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The Impact of Middle East Regional Competition on Security and Stability in the Horn of Africa

Author: Gerald M. Feierstein

Affiliation: Middle East Institute

Organization/Publisher: Middle East Institute

Date/Place: August 16, 2020/UK

Type of Literature: Analysis 

Number of Pages: 20


Keywords: Middle East, The Horn of Africa, Regional Competitor


The relations between the Middle East and the Horn of Africa are long-standing, multifaceted, complicated, and connected by the Red Sea which is only 355 km wide between the Arabian Peninsula and Northeast Africa.  Being in the vicinity of strategic waterways, specifically the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea including the Suez Canal, the Horn of Africa has been one of the hotspots of superpower rivalry throughout history. Nowadays, while the world’s attention is focused on the “great power competition” in the region, mainly between the US and China, several rival regional actors have been competing in the Horn of Africa for economic and military influence in the region. The several competing regional players include: Saudi competition with Iran, Saudi/Emirati competition with Turkey/Qatar, Egypt’s struggle to preserve regional dominance,  Egypt’s competition with Ethiopia’s rising regional role, and Saudi competition with the UAE. These competing states are the key drivers of tension and instability in the Horn of Africa as they pursue their interests in the region, from Ethiopia and Sudan to Somalia and Djibouti. While the increasing militarization of the Red Sea region has created a lot of interests in the region and a new nexus of superpower competition, the main drivers of conflicts and instabilities in the region are the regional rivals who in their pursuit of interests have spread and exported their conflicts to the Horn of African countries. 

By: Jemal Muhamed, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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