Crisis in the Horn of Africa: politics, piracy and the threat of terror, Peter Woodward Peter Woodward will be known to many as a long-time historian of the Horn of Africa and particularly Sudan, where his Sudan, 1898-1989: the unstable state is an essential work. His newest book is an overview of the entire region with a sexed-up title, probably seeking to play in to the hands of the so-called ‘policymakers’ eager to find assistance on approaching issues of strategic interest, notably, Islamic terrorism and maritime security. They may be somewhat disappointed. Woodward’s book is a somewhat drier (and better) affair, comprised by a short history of each of the countries in the region (Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, with Eritrea and Djibouti sharing a chapter), and including broader sections on ‘The Evolution of the Horn’, ‘Regional Relations’ and ‘International politics.’ It is more a history of the Horn within an evolving international system, than a focus on any particular ‘hot button’ issues. Woodward is a writer of traditionally scholarly style and is always eager to comment on the development of a body of literature which influenced the way in which the outside world has considered the Horn. For example, that […]
For several years, combat along the tense Eritrean-Ethiopian frontier has been entirely rhetorical. This changed on March 16th, 2012 when the Ethiopian government boldly announced that it had crossed into Eritrean territory in an attack on three military installations. Citing Asmara’s role in the January death and abduction of European tourists in Ethiopia’s Afar region, Ethiopia’s retaliation represented the first direct military confrontation between Eritrea and Ethiopia since the 1998-2000 border war. Coincidentally, these events came one month before the 10th anniversary of the delimitation decision of the Eritrean Ethiopian Boundary Commission. The EEBC was the product of the Algiers Accord, which formally ended the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by referring the border dispute to arbitration. The EEBC’s findings should have been the final chapter in the bloody border row between the two countries, but instead, gave the dispute new momentum. The crux of the problem was that Ethiopia rejected the EEBC’s decision when it realized that Badme, the small piece of disputed territory that triggered the border war, and which it had acquired at a high human cost, had been awarded to Eritrea. Addis later accepted the decision “in principle,” but demanded negotiations on the normalization of relations before it would […]
Horn of Africa: Hostage to conflict – security and economic interdependence – By Sally Healy, Chatham House
Sally Healy is Associate Fellow, Africa Programme at Chatham House – she is the author of the recent report Hostage to conflict: prospects for building regional economic cooperation in the Horn of Africa The IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) region continues to raise the bar on standards of regional activism and intervention. Political manoeuvring around Somalia has intensified. Uganda, Burundi and Kenya all have troops on the ground and Djiboutian forces will join them shortly. At its recent summit, IGAD called upon Ethiopia to support operations in the country. In Sudan too there are Ethiopian forces on the ground, operating in a peacekeeping role in Abyei on the disputed border. Tremendous unresolved problems exist between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan, which are not making much headway in negotiations to resolve them. Meanwhile, relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea remain frozen. Situation normal. Regional insecurity has become such an entrenched feature of politics in the Horn of Africa that it’s sometimes hard to imagine what peaceful cooperation in the region would look like. But we should not lose sight of regional economic relations. There is an interesting juxtaposition of two things – the dynamic of conflict and disintegration in the […]
The Kenyan government’s decision to invade Somalia was preceded by an ambiguous encounter that received comparatively little coverage. In mid-October, a supposed member of Al-Qaeda, curiously claiming to be from the USA, was seen to be handing out food, clothing and copies of the Koran to famine refugees in the Ala-Yasir camp south-west of Mogadishu. Such an obvious ‘diplomatic’ gesture was certainly a rare one. Given that Al-Qaeda also operates on a somewhat fractured basis, one might also speculate as to whether the figure (who claimed to be in Somalia on behalf of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri) might have merely been inspired, rather than directed, by the organisations leadership. Links between individual fighters can’t strictly be said to always point to a major sense of organisational unity between the two at the highest levels. Yet in many ways this was rather predictable – not just because since 2007 al-Shabaab have done little to hide their ideological sympathies with their brethren across the water, but also because it points to the increasing usage of smaller groups in the Horn by larger players both within and outside East Africa. Al-Shabaab’s priorities may be inward-looking, concerned with wrenching full control away from […]
The accusations made against Eritrea of plotting to bomb this year’s African Union summit were alarming for many reasons. First and foremost, they illustrate how much the government is willing to draw on other extremist groups in the region to help achieve its aims. The country was accused of planning an attack that would have resulted in the killing of delegates from a wealth of African nations, and this implies their aims have extended to other parts of the Horn, if not to the world at large. Asmara claimed, as always, the accusations were completely fictitious. But among those arrested in connection with the plot was a member of the Ethiopia-based Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Omar Idriss Mohamed. By Maddy Fry Mohamed maintained that those involved sought not to target other African leaders but rather to simply use the Addis-based summit as a way to weaken confidence within the Ethiopian state. While Asmara’s previous activities had been limited to causing direct damage within the borders of its larger neighbour, the plot, if true, suggests even if its aims are unchanged its methods are not. Eritrea is now seeking to tap into wider networks across East Africa in order to further […]
In April 1992, the Provisional Government of Eritrea enacted the Referendum Proclamation and the Eritrean Nationality Proclamation, created a Referendum Commission and fixed the date of the referendum for April 1993. The two proclamations provided for enabling legal and administrative frameworks that facilitated the registration of Eritreans as well as the conduct and supervision of the referendum.
The first question asked during the drafting of the proclamations was: “Who Votes?” The answer: “an Eritrean”, only led to the next obvious question: “Who is an Eritrean?” The answer was found in an Italian colonial decree on Eritrean “subjects” which defined as Eritrean all persons, with the exception of Italian “citizens”, residing in the country before the end of 1933. This then was the basis for the Eritrean Nationality Law.