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Reasons Why You Feel So Emotional All the Time

6 Psychological Reasons Why You Feel So Emotional All the Time

#1: Unchecked expectations

Shakir Essa 10/17/2020 · 10 min read

Shakir essa
Shakir Essa

Why am I so emotional? has to be one of the most frequently asked questions I hear as a psychologist.

But it’s a tricky question to answer, primarily for two reasons:

  1. Many different factors affect how we feel emotionally. Everything from your genetics and attachment style to what you ate for breakfast and how much sleep you got last night play some role in how you feel emotionally.
  2. There’s no clear standard for how much emotion is “normal.” For example: There’s no rule book that says feeling 6 out of 10 anger is normal, but 8 out of 10 anger is abnormal. Or that feeling angry for a few minutes is normal but feeling it for a few hours is abnormal.

Still, many people do experience higher and more prolonged levels of painful emotion than they need to. And while this excessive emotionality is sometimes due to factors outside their control, frequently that’s not the case.

Often it’s subtle psychological factors that are the real cause of feeling too emotional.

This is good news because, in general, a lot of your psychology is under your control — unlike your genes or what your parents did to you as a child.

What follows is a collection of subtle but powerful psychological causes of excessive emotionality. If you can learn to identify these in your own life, there’s a good chance you can use that knowledge to regulate your emotions more effectively and feel a little more emotionally balanced as a result.

1. Unchecked expectations

Expectations are beliefs about how other people or things in the world should behave or turn out.

There are two major problems with expectations, both of which often lead to heightened levels of emotion:

  1. They’re rarely updated as often as they should be. Suppose you have an expectation of yourself that you do A+ work all the time. While this may have been (sort of) reasonable as a very bright student in a pretty easy school setting when you were 16, it may not be all that reasonable now that you’re a 45-year-old working professional with a mortgage, 4 kids, and sick parents. In other words, your expectation of stellar work all the time is the driving force behind your perfectionism. And your perfectionism is probably driving a lot of excess anxietystress, and self-criticism.
  2. We often use expectations as a defense mechanism. When you believe that something (or someone) should be or act a certain way, it can give a false sense of certainty and control about things that are fundamentally not under your control (and therefore, anxiety-producing). For example: Is your expectation that your children get straight As in school really about your kids’ best interest or is it more about alleviating your anxiety and guilt about not being around your kids enough and this having negative effects on them? The illusion of control and certainty that comes from expectations can make us feel better in the moment. But long term it tends to make us feel worse because it’s a form of denial.

There’s a time and place for expectations. But here’s the thing: If you never check in on your expectations, update them, or investigate what function they’re really serving, they can easily lead to a lot of unnecessary emotional pain and distress.

The trick is to make sure that you are being thoughtful and intentional with your expectations.

Make a time to check in with your expectations for key people and relationships in your life and adjust them to be as realistic and helpful as possible.

2. Worry

When people say they feel so emotional, one of the most common forms is feeling too anxious.

But here’s the thing many people don’t understand about anxiety:

Anxiety doesn’t just happen. It’s created and maintained by the mental habit of worrying.

This distinction between the anxiety you feel and the worry that leads to it is crucial. Because if you want to feel less anxious, the only real solution is to learn to manage your worry habit better.

Ultimately, worry is a form of thinking — a version of negative self-talk, to be more specific. It involves trying to problem-solve things in the future that either A) aren’t really problems, or B) you aren’t capable of solving.

Like all other emotions, anxiety is not something you can influence directly. You can’t decide to be less anxious any more than you can decide to be happier. Emotions don’t work that way.

We can only influence our emotions indirectly, primarily through the way we think.

If you’re constantly worrying about the future, you’re going to constantly feel much more anxious than you need to. On the other hand, if you can reduce your habit of worrying by just 20 or 30%, you’ll take a major chunk out of your excessive feelings of anxiety.

If you often feel too anxious, it’s because you’re worrying too much. The trick is to validate the anxiety and take control of the worry.

3. Rumination

Rumination is the flip-side of worry. When we worry, we engage in unhelpful thinking and problem solving about the future using our imagination. When we ruminate, we think unproductively about the past using our memory.

For example:

  • You get home from work and try to engage with your spouse or play with your kids, but you keep going over and over that nasty comment your manager made to you during a meeting at work.
  • After a fight with your girlfriend, you replay the fight repeatedly and search your memory for all the examples in your past where she’s been just as guilty of the thing she’s criticizing you for.

Like, worry, rumination often feels good or helpful because it feels like you’re doing work and solving problems. But in reality, you can’t control the past any more than you can control the future.

When you get stuck in a habit of rumination, it only fuels your anger and shame in the long run. And as a result, keeps you feeling more emotionally volatile.

Also like worry, rumination tends to be compulsive because — very briefly — it makes us feel good. It gives us a sense of control that temporarily alleviates our anxieties or insecurities.

  • Rather than accepting the fact that your manager doesn’t really like you, you temporarily make yourself feel better by analyzing the situation over and over to try and find out what you could have done or said that would have made things better.
  • Rather than exploring the possibility that maybe your girlfriend was right to criticize you, you distract yourself from your feelings of shame by getting defensive and angry and making her out to be the bad gal.

Now, this doesn’t mean thinking about the past can’t be helpful sometimes. To the contrary, calmly and objectively reflecting back on our past can be enormously helpful and productive.

So how do you know if you’re doing unhelpful rumination or helpful reflection?

The best indicator I’ve found to distinguish helpful reflection from unhelpful rumination is intentionality. When we get stuck in cycles of unhelpful rumination, it’s typically a relatively mindless and reactive process — we just find ourselves rumination. On the other hand, genuine reflection is usually very intentional — it’s initiated deliberately and thoughtfully.

Finally, helpful reflection is always aimed at understanding not feeling.

So ask yourself:

Am I dwelling on the past to genuinely understand something better, or am I doing this to make myself feel better or avoid dealing with some other uncomfortable situation or reality?

4. Waiting for motivation

Most people look at motivation as fuel — when you feel good enough, inspired enough, or motivated enough, it gives you the energy to do things:

  • If you feel energetic enough, you go for a run.
  • If you feel inspired enough, you work on that creative project.
  • If you feel motivated enough, you write a new blog post.

And while there’s certainly some truth to this idea that feeling good helps us take action, when viewed in isolation, it’s actually dangerous.

Feeling good does make it easier to do hard things, but it’s not a requirement for doing hard things.

Which makes sense if you really think about it…

  • If someone held a gun to your head and said to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes, you could do it… regardless of how you felt initially.
  • If someone said here’s a check for $1,000,000 if you finish that blog post you’ve been meaning to write, you could do it… regardless of whether you were feeling inspired or not.

The point is simple:

We are perfectly capable of doing difficult things despite not feeling like it.

But here’s the most important implication of this idea: Doing important things makes us feel good!

  • Working on a creative project regardless of how you feel will lead to you feeling more inspired.
  • Going to the gym regardless of how you feel will lead to you feeling more energized.

Action leads to motivation at least as often as motivation leads to action.

The problem is, most people don’t really believe this. And so they sit around waiting to do important things until they feel like it.

Unfortunately, this habit of waiting for motivation leads to a lot of chronic shame, sadness, and self-criticism. Because you’re essentially living in a chronic state of procrastination — putting off the things you know you should do and doing something easier instead.

When this habit gets really entrenched, it leads to a state of perpetually low self-esteem and poor self-worth, which makes you keenly vulnerable to difficult emotions and bad moods.

On the other hand, when you stop waiting around for motivation and learn to make your own by taking good action regardless of how you feel, you buffer yourself from the effects of stress and painful emotion.

5. Passive communication

Passive communication is a tendency to ignore your own wants and needs and “go with the flow” of other people’s wishes in order to avoid conflict.

For example:

Your spouse suggests going to a movie for date night. You think to yourself, It’d be nice to go to dinner instead so we can actually talk. But then you think to yourself, No, he always complains about “fancy restaurants” and how expensive they are. Better just do a movie. At which point you find yourself saying, Sure, honey.

Obviously, deferring what you want and doing what someone else wants isn’t a bad thing necessarily. In fact, for any relationship to function healthily we need to be able to sacrifice and compromise sometimes.

But many people have gotten into a habit of always compromising on what they want and always deferring their needs to those of others. And for most significant relationships in our lives, this is just as unhealthy as never compromising.

The reason is, it leads to chronic resentment and anxiety. And when you’re chronically resentful of people and at the same time anxious, it’s very difficult to maintain a balanced, non-reactive emotional life.

When you habitually avoiding external conflict, you’re simply shifting all that conflict inside yourself.

And when you’re full of inner conflict, your emotions are going to feel all over the place and extreme.

If you want to cultivate true emotional peace and stability, you must learn to be assertive. You must learn to express your wants and needs clearly and honestly.

