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The relative autonomy of coastal Horn of Africa states in their relations with Gulf countries
Aleksi Ylönen

The chapter discusses the relations between three coastal Horn of Africa states; Eritrea; Somalia and Sudan; and leading Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and their rivals in the context of the Saudi-Iran competition; war in Yemen and Qatar diplomatic crisis. In an attempt to understand the motivations and strategies of leaderships in the three coastal Horn states in their engagement with the GCC countries; it focuses on the recent intensifying relations across the Red Sea. The chapter argues that in spite of their weaknesses; the regimes in the Horn of Africa have been able to maintain sufficient autonomy in their external relations to take advantage of the GCC overtures in a variable degree. The extent to which they have adjusted and diversified their foreign relations appears to be largely dictated by their need to prioritise regime survival against primarily domestic threats.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Abstract only
The politics and purpose of United Arab Emirates economic statecraft in the Horn of Africa
Karen E. Young and Taimur Khan

This chapter addresses the interaction of Gulf state security and investment strategy within the Gulf states’ near abroad in the Horn of Africa, with a particular focus on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its deployment of economic statecraft. Economic statecraft is using economic means to achieve foreign policy ends. It is economic policy deliberately formulated to promote the foreign policy goals of the state. Economic statecraft applies economic means to ends that may or may not be economic, whereas foreign economic policy encompasses means that may or may not be economic in the service of economic ends. This chapter untangles some of the foreign policy objectives of UAE investment and military intervention in the region, with a view of the ‘complex realism’ inherent in its policy formulation process. Both regional and domestic politics, along with great power concerns, have animated Emirati foreign aid and intervention, particularly after 2011 and the ensuing unrest in the region. Moreover, there do seem to be policy experimentation and a learning curve in effect.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Interests, influences and instability
Editors: Robert Mason and Simon Mabon

This volume explores the complex nature of interactions between states in the Persian Gulf and their counterparts in the Horn of Africa. Focusing on the nature of interregional connections between the Gulf and the Horn; it explores the multifaceted nature of relations between two increasingly important subregions. Bringing together scholars focusing on both regions; the book offers a rigorous analysis of the changing nature of relations between the different subregions and also the complexity of competition within each subregion. Considering strategic competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran; along with international engagement such as joint anti-piracy operations; counterterrorism cooperation; shipping routes; and economic development; the volume provides valuable insight into the strategic importance of these interactions.

Drawing on a range of subject expertise and field research across case study countries; the volume adds to the sparse literature on the regional and international politics of the Horn of Africa and Red Sea; gleaning specific insights through contemporary reflections across the book.

Turkish and Emirati engagement in the Horn of Africa
Umer Karim

The Horn of Africa occupies an important strategic position overlooking the Bab el-Mandeb strait. The new political and security dynamics emerging between the Horn and the Middle East can be better understood by exploring the idea of interregional embedded security, which essentially is a critique and complication of the regional security complex (RSC) theorization. A plethora of Middle Eastern states have initiated political and security engagement with Horn of Africa states; but the most prominent among them, and critical in terms of their impacts, have been Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the Turkish case the focus remains on cementing strong economic linkages with the countries in the region and positioning itself as a principal trade partner while also investing in a strategic manner to reap not only economic rewards but also the political prestige that comes from successful engagement with fragile regions and failed states. The UAE’s political objectives remain largely security oriented. This engagement works well to elevate the UAE’s political status from a Gulf commercial hub to a middle-sized power with a capability to impact upon the strategic and security environment of the both Middle East and Horn of Africa.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Abstract only
Robert Mason

For millennia, the Red Sea has been one of the main bodies of water which has facilitated trade, connected ancient kingdoms and ports, and become a linchpin of maritime supremacy, security and control. Today that calculation for states with interests spanning the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean has not changed. This chapter charts the evolution of historic, Cold War, and emerging superpower competition, and dissects the political and security preferences within the Horn of Africa, including economic choices vis-à-vis China and states’ search for relative autonomy in the international system. It also asserts that a resurgent Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (primarily linked to their threat perception and participation in the Yemen conflict) and Egypt (primarily due to its national security concerns such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) represent challenges and opportunities for the Horn of Africa states.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Between expansionist ambitions and hegemonic constraints
Eric Lob

