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HomeGeopolitical CompassSub-Saharan AfricaHorn of Africa’s Security Concerns and Economic Crises

Horn of Africa’s Security Concerns and Economic Crises

Author: Gregory Aftandilian

Affiliation: Arab Center Washington DC, American University, Boston University (adjunct faculty), George Mason University (adjunct faculty), formerly worked for Senate Foreign Relations Committee and US Department of State.

Organization/Publisher: Arab Center Washington DC

Date/Place: April 27, 2022/USA

Type of Literature: Opinion Article

Word Count: 2393



Keywords: Climate Change, Civil War, Famine, Foreign Powers, Economic Crisis




The Horn of Africa has suffered hardships as a result of foreign intervention, climate change and political crises in various forms. Yemen’s civil war is the region’s extreme manifestation of such problems, as Saudi intervention along with its imposed blockade has magnified the Yemeni civil war’s effects and driven almost half the country to starvation. Across the Bab al-Mandab strait, Eritrea has one of the most repressive regimes in the region, one that is subjecting its population to forced labor. Sudan is not faring better after its military coup; the military-led government hopes that joining the Abraham Accords would attract foreign support and avoid pressure by anti-coup protest. Meanwhile, Somalia is dealing with secession from the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland, as the rest of the country is dealing with al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda while trying to juggle a struggling democratic government to get to work. To add to the misery, climate change will cause droughts to be more frequent in a region that already struggles with pre-existing ones, and the increasing supply-chain problems is also making food supplies less abundant which has caused price spikes. The region is witnessing an increase in foreign intervention under the pretext of protecting global supply lines passing through Bab al-Mandab; several countries such as China, the UAE and Turkey have built bases to secure interests and advance their respective economic projects. The region is in need of sustainable economic foundations and resolutions for political issues, so building military bases and arms deals are not the way to go for a positive outcome. 

Critical Commentary: The author gives a summary explanation of the problems faced by states in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region, both on internal and external issues of political and economic nature. The author seems critical of foreign intervention and claims its overall lack of benefit for the region, but he does not distinguish Foreign Direct Investment and infrastructure projects from corrupt intervention and resource exploitation (such as illegal Chinese fishing along Somalia). The author is also silent on the stance that a power like the US has on a country like Yemen—the US has continued its support for Saudi Arabia despite the latter’s systematic efforts to level Yemen to the ground and starve its people to submission. The Abraham Accords is mentioned briefly but its role as a tool used to bribe Sudan in favor of pro-US regional policies is not mentioned. Silence on instances such as these and other actions of predatory behavior by powerful countries does not give a comprehensive image of how the situation is in the Horn of Africa, nor does it help in coming up with effective solutions.

By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Assistant



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