6. Unclear values

Answer this question to yourself honestly:

How much of your time do you spend doing things you genuinely want to do?

If we’re honest with ourselves, I think it’s probably a lower number than we’re comfortable admitting.

Of course, there’s boatloads of privilege wrapped up in that idea: Many people, out of sheer necessity, have to spend nearly all their time doing things they don’t especially want to do.

That being said, it’s a strange phenomenon that so many of us actually have the freedom to spend time doing things we really care about, believe in, and are passionate about, and yet… we don’t. And as a result, we live in this state of constant low-level shame about ourselves.

This perpetual sense of feeling like we’re not spending our time wisely is a huge vulnerability to feeling overly emotional.

Think about it: If you’re already feeling bad about yourself for wasting time, procrastinating, or indulging superficial goals at the expense of genuine ones, even small stressors and setbacks are going to hit you that much harder.

Part of this chronic procrastination is a result of the waiting for motivationproblem described above in #4. But I think there’s actually a deeper reason why we live in this perpetual state of self-disappointment where we’ve got a list of things we should be doing or working on and yet we find ourselves wasting time on things that don’t really matter to us…

We don’t really know what our values are.

I mean, we kind of do. We know the vague outlines of our values and what we want:

  • You know you want to get in shape and be healthy.
  • You know you want to spend more quality time with your family.
  • You know you want to be more creative.
  • You know you want to travel more.
  • Etc.

The problem is, these are all incredibly vague, non-specific ideas. And that lack of specificity makes it extremely hard to actually move forward on any of them and gain the emotional benefits of doing so.

If you think about the most emotionally resilient people you know, I bet most of them have this in common:

They have specific, clear goals and values and make steady progress toward them.

Because when we spend our time and energy doing the things that really matter to us — the things we really value — it’s like a super injection of emotional stability and energy.

But the trick to getting there — the trick to getting over the chronic procrastination hump — is to get really clear about your values. And to make extremely clear, specific plans and systems that will help you move toward these values.

So, don’t be satisfied with vague values. Take the time to really get to know your values in a clear, concrete way.

When you do, you’ll find that you’re able to make much better progress toward them; and as a result, feel more confident and emotionally stable as a result.

All You Need to Know

If you chronically feel more emotional than you think you should, there’s a good chance one or more of these habits may be a significant cause:

  • Unchecked expectations
  • Worry
  • Rumination
  • Waiting for motivation
  • Passive communication
  • Unclear values

shakir

Facebook reportedly had evidence that its algorithms were dividing people, but top executives killed or weakened proposed solutions

Mark Zuckerberg

But Zuckerberg and Facebook’s policy chief, Joel Kaplan, repeatedly nixed proposed solutions because they feared appearing biased against conservatives or simply lost interest in solving the problem, The Journal reported.

Facebook live reactions

One report concluded that Facebook’s algorithms “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” according to The Journal.

Facebook reaction emojis

Facebook’s internal research found that it encouraged polarization, but Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives rejected ideas aimed at fixing the problem, The Wall Street Journal reports

Facebook had evidence that its algorithms encourage polarization and “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” but top executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg killed or weakened proposed solutions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The effort to better understand Facebook’s effect on users’ behavior was a response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and its internal researchers determined that, contrary to the company’s mission of connecting the world, its products were having the opposite effect, according to the newspaper.

One 2016 report found that “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools,” with most people joining at the suggestion of Facebook’s “Groups You Should Join” and “Discover” algorithms. “Our recommendation systems grow the problem,” the researchers said, according to The Journal.

The Journal reported that Facebook teams pitched multiple fixes, including limiting the spread of information from groups’ most hyperactive and hyperpartisan users, suggesting a wider variety of groups than users might normally encounter, and creating subgroups for heated debates to prevent them from derailing entire groups.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

But these proposals were often dismissed or significantly diluted by Zuckerberg and Facebook’s policy chief, Joel Kaplan, according to the newspaper, which reported that Zuckerberg eventually lost interest in trying to address the polarization problem and was concerned about the potential to limit user growth.

In response to the pitch about limiting the spread of hyperactive users’ posts, Zuckerberg agreed to a diluted version and asked the team to not bring something like that to him again, The Journal said.

The company’s researchers also determined that because of a larger presence of far-right accounts and pages publishing content on Facebook, any changes — including apolitical tweaks, like reducing clickbait — would have disproportionately affected conservatives.

That worried Kaplan, who previously halted a project called “Common Ground” that aimed to encourage healthier political discourse on the platform.null

Ultimately, many of the efforts weren’t incorporated into Facebook’s products, with managers telling employees in September 2018 that the company was pivoting “away from societal good to individual value,” according to The Journal.

“We’ve learned a lot since 2016 and are not the same company today,” a Facebook spokeswoman told the paper. “We’ve built a robust integrity team, strengthened our policies and practices to limit harmful content, and used research to understand our platform’s impact on society so we continue to improve.”

Facebook has repeatedly been scrutinized by critics who say the company hasn’t done enough to limit the spread of harmful content on its platform. That topic has come into sharper focus as coronavirus-related misinformation has run rampant on social media and as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

Author: Shakir Essa

What are Ghost Nations? By shakir essa

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Somalia – the name of a nation that immediately coendures the image of a war-torn failing state plagued by unimaginable violence, piracy and terrorism for over 30 years. And yet within this war-torn country exists a beacon of stability. Often out of the headlines, the breakaway region of Somaliland could be considered a taboo subject amongst national governments and most international organisations.

Somaliland, located in the North West of the horn of Africa has been de-facto independent from the Federal Republic of Somalia in 1991 but has yet to secure the recognition of any UN member states. Regarding itself as the successor state to the British Somaliland Protectorate which was ruled as a separate colony to Italian Somaliland until independence in 1960 when the two former colonies were merged; Somaliland serves as a beacon of stability in a turbulent region.

The traditional narrative of Somaliland’s declaration of impendence in 1991, is that it was a direct response to the South’s descent into Civil War and the spread of Islamists. This narrative, while being broadly correct tends to omit the serious misgivings Somaliland had with the Federal State prior to the collapse of the Barre Regime.

Initially enthusiastic towards Somali nationalism and towards the impending merger with its Southern neighbourhoods, this optimism was quick to evaporate. Within a year of uniting with the southern provinces popular discontent in the North grew rapidly over the newly created Constitution, which was said to favour the South at the expense of draining the wealth of the North. In response to the perceived injustice of the Constitution, northern leaders encouraged a boycott of the referendum on the adoption of the new Constitution. Nevertheless, the Central Government in Mogadishu went ahead with its implementation without any changes. This led to further accusations that the South was ignoring the interests of the North and triggered those seeking to regain independence for the North into action. In 1961 a year after reunification, a group of generals sought to carry out a Coup D’état and restore Somaliland as an independent nation. The Coup failed and the Central Government responded with the further marginalisation of the North. Tensions simmered until the late 1970s and the 1980s when various rebel groups, (including some backed and financed by the Communist Derg Regime in neighbouring Ethiopia) took up arms against the Regime. Barre’s regime in Mogadishu responded by initiating large scale & indiscriminate bombardments of Northern cities, which cumulated in the Issaq Genocide. The Issaq Clan (the largest in Somaliland) was targeted in a systematic & state sponsor massacre that ultimately killed up to 200,000 Issaq’s and completely levelling the regions two largest cities. When the Barre Regime finally collapsed in 1991, leaders of the Somali National Movement rebel group were quick to capitalise on the descent of the South into Civil War and finally declare independence.

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A pathologist examines a mass grave site from the Issaq Genocide (Source: Lifeforce Magazine)

Since the Declaration was made, Somaliland has made remarkable progress in its development. In comparison to the South, Somaliland has managed to hold consecutive democratic elections; has a functioning economy and has managed to resist the influence of Al-Shabab and other terrorist groups.

Despite the initial declaration of impendence and the early years of self-rule for the state being controlled by a select group of military generals, the nation has made rapid and substantial progress in establishing a modern democratic nation. Since 2001 there have been six democratic and peaceful elections – including the peaceful transfer of power between different party’s. Another parliamentary election is scheduled for sometime later this year. The Somaliland Parliament has been noted for its stable structure that allows for mediation between conflicting groups and interests. In particular, the House of Elders, which is modelled on the UK’s House of Lord’s allows for traditional Clan Structures to be incorporated into a modern political model. In terms of security, it is this area in which Somaliland stands out from its neighbouring states. Unlike Somalia or neighbouring Puntland, Somaliland hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack since 2008 & piracy is almost non-existent along the section of coast under its control.somaliland-3

The economy in the country has also seen significant developments, despite the difficult circumstances the nation finds itself in. The most notable recent developments include UAE funded development in the Port of Berbera, the proposed development of transport & export links for neighbouring landlocked Ethiopia; and the potential development of oil exploration.