Based on extensive fieldwork in Iran, this chapter examines the Islamic Republic of Iran’s (IRI) developmental activities in Africa as a window into its foreign policy on the continent. Under the direction of the rightists or conservatives beginning in the mid-1980s, Iran instrumentalised development to establish and strengthen diplomatic and commercial relations with Africa. During the rise of the pragmatists and the reformists between the late 1980s and the mid-2000s, the IRI continued its developmental activities on the continent to repair its image, showcase its technical capabilities, and elevate its status as a developmental patron state in a hierarchical global system. With the ascendancy of the hardliners or principlists between the mid and late 2000s, the IRI’s expanded developmental activities in Africa helped to mitigate its isolation, balance against the United States, evade and delegitimise its sanctions, and expand Iran’s nuclear programme and military presence. Complementing and supplementing the IRI’s military, diplomatic, ideological, and commercial activities, development served as an effective and promising means for Iran to make deep inroads into Africa while also exposing Tehran’s hegemonic constraints and geostrategic interests inside and beyond the continent.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Mara A. Leichtman

Policy analysis has begun to examine Africa as a new arena for competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran; often ignoring the history of inter-regional connections. Whereas GCC countries are frequently evaluated as a bloc; Kuwait’s interests in Africa have differed considerably from its neighbours. Named ‘an international humanitarian centre’ by the United Nations; Kuwait’s relations with Africa have been at multiple levels of state policy; civil society; and individual donors. Kuwait developed the first national development fund in the region immediately after its independence in 1961. Kuwaiti NGOs have been sponsoring charitable and development activities throughout Africa since the 1980s. A small state aware of its vulnerability; in particular following the 1990-91 Iraqi invasion; Kuwait has given generously and strategically to other nations as part of its foreign policy. Poorer countries have much to offer in return; ranging from soldiers to political clout; Kuwait was elected in 2017 to the UN Security Council with considerable African support.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Brendon J. Cannon and Ash Rossiter

This chapter traces patterns of external involvement in the security affairs of the Horn of Africa states and the effect this has had – and continues to have – on the economic, political, and security dynamics of the region. By analysing external involvement in the region we provide the context necessary to judge whether the actions of various Arab Gulf states are enhancing or detracting from those of other powers operating in the Horn, such as the United States, Russia, Turkey, China, Israel, and Egypt. This allows us to better assess the extent to which the Arab Gulf states’ involvement – which has become heightened in recent years – displays similar characteristics to the past actions of other actors. We demonstrate that in current discussions about increased external security involvement in the Horn – by the Arab Gulf states or other players – little attention has been given to the agendas, interests and motives of Horn states and their governments that make up the region. We argue that Horn of Africa states have shown adeptness in currying the attention of external states for the purpose of furthering their own regional interests.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Saudi and Iranian competition in the Horn of Africa
Robert Mason

This chapter draws attention to a series of developments which have impacted on the policy of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Horn of Africa, including: bilateral tensions; the policies of regional and international rivals or adversaries; the logistical requirements of the Yemen conflict; the drop in the international oil price; the economic impact of COVID-19 and sanctions. Employing a case study approach, the chapter identifies the leading dynamics at play in each Horn of Africa state, how these have evolved, and what role non-state actors such as Hezbollah and intergovernmental organisations such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Red Sea Forum play in obstructing or extending cooperation. The chapter concludes with a note on proximity and the Red Sea serving as a potential fulcrum for an interregional security complex.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa
Qatar–Gulf crisis and the Horn of Africa
Abdinor Dahir

In June 2017 Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt broke diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade. Following the crisis, a fierce competition to win allies has ensued among many parties across the world, including in the Horn of Africa. While Djibouti and Eritrea supported the blockading countries, Sudan and Somalia adopted a neutral position, with Ethiopia and Kenya expressing concern. This chapter examines how the Qatar–Gulf crisis has put the Horn, especially Somalia, in a precarious situation. First, it provides a brief overview of Qatar’s diplomatic activism in the Horn, with particular reference to Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti. Second, it provides insights into the competition for influence in Somalia during the Qatar–Gulf spat. In this part, the chapter also outlines Somalia’s neutral stance and its repercussions. Third, it explores the implications of the Gulf spat on overall regional security and stability. It concludes with how the stand-off could scale back the strategic interests of the Arab Gulf states in the Horn, such as the security of the Bab el-Mandeb, anti-piracy, and counterterrorism operations, the counter-Iran/Houthi efforts, as well as food security. The study aims to contribute fresh ideas to the current discussions on foreign engagements in the Horn in general and Gulf states in particular.

in The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa