year. Pixabay

According to the company, developers who want their apps to appear in the new countries must accept the Program License Agreement on the Apple Developer Website and then choosing the “New Countries or Regions” checkbox in the Pricing and Availability section of the app information page.

Apple is advising developers to complete these steps by April 10, 2020 to ensure that their apps will roll out smoothly.

ALSO READ: YouTube Reduces Video Streaming Quality For Indian Users Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

“Completing these steps by April 10, 2020 will help make sure your app is ready to be published as content initially becomes available across new locations. We’ll let you know when you can choose from specific new countries and update the default subscription pricing for these locations,” the company said. (IANS)