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Voters partaking in the 2017 Somaliland Presidential Elections (Source: VOA News)

Despite the progress Somaliland has made in becoming a modern democratic state, it’s still yet to secure the recognition of a single UN member state. In legal terms, Somaliland complies with all expected international norms for becoming an independent state and de-facto functions as such. However as is well known in international relations, statehood is not determined by legality, but political acceptance from those members already inside ‘the club’. The primary obstacle in the way of Somaliland achieving this acceptance is regional. Other African states are extremely wary of excepting new borders and states in the Continent given a large majority of them possess their own separatist movements and the risk succession could create a precedent for the dismantlement of their own borders. Likewise, states from outside the Continent also tend to be cautious about the re-drawing of borders in Africa due to the fear it could create a violent domino effect whereby colonial borders collapse along ethnic lines. Even Somaliland’s biggest international backer – Ethiopia has so far refused to formally recognise the Nation’s independence given its own problems with Somali separatists and its preference for keeping Somalia weak and marred by uncertainty by ensuring internal divisions remain.

While over 20 years of continued apathy to the creation of an independent Somaliland doesn’t bode well for the administration in Hargeisa, recent developments signal a change to the status quo may occur soon, but whether this is through design or disaster remains to be determined. While having performed exceptionally well since 1991, Somaliland now faces significant challenges. Firstly, the security situation the country finds itself in is increasingly precarious. With the situation in Somalia’s Southern Provinces having deteriorated rapidly in recent months, there is now a real danger Al-Shabab could take over the whole country, providing a springboard for eventual designs on Puntland & Somaliland. Compounding this fear are reports that both ISIS and Al-Qaeda have managed to establish themselves within neighbouring Puntland, an area of which they previously had little to no presence. The risk of ‘domestic’ terrorism from within Somaliland held territory has also grown which some have put down to the nations emerging economic problems and lack of opportunity for its youth.

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Territorial Control of Various Actors in Somalia as of August 2019 (Source: ACLED)

While as mentioned above Hargeisa has made significant steps in improving its economic progress in the last 20 years, the level of growth needed for the country to continue to improve has been hampered by its inability to gain international recognition. The economy is in need of modernisation with over 70% of GDP based on agriculture and the majority of the other 30% coming from remittances from those who have emigrated to countries like the UK. This is not a viable economic model long-term, especially as remittances are likely to dry up as emigrations consider themselves ‘more British’ or whichever state they have moved to than they identify with distant relatives back in Somaliland. Both infrastructure and diversification are desperately needed, but in order for this to be carried out the nation needs access to international finance, something at which is not presently possibly via institutions such as the IMF and World Bank or even through many aid mechanisms due to its status as an unrecognised territory. The difficulty in establishing a legitimate exchange rate for the nation’s currency also makes investment difficult despite the potential for energy exploration, tourism and modern agriculture in the Nation.

Adding to the woes above are heightened tensions between Somaliland and the neighbouring province of Puntland. In 2018 significant levels of clashes between the Somaliland armed forces and various Puntland militias occurred, both sides vying for long-disputed border areas. These tensions are yet to cease and have the potential to break-out into a full-scale conflict between the two parties, thereby shattering the last remaining beacon of stability within the region and opening up to exploitation by terrorist groups such as Al-Shabab.

The above concerns should prompt some international actors to reconsider their position vis-à-vis the recognition of Somaliland. If not for moral reasons, the importance of preventing the further collapse of states within the Horn of Africa for international security should serve as an impetus for some nations. Some however, have argued that Somaliland’s problem in gaining international recognition is actually that the nation is ‘too stable’. Unlike South Sudan, Eritrea and Timor-Leste which all experienced large-scale violence and chaos leading to their recognition as independent states, Somaliland’s order, democracy and relative calmness may have enforced the idea that a peaceful reconciliation with Mogadishu will eventually be possible, and therefore negate the need for diplomatic recognition as an independent entity.

If there is one single state that has the potential to change the fortunes of Somaliland for the better, its that of its former colonial power – the United Kingdom. The UK already possesses a relatively strong relationship with the breakaway region, being involved in training its forces to combat terrorism (alongside the US); donating £31 million towards aid and development in 2019; and having a large Somaliland expatriate community within the UK. The last point has helped Somaliland achieve recognition from a number of local authorities and cities within the UK including Cardiff and Sheffield, and even the devolved Welsh Senedd (Parliament) in 2006.

However, so far, the UK government has stopped short of recognising outright the state as de-jure independent. It can be argued however, recognition would be in the UK’s best interests for the region. By becoming the leading state in recognising state’s independence London would secure itself as a key stakeholder in the region. With interests in preventing more ungoverned territory emerging in which terrorists and pirates can use to their advantage, the UK should be stepping up efforts to ensure the stability of Somaliland. The strategic position of Somaliland in relation to the Gulf of Aden and Suez Straights is also notable, most oil and LNG exports heading to Europe pass through these choke points and given the instability in other parts of Somalia, as well as in Yemen, shipping is increasingly at risk of attack. While France, Japan, India, Italy the US possess naval bases in neighbouring Djibouti; and other such as Israel and Iran in Eritrea; the UK’s nearest base is in Oman. As shown by the capture of the British registered oil tanker the Stena Impero in the summer of 2019, the UK’s current maritime force in the region is not sufficient. These concerns have already led to the UK Defence Minister visiting Somaliland in 2019 with the aim of discussing the establishment of a British naval base within the country and increased funding and training for Somaliland forces. The UK is also wary of losing the initiative to recognise the country to rival players in the region. The UAE has already established a military base in the region and according to some sources in 2018 was close to officially recognising the country, but later changed its mind. Likewise, Russia has announced plans to open its own military base in the Port of Zeila, near the Somaliland – Djibouti border.

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Foreign Military Bases in the Horn of Africa Region (Source: Danish Institute of Security Studies)

With the London hosting the first UK-Africa summit in January 2020, many analysists took the opportunity to highlight how far the UK had lagged behind in the new race for influence in the Continent. While France has been mostly successful at preserving its links for former colonies, and countries such as Russia, Japan, India and China have worked extensively to build links on the Continent; Africa has largely remained at the back of British diplomatic concerns over the last few decades. For some the recognition of Somaliland by London, if combined by significant economic, security and political support could boost the UK’s influence in the Continent.

Besides the material benefit to London recognition could bring, there also exists the moral argument. Somaliland has made great strides to become everything the West expects from a modern democratic nation from holding free elections and successful transfers of power, to the establishment of a working legal system based on the rule of law and the relative freedom of the press. This is a rare feat not just for the Horn of Africa, but for Africa as a whole. Of course, there remains more that could be done, but the current situation Somaliland finds itself in can’t help make you think that it is being punished for its progress.

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Former British Defence Minister Visits Somaliland in 2019 (Source: Somaliland Nation)

Of course, there are significant risks for the United Kingdom should it choose to formally recognise the independence of the Hargeisa Government. The primary risk to London is that rather than increase its standing on the African Continent, the action could lead to significant blowback with traditional African partners such as South Africa and Nigeria who (mindful of similar independent movements in their own and neighbouring states), have made it very clear they support the territorial integrity of all of Somalia by Mogadishu. A break from African actors themselves runs the risk of the UK appearing to be acting in a colonialist manner, dividing nations to support their own interests. The move would also certainly lead to the complete severing of London-Mogadishu, although this is not a significant loss given the central government controls almost no territory outside the capital and UK-Somalia trade and UK-Somalia diplomatic relations are essentially non-existent. Turkey, a significant backer of the Somalia Central Government, with numerous military bases and personnel in the country could also provide another obstacle for London granting recognition to Hargeisa.

Despite the risk of angering other African nations, should the UK choose to recognise the formal independence of Somaliland, others are likely to swiftly follow suit. Numerous nations that have been rumoured to being close to recognising the independence of the country in the past including the UAE, Ethiopia, Israel and Taiwan who are noted as likely waiting for another nation to make the first move, unsure about the international reception their decision would have. The role of Ethiopia and Kenya who have both been keen to recognise an independent Somaliland in the past would be key in mitigating any condemnation by the African Union and coordination with both states would allow the UK to make Somaliland’s case better heard and understood. The decision being made by the UK would also likely gain the backing of the US, most EU members and the Commonwealth (of which the Somaliland government applied to join in 2009).

