Starting at the top, one of the most striking things about the Horn and the Red Sea is that there is no regional organization that can grapple with its security challenges. The African Union does not cross the Red Sea. The InterGovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) includes the countries of the Horn, but not Egypt — an historic powerbroker, with strategic interests in the Nile and the Red Sea — and also is confined to the African shore. The Arab League is not effective, which is one reason why the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has taken the lead in the Yemeni intervention, and is using financial muscle to win African countries to support its operations, rather than multilateral diplomacy. Ethiopia, the pivotal state of the Horn, is landlocked and keenly fears being surrounded by hostile states backed by historic rivals such as Egypt.
In the absence of any Red Sea forum or similar peace and security mechanism, the EU can play a role as convenor of the overlapping multilateralisms of the various regional organizations that between them could provide the needed forum for defining and addressing the region’s problems.Continue Reading →
In the next few months, the African Union is set to choose its next Chairperson: the woman or man who will lead the Commission and guide the entire continent for the next four years, or possibly eight. It’s a hugely important post, and Africans should care who fills it.
The Chairperson is in charge of […]Continue Reading →
Back in 2002, Meles Zenawi, then prime minister of Ethiopia, drafted a foreign policy and national security white paper for his country. Before finalizing it, he confided to me a “nightmare scenario” — not included in the published version — that could upend the balance of power in the Horn of Africa region.
The scenario went like this: Sudan is partitioned into a volatile south and an embittered north. The south becomes a sinkhole of instability, while the north is drawn into the Arab orbit. Meanwhile, Egypt awakens from its decades-long torpor on African issues and resumes its historical stance of attempting to undermine Ethiopia, with which it has a long-standing dispute over control of the Nile River. It does so by trying to bring Eritrea and Somalia into its sphere of influence, thereby isolating the government in Addis Ababa from its direct neighbors. Finally, Saudi Arabia begins directing its vast financial resources to support Ethiopia’s rivals and sponsor Wahhabi groups that challenge the traditionally dominant Sufis in the region, generating conflict and breeding militancy within the Muslim communities.Continue Reading →
Winning the peace in the Horn of Africa — and its neighbors across the huge arc of turbulence from the Maghreb to Central Asia — means studying the warlord’s playbook, updated for the 21st century. Countries beset by factionalism, corruption and violence can’t be fixed with the 20th century tool kit of peace talks leading to new constitutions, plus using aid to build institutions, backed by U.N. peacekeepers. Worse, the U.S. strategy of outsourcing counter-terrorism programs to regional proxies just funnels ready cash into precisely the most skilled and ruthless operators in the political marketplace, as well as giving them the means for repression.Continue Reading →
The engagement of the AU Presidential delegation belies the negative reading of the AU’s decision at its January summit not to authorize military intervention against Burundi’s wishes. Decried as a crass example of allowing ‘sovereignty’ to trump human rights concerns, the decision warrants revisiting in light of the AUs continued efforts to support political engagement. This is precisely the goal of our new occasional paper by Solomon Derrso, “To Intervene or Not to Intervene: An inside view of the AU’s decision-making on Article 4(h) and Burundi.” The insights apply not only to Burundi today, but also to how the AU may interpret its Article 4(h), allowing for non-consensual armed interventions in certain circumstances, in future cases.Continue Reading →
South Sudanese are deeply respectful of the dead, and are always determined to ensure that their loved ones are buried with proper ceremony, and their spirits are propitiated. The site of a massacre is not just a human rights violation, but a spiritual disaster.Continue Reading →
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