Overall, it is clear that despite the outstanding progress Somaliland has made since 1991; and the fact that it is de-facto independent in all areas have done little to secure de-jure recognition from the accepted players of the international system. The absence of large-scale conflict and deaths, the relatively peaceful existence of Somaliland have led some to believe it’s too well behaved for independent, with powers preferring to keep the status quo until an eventual solution is found for securing peace in the Southern Provinces of Somalia. However, given the situation in Somalia has continued to worsen over the last 20 years, it might finally be time for Somaliland to achieve recognition and reward for its progress. Much of this will depend on the actions of a few key powers namely: the formal colonial power the UK, the UAE and its main African backer of Ethiopia. Until then the people of Somaliland carry on, for them, their nation is already is country and they live in hope the rest of the world comes to recognise the same in the near future.

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Somalilanders celebrate Independence Day (Source: Council on Foreign Relations)

Further Reading & Listening:

The Financial Times – Tom Wilson

Shakir Essa
Africa Times Newspaper

Ilham Omar’s private life has become the subject of massive speculation amid accusations that her second husband Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is in fact her brother and she only married him to get him entry to the United States.

Mynett and Omar, through her spokesperson Jeremy Slevin – repeatedly refused to comment when asked by DailyMail.com if they were having an affair.

Mynett is currently a partner at E Street Group, which bills itself as providing national progressive strategies for candidates, nonprofits and advocacy efforts.

Mynett started the firm in July of 2018, according to LinkedIn – only one month before Omar started paying the company for its services.

Previously, Mynett worked as former Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison’s national finance director. Omar took over Ellison’s seat when he ran for Attorney General.

Federal Election Commission records show Omar’s team began paying Mynett’s company in August of 2018, splashing out $62,500 by the end of 2018.

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Payments continued into 2019, with $5,000, $10,000 and $12,000 chunks being shelled out every month, totaling just over $253,000 in a single year.

In January, Mynett posted an image on his Instagram of Omar’s name plaque outside of her congressional office, writing: ‘It’s been one hell of a journey. Incredibly proud of this fearless woman.’

Mynett is currently living in a luxury residential complex in DC’s trendy Petworth neighborhood where a two-bedroom apartment costs around $3,000 a month.

DailyMail.com approached him outside but the veteran political operative initially refused to confirm his identity, saying: ‘This is bizarre, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

When we spoke with him a second time as he pulled up in a bright blue Ford Mustang, Mynett told our reporter: ‘No comment.’

DailyMail.com approached Mynett but the veteran political operative initially refused to confirm his identity, saying: 'This is bizarre, I don't know what you're talking about.' When we spoke with him a second time, Mynett told our reporter: 'No comment'
DailyMail.com approached Mynett but the veteran political operative initially refused to confirm his identity, saying: ‘This is bizarre, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ When we spoke with him a second time, Mynett told our reporter: ‘No comment’

home in northern DC, worth $900,000.

‘I’m not in any position to talk whatsoever but I thank you for your concern. I’m sorry I have no comment at this time. But thank you sir.’

Mynett runs E Street Group with fellow veteran strategist William Hailer from a shared WeWork office space in DC.

Their website currently has a single accessible page displaying the message: ‘Accepting new clients by referral only.’ But an archived version accessed by DailyMail.com includes a lengthy ‘about us’ section where Mynett reels off his career accomplishments and boats of close ties with ‘national opinion leaders’.

‘Tim Mynett brings over 15 years of experience conducting high-level national fundraising and providing political and strategic advice to our clients at E Street Group,’ it says.

‘He has continually developed and implemented successful fundraising plans for national nonprofits, progressive advocacy efforts, and Democratic leaders in Congress. Throughout his career he has raised of over $100 million in gifts, grants, and donations.’

Mynett is currently a partner at E Street Group, which bills itself as providing national progressive strategies for candidates, nonprofits and advocacy effort. Pictured: Mynett and Omar at an event on March 23 in Los Angeles
Mynett is currently a partner at E Street Group, which bills itself as providing national progressive strategies for candidates, nonprofits and advocacy effort. Pictured: Mynett and Omar at an event on March 23 in Los Angeles
Federal Election Commission records show Omar's team began paying Mynett's company in August of 2018, splashing out $62,500 by the end of 2018
Federal Election Commission records show Omar’s team began paying Mynett’s company in August of 2018, splashing out $62,500 by the end of 2018
Payments continued into 2019, with big chunks of $5,000, $10,000 and $12,000 being shelled out every month, totaling just over $253,000 in a single year
Payments continued into 2019, with big chunks of $5,000, $10,000 and $12,000 being shelled out every month, totaling just over $253,000 in a single year

The profile goes on to say that Mynett has served as a lead fundraiser for a string of Dems including Ellison, Senator Jeff Merkley, Congresswoman Hilda Solis and Congressman Ron Kind.

He’s also worked for national non-profits and ‘progressive organizations’ including Angelina Jolie’s Global Action for Children and the SEIU’s Change that Works initiative focused on passing Obamacare.

It adds: ‘Having spent the majority of his career based in DC while conducting extensive client travel to every corner of the country Tim has cultivated strong relationships with national opinion leaders and is a sought-after advisor to a diverse group of constituencies.’

Omar’s team have refused to say exactly what work E Street or Mynett does for her, how much either is paid, or what role they played in her election campaign.

A woman who answered the door to Mynett’s business partner William Hailer’s home in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday afternoon said he was asleep and took a contact number and email. Hailer never got in touch.

Mynett has been spotted by Omar’s sides at fundraising events, including at the California for Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet in Woodland Hills in March.

He was front and center for her speech, where the congresswoman made controversial remarks blaming 9/11 on ‘someone doing something.’

In January he posted this image on his Instagram page of Omar's name plaque outside of her congressional office, writing: 'It’s been one hell of a journey. Incredibly proud of this fearless woman'
In January he posted this image on his Instagram page of Omar’s name plaque outside of her congressional office, writing: ‘It’s been one hell of a journey. Incredibly proud of this fearless woman’
Mynett has been spotted by Omar's sides at fundraising events, including at the California for Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet in Woodland Hills in March. He was front and center for her speech, where the congresswoman made controversial remarks blaming 9/11 on 'someone doing something'
Mynett has been spotted by Omar’s sides at fundraising events, including at the California for Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet in Woodland Hills in March. He was front and center for her speech, where the congresswoman made controversial remarks blaming 9/11 on ‘someone doing something’

The following day, Omar and Mynett were seen leaving the out-of-the-way Caffé Pinguini in Playa Del Rey.

DailyMailTV learned that an eyewitness observed Omar and her companion holding hands while dining inside the bistro.

‘The bigger question is why they were at this particular restaurant,’ said the man who took the video. You don’t just stumble across Playa Del Rey on a chilly Sunday evening in March.

‘It’s so out of the way. It’s the sort of place you go when you don’t want anyone to know where you are.’

Omar’s private life has become the subject of massive speculation amid accusations that her second husband Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is in fact her brother and she only married him to get him entry to the United States.

She later divorced Elmi and remarried Hirsi, but now that marriage is headed for a second divorce.

Omar has refused to address her marriages, leading to criticism from political rivals and her hometown newspaper.

For a total award of $21 million. This judgment represented the first time a court of law had held a Somali official accountable for human rights crimes under Barre. CJA advocated for Samantar’s

The third in a trio of federal cases brought by the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and

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Accountability (CJA) on behalf of victims and survivors of Siad Barre’s rule in Somalia will go to trial on May 13, almost 15 years after it was filed and more than 30 years since the events at issue took place. Plaintiff Farhan Warfaa brought this suit against defendant Colonel Yusef Abdi Ali (a.k.a. “Tukeh”) in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Ali has been living for more than two decades. Judge Leonie Brinkema and a jury to be selected next week will hear four days of evidence and argument from the parties, with a verdict expected on or after May 17. The three cases have provided unique opportunities for the plaintiffs to seek recognition for the harm they suffered decades ago, and represent an effort to ensure that foreign perpetrators of torture and other violations of international law do not find safe haven in the United States.
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Political and Legal Background

The current case arises from alleged violations of international law in Somalia under the Siad Barre regime, namely torture and attempted extrajudicial killing. Barre became Somalia’s president in 1969 after the assassination of then-President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke and a coup that overthrew the Somali Republic. With support from the Soviet Union, Barre led his revolutionary military junta to reconstitute the government; but Soviet support faltered after Barre invaded Ethiopia, another Soviet client, in 1977. The United States subsequently began to ingratiate itself with the Somali government, providing one of its largest military assistance programs in sub-Saharan Africa at the time. For the next decade, the Cold War powers vied for Barre’s allegiance.

But with his 1978 defeat in the Ogaden War in Ethiopia, Barre’s rule in Somalia grew increasingly tribalist and ruthless. He soon faced opposition in northeastern Somalia—a region overseen today by the Somaliland Administration—from the Somali National Movement (SNM), a militia group founded in response to Barre’s abuses against the clan that dominated that region. Colonel Tukeh, who had been trained in the U.S. and Soviet Union as well as Somalia, led the Army’s Fifth Brigade in a brutal crackdown against the SNM and the local population.

As Cold War tensions began to relax in the late 1980s, Somalia’s strategic importance diminished, changing the calculus of western donors who had watched Barre’s shift toward despotism with growing alarm. Earlier in the decade, Somalia had received $25-34 million annually in U.S. military aid alone, and by 1987 foreign aid represented more than half of the country’s GNP. But by 1989, the flow of foreign aid that had sustained Somalia since its independence virtually ceased.

Isolated and impoverished in its final years, Barre’s regime became dictatorial, repressive, and violent. His forces—including the Somali National Army and National Security Service (NSS)—detained, tortured, and murdered tens of thousands of his people. Court verdicts have found that former Somali Prime Minister and Minister of Defense General Mohammed Ali Samantar oversaw much of that mass killing and torture, as did Colonel Abdi Aden Magan, who headed the NSS Department of Investigations from 1988-90. And in the northeast, Tukeh directed the murder of thousands of civilians.

A coalition of many militia groups, including the SNM, and nonviolent political groups led the rebellion that ultimately toppled the Barre regime in 1991. Violence in the region has continued as members of Barre’s clan have faced backlash for the preferential treatment some received from his government.

Under the Barre regime and since its fall, it has been impossible for ordinary citizens to bring civil suits in Somalia/Somaliland for the human rights violations they suffered at the hands of government and military officials. Neither have there been criminal prosecutions seeking justice for Barre-era atrocities. Somalia has not ratified the Rome Statute to join the ICC, which in any event would not have retroactive jurisdiction over decades-past crimes. No international mechanism was established after Barre’s government fell to adjudicate its abuses. Until this trio of cases commenced in U.S. courts, there had been no legal action—in Somalia or elsewhere—seeking justice for the crimes of the Barre regime.

Seeking Justice in the United States

In 2004, CJA filed suit against General Samantar on behalf of three survivors of his policies — Bashe Yousuf, Buralle Mohamoud, Ahmed Gulaid — and the estates of four of his victims, including Aziz Deria’s father and brother. The suit was filed in Virginia’s Eastern District, where Samantar had found safe haven in 1997. The plaintiffs in Yousuf v. Samantar described being abducted, confined, threatened, and tortured by soldiers under Samantar’s command. Their claims proceeded under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which creates a cause of action against foreign officials who commit torture and/or extrajudicial killing.

Interlocutory appeals in Yousuf created two key legal precedents with respect to foreign sovereign/official acts immunity. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that individual foreign officials and their conduct are not shielded by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA). And in 2012, the Fourth Circuit held that there is no common law immunity for jus cogens violations — acts against the peremptory norms of international law — even when committed by foreign officials or agencies. Such grave violations are definitively beyond the scope of any official authority, even if carried out under the color of law or government endorsement, the court said. Samantar attempted to appeal this ruling, but the Supreme Court denied certiorari in 2014, while proceedings were ongoing in the Fourth Circuit, and again in 2015, ending Samantar’s effort “to claim that the torture and extrajudicial killing for which he admitted liability in U.S. court were official acts entitled to immunity.”

In February 2012, Samantar had stated in open court that he would not contest the plaintiffs’ action against him, accepting default liability for all violations they alleged. Judge Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia — the same judge who will hear Warfaa’s case next week — awarded each of the three surviving plaintiffs and four represented estates $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages, for a total award of $21 million. This judgment represented the first time a court of law had held a Somali official accountable for human rights crimes under Barre. CJA advocated for Samantar’s removal from the U.S. until his death in August 2016; unfortunately, the plaintiffs were not able to recover the award granted by the court.

The second CJA case involved Colonel Abdi Aden Magan, whose NSS forces had arrested Abukar Hassan Ahmed, a professor of constitutional law at Somali National University, in 1988. Ahmed was an outspoken human rights advocate and critic of the Barre regime. Magan’s NSS detained, starved, and tortured Ahmed for months, accusing him of supporting opposition groups and writing for Amnesty International. Ahmed was shackled in his cell in an excruciating position day and night for three months.

Tracking His Torturer

After a 30-minute internet search in 2005, Ahmed discovered that Magan, the man responsible for his torture and arbitrary detention, was living freely in Columbus, Ohio. CJA filed suit on Professor Ahmed’s behalf against Magan in 2010. In Nov. 2012 a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio found Magan liable for arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, and torture. “The court’s decision today is of great consequence not only for me but also for the many other Somalis who were tortured or even killed by NSS officers,” Ahmed reflected after the judgment in Ahmed v. Magan. “In order for Somalia to heal after 20 years of military rule, it is essential to confront and hold accountable individuals like Colonel Magan.”

Based on this judgment, a federal magistrate judge awarded Ahmed $5 million in compensatory and $10 million in punitive damages in August 2013. At the hearing to assess damages, Ahmed explained that he wanted justice not only for himself, but for the silent victims of torture around the world. “That’s why I want to come to the United States to have the justice that I couldn’t have in my country,” he said.

Magan had fled, apparently to Kenya, while Ahmed’s suit against him was pending. Even if Magan had assets worth $15 million, Ahmed would not be able to enforce the American judgment in Kenya without a separate proceeding before a Kenyan court. Still, the Southern District’s decision marked the first time a member of the NSS had been held liable in court for violations committed under the Barre regime.

Ahmed became legal adviser to the president of Somalia in 2011, assisting the drafting of the new Somali Constitution and Human Rights Bill. He has also resumed teaching law at the City University of Mogadishu, and in October 2013, he received the International Bar Association Human Rights Award.

“The dictators and their thugs think that justice has geographical limitations, but justice is universal. . . . It belongs to all humanity,” Ahmed said when accepting the award in Boston. “[M]y victory before the Ohio Court is not just for me, but for all the silent victims of torture—alive or dead.”

Abducted as a Teenager

In the suit that will go to trial Monday, Farhan Warfaa alleges that he was abducted as a teenager in 1987 by Tukeh’s soldiers, who claimed he was responsible for the disappearance of an Army water tanker. Warfaa says he was taken to the Army’s regional headquarters, where he was confined, interrogated, and tortured for months, including by Tukeh himself.

Warfaa’s complaint alleges that his “arms and legs were bound, he was stripped naked, and he was beaten to the point of unconsciousness at least nine times.” One night in March 1988, while Tukeh allegedly was interrogating Warfaa in his office, the SNM attacked the Fifth Brigade. Warfaa says that Tukeh ordered his officers to capture or kill the SNM soldiers, then shot Warfaa five times at point-blank range and left him for dead. The officers ordered to bury Warfaa soon discovered that he was still alive, however, and allegedly ransomed him back to his family. It is possible that Tukeh did not know Warfaa had survived until the CJA lawsuit was filed.

At trial in Virginia next week, Warfaa will be seeking justice for the torture and attempted extrajudicial killing he alleges Tukeh commanded and committed. The precedent from Yousuf means that Tukeh cannot claim official acts immunity for the violations alleged by Warfaa. “Because [Warfaa’s] TVPA claims are premised on alleged acts that violate jus cogens norms,”—here, the international consensus against torture and extrajudicial killing—“the act of state doctrine is inapplicable,” wrote Judge Brinkema in her July 2014 opinion denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss Warfaa’s TVPA claims.

With Barre’s commanders having found refuge in the United States and Somalia’s government still struggling for stability, civil suits before American courts are these plaintiffs’ only legal recourse to pursue justice for the harm they suffered. For Bashe Yousuf, Aziz Deria, Buralle Mohamoud, Ahmed Gulaid, Abukar Hassan Ahmed, and Farhan Warfaa, federal judges half a world away are singularly able to acknowledge their suffering, endorse an authoritative record of the injuries they survived, and confirm the responsibility of their persecutors.

(As a member of Stanford Law’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, the author was invited by CJA to conduct independent legal monitoring of the Warfaa v. Ali trial. The views expressed here are her own and not those of the Clinic, Stanford University, or CJA

Copy from: legalmonitor:
As a african times team, we are not owned for this post, any copy right issue’s please feel free to contact us,

Mgubo mkadumbo,
Editor@afrika-times.com

Shakir Esza
Shakir@afrika-times.com

2 Canadian women freed from Somaliland prison say they endured extreme abuse Maymona Abdi, 28, and Karima Watts, 24, arrested in January, released in April

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Two Canadian women freed from a prison in Somaliland say they endured extreme abuse “bordering on torture” while they were detained for two months overseas.
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Maymona Abdi, 28, and Karima Watts, 24, originally from Ottawa, arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Sunday. They were arrested by police on Jan. 19 for allegedly drinking alcohol in the Somaliland city of Hargeisa. They were held without trial and released on April 23.
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Consuming alcohol is illegal in Somaliland, a self-declared republic still internationally considered to be part of Somalia. The women disputed the charge, but were detained at the Koodbuur Station Women’s Prison in Hargeisa.
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Canadian women released from jail in Somaliland
“I feel a lot of relief. It’s been really hard,” Abdi told reporters at the airport shortly after their arrival. “I’m super tired and anxious.”
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Maymona Abdi
Maymona Abdi spent more than two months in jail in Somaliland (CBC)
Abdi said she thinks they were released because of media coverage of their plight. She said Canadian consular officials did not help them as much as they needed.

According to their lawyer, Mubarik Mohamoud Abdi, the women signed confessions under duress, hoping to avoid being detained. They were sentenced to 2½ months in jail and 40 lashes. He said the prosecution in the case did not prove before the court that the women drank alcohol.
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‘Name a place where it isn’t dangerous to be us’
In a prepared statement that she read aloud, Abdi said people have asked them why they went somewhere as dangerous as Somaliland. She said the two felt an obligation to help women facing violence.

“Name a place where it isn’t dangerous to be us. Where is it safe to be a woman? In reality, it is women on the ground, who look like us, who are sacrificing everything.”

Her family retains property in Somaliland, according to Abdi’s mother Fahima Hassan.
maymona-abdi-and-karima-watts
According to Jason Jeremias, a human rights activist based in New York City, Abdi was working to intervene in the protection of women at extreme risk of gender-based violence, but they did not go as official representatives of a non-governmental organization.

Karima Watts
Karima Watts stands in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Sunday. (CBC)
Abdi said she and Watts were subjected to extreme emotional and psychological abuse as well as “physical retaliation” in prison. She said they were denied medical aid, legal counsel and, at times, food and water.

According to international human rights conventions, that denial constitutes torture, she said.

“We burdened our struggle in silence,” she said. “For two months, while we were being detained, the world had no clue where we were and what we were being subjected to.”

Silence enables violence, she added. “We will stand up for each other as women wherever we face violence,” she said.

Jeremias, who is connected to the organization the Price of Silence, spoke up on their behalf, drawing attention to their case, she said.

Don’t give up fight for human rights, she says
Abdi, whose sister is in Toronto, said she plans to go to the hospital to be assessed. She said they also have to decide where they are going to live.

She added she would like Canadians not to give up the fight for human rights and to remember many people around the world are suffering in silence.
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“I want them to know, there’s people out there that go through things but nobody really knows,” she said. “Be aware of it. Open your eyes.”

Maymona Abdi and Karima Watts
Watts, left, and Abdi take a break after Abdi spoke to the media in Toronto. (CBC)
Shirley Gillett, project co-ordinator of I Do! Project in Toronto, said she believes the charge of consuming alcohol was trumped up. The project works with survivors of forced marriage and those at risk of forced marriage.
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Gillett said Abdi, who lived in Vancouver before heading overseas, has done work with the project. She said Abdi contacted her after she had arrived in Somaliland.

“They’ve been through a lot of stress. They’re exhausted as well. They were living in conditions that were deplorable, to say the least,” Gillett said.

“We’re just relieved that they’re home. We’re just looking to getting them to good health, supporting them in any way they can.”

Avoid all travel to Somalia, Ottawa says
In a statement earlier, Hassan had said: “Maymona and Karima were born and grew up in Ottawa, Canada, as best friends. When Karima’s mother died, she became our daughter.”

Canadians are urged to avoid all travel to Somalia, according to the Canadian government in a travel advisory that was last updated on April 25.
maymona-abdi-and-karima-watts
“If you are currently in Somalia despite this advisory, you should leave immediately,” the travel advisory reads.

“The security situation in Somalia is extremely volatile and the threat of domestic terrorism is high, particularly in south-central Somalia and in the capital, Mogadishu.”
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Shirley Gillett
Shirley Gillett, project co-ordinator of the I Do! Project in Toronto, says she believes the charges were trumped up. (CBC)

Reporter: Shakir Essa

Saudi Arabia with UAE and Turkey with Qatar Are Playing a Dangerous Game in the Horn of Africa

What’s new?

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been expanding its role in the Horn of Africa. Along with other Gulf powers, it is broadening its ties to the region. Strategic rivalries, including those within the Gulf Cooperation Council pitting the UAE and Saudi Arabia against Qatar, often motivate Gulf powers’ increasing influence.

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Why does it matter? The influence of, and competition among, Gulf states could reshape Horn geopolitics. Gulf leaders can nudge their African counterparts toward peace; both the UAE and Saudi Arabia helped along the recent Eritrea-Ethiopia rapprochement. But rivalries among Gulf powers can also sow instability, as their spillover into Somalia has done.

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What should be done? The UAE, whose Horn presence is particularly pronounced, should build on its successful Eritrea-Ethiopia diplomacy. It should continue backing Eritrean-Ethiopian peace, encouraging both parties to fulfil their commitments. Abu Dhabi should heal its rift with the Somali government, and thus help calm tensions between Mogadishu and its peripheries.

I.Overview

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged in recent months as an important protagonist in the Horn of Africa. Through political alliances, aid, investment, military base agreements and port contracts, it is expanding its influence in the region. A recent manifestation came in the summer of 2018, when Eritrea and Ethiopia announced – after a flurry of visits to and from Emirati officials – that they had reached an agreement to end their twenty-year war. Emirati and Saudi diplomacy and aid were pivotal to that deal. Elsewhere, however, Gulf countries have played a less constructive role. Competition between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and Qatar on the other, spilled into Somalia beginning in late 2017, aggravating friction between Mogadishu and Somali regional leaders. Abu Dhabi’s relations with the Somali government have collapsed. As its influence in the Horn grows, the UAE should build on its Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making by continuing to underwrite and promote that deal, while at the same time looking to reconcile with the Somali government.

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An array of calculations shapes the UAE’s actions in the Horn. The Gulf port cities have a long history of ties with Africa, centred around maritime trade and dating to the era before the Emirates united as a nation-state. From 2011, however, Abu Dhabi began to look at the countries along the Red Sea coast as more than commercial partners. Turmoil in the Middle East, Iran’s growing regional influence, piracy emanating from Somalia and, from 2015, the war in Yemen combined to turn the corridor’s stability into a core strategic interest. The 2017 Gulf crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, pushed leaders on both sides of the divide to double down on their alliances, including in the Horn. Since then, the UAE has nailed down diplomatic relationships and extended its reach, particularly along the Red Sea.

 In places, Gulf rivalries have been destabilising. 

In places, Gulf rivalries have been destabilising. In Somalia in particular, the UAE, perceiving the Somali government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” as too close to Qatar and keen to protect years of investment, has deepened its relations with the governments of Somalia’s regions, or federal states. Importing the Gulf crisis into Somalia has contributed to tensions between Mogadishu and the federal states that over recent months have threatened to boil over. Elsewhere, however, Abu Dhabi’s peace-making is evident. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, provided critical diplomatic and financial support to help Eritrea and Ethiopia take the first steps toward a rapprochement that could prove enormously beneficial for wider Horn stability. Both Gulf monarchies also appear to have contributed to an easing of tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt.

The UAE, along with its fellow Gulf monarchies, is investing in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa for the long haul. Ideally, its successful Eritrea-Ethiopia diplomacy would provide the basis for that engagement. To that end, it should consider the following:

  • Keep underwriting Eritrean-Ethiopian peace, including by releasing the aid it has promised and pressing Asmara and Addis Ababa to follow through on the September agreement they signed in Jeddah;
  • Seek to end its debilitating spat with Mogadishu, with the understanding that warmer Abu Dhabi-Mogadishu relations are likely a prerequisite for overcoming divisions between President Farmajo’s government and Somali regional leaders. The UAE could encourage allies in the regions to reconcile with Mogadishu and take steps to facilitate their doing so, for example pledging to inform Farmajo’s government of its activities in the federal states, from training security forces to developing ports.

II.The UAE’s Long Involvement in the Horn

When the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders signed the September agreement, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s role in brokering it was in full view. The ceremony took place in Jeddah, on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. The two African leaders sat in an opulent room under the gaze of a metres-high portrait of the founding Saudi king, Abdulaziz. The current king, Salman, looked on, flanked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Emirati foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. The traditional regional powerbrokers – Western countries, the UN and the African Union (AU) – were absent.

The Eritrean-Ethiopian rapprochement, as well as a flurry of other Horn of Africa diplomacy, has greatly boosted Gulf states’ visibility as geopolitical actors along the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now central to conversations about the future of a region still suffering strife and instability. With Washington seemingly in retreat, the Gulf countries appear intent on playing a major role. As one Gulf official put it: “If you look at the future of Africa, it’s clear – China is in. The Arab countries are in. The U.S. is not”. The larger questions are what each Gulf country aims to gain and how each intends to use its newly acquired leverage.

 The UAE itself has a long track record of engagement across the Red Sea. 

The UAE itself has a long track record of engagement across the Red Sea. It hosts large diasporas from Horn countries, some of which were integral to its founding in 1971. Arabic-speaking Sudanese civil servants helped build nascent ministries, and members of the diaspora still swap stories about how President Omar al-Bashir was once Khartoum’s military attaché in Abu Dhabi. Dubai, meanwhile, is the banking hub for many Somali businesses.

The Emirates’ history as a trading coast also informs its contemporary economic outreach. The UAE’s model of economic diversification is built around its role as a logistics hub and regional headquarters. It is a model premised on freedom of maritime navigation, including through Bab al-Mandab, the narrow passage from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, and the Strait of Hormuz. Analysts often describe both bodies of water as chokepoints because they are easily closed to oil tankers and other cargo ships. Having cooperative, even like-minded governments along the Red Sea corridor is a strategic priority. Africa is also a natural theatre for trade and logistical ambitions. It comes as no surprise that one of the Dubai-based logistics giant DP World’s first contracts abroad was in Djibouti, where it began to develop Doraleh port in 2006.

III.The Arab Uprisings and a New Emirati Stance Abroad

The 2011 Arab uprisings vested the Red Sea with strategic importance for the UAE beyond core economic interests and led Abu Dhabi to view that corridor, as well as places as seemingly far-flung as Jordan and Libya, as its “neighbourhood”. Those uprisings transformed the Middle East from a zone of entrenched autocracies into a web of conflicts that political Islamists associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the UAE and Saudi Arabia view as enemies, initially seemed to be winning. Abu Dhabi, in particular, views groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which have traction inside the Emirates, as an existential threat. Their ascendancy as far away as North Africa alarmed the Emirates, particularly as conflicts across the Arab world increasingly appeared interlinked, with events in one place shaping those elsewhere.

A growing sense of danger bred a more interventionist foreign policy. The UAE, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, funnelled support to allies in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. To explain these actions to citizens at home – used to an economically focused UAE – Emirati leaders invoked an argument still oft-repeated in policymaking hallways in Abu Dhabi: you can’t be safe if your neighbourhood is at war.

Egypt’s future took on particular importance after its first democratic election in modern history brought a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Morsi, to the presidency. After Morsi’s ouster in a coup that the UAE and Saudi Arabia lauded and may have actively encouraged, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, together with Kuwait, poured billions into the new government’s coffers. Abu Dhabi also kept a keen eye on the security of the Suez Canal, including when the scale of piracy in the Red Sea, the canal’s southern gateway, jumped in the mid-2010s. Seeing a risk to its oil shipments and cargo containers, the UAE took an active role in counter-piracy initiatives. In Somalia, it trained a marine police force in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and began experimenting with counter-terrorism operations against the Islamist Al Shabaab insurgency. The country became a Petri dish of learning for UAE special forces, which Western defence officials describe as the most capable in the Gulf today.

IV.The Yemen Catalyst

By 2015, the tumult in the Middle East – the Islamic State’s rise, Libya’s collapse, the Syria inferno, instability in post-coup Egypt and fear at what some Gulf leaders saw as Iran’s increasing influence across the region – created a siege mentality in some Gulf monarchies. In that context, Saudi Arabia and its primary partner the UAE led a military intervention in Yemen to roll back Huthi rebels loosely allied with Tehran. The Huthis had ousted the president and taken control of the capital and much of the country in late 2014 and early 2015.

In its anti-Iran drive, Riyadh sought assistance from past allies Sudan and Eritrea, both of which had strengthened ties with Tehran while all three countries were under international sanctions. Beginning in the 1990s, Sudan had built its defence industry with Iranian assistance and know-how; Eritrea had offered use of its port, Assab, to the Iranian navy. In 2014, however, both countries ejected Iranian diplomats. A year later, both agreed to contribute troops and resources for the Yemen war.

At the outset of the Yemen conflict, the UAE and Saudi Arabia were alarmed by Huthi rebels’ gains around Bab al-Mandab, raising the possibility that an Iranian-allied group would control such a chokepoint. They prioritised retaking Yemen’s western and southern coastlines. The UAE took de facto responsibility for operations in Yemen’s south and quickly found itself in need of a naval and air base along the Red Sea. The natural candidate was Djibouti, where DP World had built the port. By then, however, Abu Dhabi’s relationship with Djibouti was souring over allegations of corruption related to DP World’s contract (DP World disputes the allegations). Officials from the two countries had a falling-out in April 2015, when the UAE, with DP World’s infrastructure, sought to use Djibouti as a military launching pad into Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition turned to another port, Eritrea’s Assab. Riyadh signed a security agreement also that April to use Assab, leaving Abu Dhabi to carry out the deal’s terms. By September, the Emirati military was flying fighter-bombers from the Eritrean coastline.

The dispute with Djibouti left the UAE uneasy about its reach along the Red Sea corridor. Abu Dhabi worried that it could not rely on allies in the Horn – even in cases where it felt existential questions were at stake. As UAE-backed Yemeni forces pushed northward along the Red Sea coast, Abu Dhabi sought to expand its strategic depth. DP World and the Emirati military each penned an agreement to develop Berbera port in the self-declared republic of Somaliland. A subsidiary of DP World later signed a contract with local authorities in the Somali federal state of Puntland to develop Bosaso port. The attitude, as one Emirati official put it, became “fill space, before others do”.

V.The Intra-Gulf Crisis

The June 2017 Gulf crisis brought yet more urgency to the scramble along the Red Sea corridor. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with and imposed an embargo on Qatar.

Among the reasons the UAE in particular cited for breaking ties with Qatar was Doha’s alleged betrayal of the Saudi-led coalition efforts in Yemen. The Qataris had sent few personnel to the war theatre, but Abu Dhabi accused them of having revealed the location of a UAE-led operation to al-Qaeda, resulting in Emirati casualties, though they provided no evidence to support that allegation. (Qatar at the time declined to respond to this specific claim, and urged the UAE to provide evidence. ) After they imposed an air and naval blockade on Yemen, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi continued to claim that Doha was working actively against Saudi-led efforts, particularly through the media.

Also at the outset of the Gulf crisis, both sides began a frantic diplomatic push to secure allies, including among countries in Africa. In the Horn, competition was particularly fraught, given this subregion’s strategic value and proximity to Yemen. Djibouti and Eritrea both issued statements of support for the Saudi alliance, prompting Qatar to withdraw 400 observers it had stationed to monitor a border dispute between the two.

In Somalia, Farmajo, who had assumed office only months before the Gulf crisis, reportedly faced intense Saudi and Emirati pressure to cut ties with Doha. Although the president insisted that he wanted to remain neutral, for Abu Dhabi, widespread reports that he had received Qatari funds before his election belied that claim, as did his post-election appointment as chief aide of a former Al Jazeera correspondent with links to Doha. In April 2018, Somali authorities seized from a UAE plane almost $10 million in cash that Abu Dhabi said was intended to fund training of security forces that had long been underway but which Mogadishu alleged would be used to fund its political rivals.

In the aftermath of the spat, Abu Dhabi withdrew some officials from Mogadishu, evacuated a military training camp and shuttered a hospital. The UAE also shored up its alliances with leaders in Somalia’s federal states and the breakaway republic of Somaliland. It stuck to previous port agreements in Berbera and Bosaso, as well as a military base agreement for Berbera, and reportedly is discussing the development of Kismayo, in Jubbaland federal state, over the Somali federal government’s objections. The Gulf powers’ backing of rival factions – notably Emirati support for the governments of Somalia’s federal states and Qatari support for Farmajo – has exacerbated existing tensions between Mogadishu and the regions to the point of near-conflict.

The dust-up in Mogadishu is often described by officials in Abu Dhabi as a “wake-up call” – the most blaring signal that the UAE’s interests were imperilled along the African side of the Red Sea. For Abu Dhabi, the timing was inauspicious as well. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces had been gearing up for an offensive to move toward the Huthi-controlled port of Hodeida – an operation that was to rely heavily on assets parked across the sea in Assab. If past alliances with Djibouti and Somalia could turn on a dime, perhaps other seemingly assured relationships – such as with Eritrea – could do so, too.

VI.The Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Deal

As the UAE’s relations with the Somali federal government soured, a new prime minister emerged in Ethiopia whose reformist economic views appealed to Abu Dhabi. Both countries had already begun laying the groundwork for closer ties some years ago. In March 2013, the two agreed to form a joint commission to discuss economic, political and other cooperation. In April 2018, the selection by Ethiopia’s ruling coalition of a new and charismatic prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, paired with Abu Dhabi’s desire for a new partner in the Horn, catalysed a quicker alignment. As Abiy spoke of privatisation and development to unleash the potential of the Horn’s most populous country, the UAE saw a strategic and investment opportunity. Among the many constraints on Ethiopia’s growth has been its lack of sea access and consequent reliance on Djibouti as the sole outlet for its exports. The UAE’s newly signed port contracts could help. In March 2018, DP World announced that Addis Ababa would take a 19 per cent stake in the Berbera port’s development.

Now, with an energetic partner and a cornucopia of potential commercial opportunities lying in wait in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, Abu Dhabi launched a series of meetings and mutual delegations in a bid to forge strong ties with Abiy. Abu Dhabi’s and Riyadh’s relationships with Eritrea positioned them well to help facilitate rapprochement between Asmara and Addis Ababa, once leaders in those capitals were ready. Abu Dhabi pledged $3 billion to Ethiopia, an amount that puts the country on par with Egypt as a recipient of UAE assistance. The two Gulf countries assured Eritrea, meanwhile, that they would help lobby for the lifting of international sanctions in the coming months. If sanctions go, Assab – which has been modernised for military sorties but not for container ships – will almost certainly be the next port to go to market for commercial development.

 As seen from the Gulf, the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal has both economic and strategic layers. 

As seen from the Gulf, the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal has both economic and strategic layers. Amid the UAE’s strategic setbacks in Djibouti and Somalia, the Ethiopia-Eritrea deal in many ways cements Abu Dhabi’s role as a player in Horn politics. In the weeks since the agreement was announced, Ethiopia’s prime minister also has helped spearhead efforts to improve relations with Somalia, which may in turn help smooth the rough patch between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi – though for now little suggests rapprochement will come any time soon.

Both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh also appear to have helped behind the scenes Prime Minister Abiy’s efforts to improve relations with Egypt, another old foe. Abiy visited Cairo in June and publicly reassured Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that Ethiopian development projects – notably the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Egypt fears could severely curtail its supply of Nile water – would not harm Egypt. Sisi has also taken a conciliatory approach, saying he recognises that there is no military solution to the dispute. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has helped start a dialogue between Eritrea and Djibouti over a decade-long border conflict. Though that dialogue is still in its early days, after an initial meeting between the two countries’ leaders in Jeddah in September 2018, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh told Saudi media that relations had “entered the normalisation phase”. In a sense, both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are creating facts on the ground in the Horn. In the process, they are becoming forces that cannot easily be ignored.

The payoff could be enormous for regional integration, infrastructure development and connectivity across the Red Sea. Just with regard to ports, the Horn remains one of the most underserved areas of the world relative to population, with a single modern multi-use deep-water port at Doraleh, in Djibouti.

Yet because competition with adversaries also drives the push into the Horn, risks are at least as prominent as opportunities. The contrast between the roles played by the Gulf powers in Ethiopia and Somalia is instructive. At one moment, Gulf involvement in the Horn, even if motivated in part by rivalry between two Middle East axes, can move things in the right direction, as it has with Abiy’s push for peace with Eritrea. At another, those same rivalries can destabilise and divide.

VII.Conclusion

The UAE signals repeatedly that its engagement with Africa is here to stay. In 2018, it is opening an additional six embassies on the continent, adding to the more than a dozen already there. As one Emirati official put it: “We need to diversify and strengthen our relationships outside our own region. If we only pay attention to the Middle East and North Africa, we will be bogged down in crisis. We could miss a lot of opportunities around the globe”.

While credit for the Ethiopia-Eritrea deal lies primarily with the leaders of those two countries, clearly Gulf powers, especially the UAE, played an important role in helping push forward the initial steps of a rapprochement that could be significant across the Horn. The deal demonstrated that the UAE and Saudi Arabia can play important peace-making roles. Abu Dhabi and its peers can encourage regional economic integration and help give leaders in the Horn the extra boost, including both political and financial support, they might need to make peace. Such was the story of Eritrea and Ethiopia – two countries that saw domestic interests in making peace but needed the right economic and diplomatic assurances from abroad.

The months ahead will be crucial for the success of that deal. Abiy faces enormous hurdles in his quest to reform the economy and consolidate political support. Eritrea’s reopening to the world will undoubtedly encounter unexpected challenges. For the Jeddah deal to succeed, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will need to work proactively to keep the parties on track. They can begin by promptly following through on their aid commitments.

 Despite the bright spot of Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making, intra-Gulf competition colours Emirati involvement across the Horn. 

Yet despite the bright spot of Eritrea-Ethiopia peace-making, intra-Gulf competition colours Emirati involvement across the Horn. Whether the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate will lead to some form of rapprochement within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as some reports suggest might happen, remains unclear. But even if so, the Saudi-UAE alliance is still likely to view actors such as Qatar and Turkey as competitors in strategic theatres like the Horn. Moreover, while for now Tehran’s influence is largely limited to the Yemeni side of the Red Sea, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s engagement in the Horn is likely to remain informed by their determination to ensure Iran does not regain a foothold, including by winning back its former allies Sudan and Eritrea.

The damage that external rivalries can inflict on the Horn was made clear in Somalia, where friction among Gulf powers, and in turn between the UAE and Farmajo’s government, has exacerbated pre-existing tension over how power and resources are divvied up between the capital and the regions. Abu Dhabi says that it wants a stable Somalia, but the country is likely to remain volatile unless strong Emirati ties to Somali regional leaders are paired with a reconciled UAE relationship with Mogadishu. Abu Dhabi could pledge to inform Farmajo’s government of its activities in the federal states – whether training security forces or developing ports – and ensure that its investment and aid benefit the country and not only its regions. The UAE also might encourage its allies in the federal states to repair their own ties to Mogadishu.

Abu Dhabi faces a choice in how much its Middle Eastern rivalries shape its Horn engagement. If competition remains a primary driver, results will almost certainly be mixed. In some places the UAE may still help bridge divides, even if partly motivated by shoring up its own influence at the expense of rivals. Elsewhere, however, competition could put Horn governments in a difficult spot, forcing them to choose between the two Gulf axes or exacerbating local conflicts in new ways. Ultimately, zero-sum competition in the Horn risks upsetting both the internal politics of the region’s diverse states and the balance of power among those states. Outside powers may win short-term gains, but over time everyone stands to lose from greater Horn instability.

The 5 Principles of Journalism, ✔ check facts

The 5 Principles of Ethical Journalism
The core principles of ethical journalism set out below provide an excellent base for everyone who aspires to launch themselves into the public information sphere to show responsibility in how they use information.

There are hundreds of codes of conduct, charters and statements made by media and professional groups outlining the principles, values and obligations of the craft of journalism.

Most focus on five common themes:

Five Core Principles of Journalism
1. Truth and Accuracy
Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corroborate information we should say so.

2. Independence
Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.

3. Fairness and Impartiality
Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.

4. Humanity
Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.

5. Accountability
A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair.

Does journalism need new guidelines?
EJN supporters do not believe that we need to add new rules to regulate journalists and their work in addition to the responsibilities outlined above, but we do support the creation of a legal and social framework, that encourages journalists to respect and follow the established values of their craft.

In doing so, journalists and traditional media, will put themselves in a position to be provide leadership about what constitutes ethical freedom of expression. What is good for journalism is also good for others who use the Internet or online media for public communications.

Accountable Journalism
This collaborative project aims to be the world’s largest collection of ethical codes of conduct and press organisations.

The AccountableJournalism.org website has been developed as a resource to on global media ethics and regulation systems, and provides advice on ethical reporting and dealing with hate speech.

Journalist and data media publisher
Shakir Essa

The 5 Principles of Journalism, fact check

The 5 Principles of Ethical Journalism
The core principles of ethical journalism set out below provide an excellent base for everyone who aspires to launch themselves into the public information sphere to show responsibility in how they use information.

There are hundreds of codes of conduct, charters and statements made by media and professional groups outlining the principles, values and obligations of the craft of journalism.

Most focus on five common themes:

Five Core Principles of Journalism
1. Truth and Accuracy
Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corroborate information we should say so.

2. Independence
Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.

3. Fairness and Impartiality
Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.

4. Humanity
Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.

5. Accountability
A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair.

Does journalism need new guidelines?
EJN supporters do not believe that we need to add new rules to regulate journalists and their work in addition to the responsibilities outlined above, but we do support the creation of a legal and social framework, that encourages journalists to respect and follow the established values of their craft.

In doing so, journalists and traditional media, will put themselves in a position to be provide leadership about what constitutes ethical freedom of expression. What is good for journalism is also good for others who use the Internet or online media for public communications.

Accountable Journalism
This collaborative project aims to be the world’s largest collection of ethical codes of conduct and press organisations.

The AccountableJournalism.org website has been developed as a resource to on global media ethics and regulation systems, and provides advice on ethical reporting and dealing with hate speech.

Journalist and data media publisher
Shakir Essa