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2011:The Year of the Horn

The Horn of African region remains the locus of some of the long-running wars and local conflicts which are becoming sources of domestic turmoil and regional instability. Specially, the years 2010-12 will be extremely critical for the sub-region.The current analyst will devote a great deal of time to provide an assessment of the regional situation as it unfolds. Black clouds are gathering momentum. Somalia is in a jam, Sudan is struggling to survive as a country, there will be elections in Uganda and Ethiopia, Eritrea is in laser-type of downward spiral. Current developments will undoubtedly lead to a shift in the axis of power in the Horn of Africa and the Nile Valley and the 2010/11 will most probably define the region for good or for worse.

The site will discuss in detail the situation in each country and what this may entail for the sub-region, rather than seeing domestic developments in their internal context. To this effect background materials and analysis will be posted in the coming weeks on each of the following, aimed at initiating discussion. 


After more than two decades without a central government, Somalia continues to be a problem for itself and its neighbors. Despite the formation of a National Unity Government in Djibouti, central and southern Somalia is still in perpetual anarchy and deeper causes of the Somali conflict remain unresolved. The new government is also facing difficulty to establish itself in Mogadishu. The Somali crisis has deeper roots than the collapse of the state in 1991. Why is a resolution of the conflict in Mogadishu so difficult? Is this attributed to the spread of radical Islam linked to the age-old clan structure? Or is the vulnerability a function of the political economy? If so what can be done to overcome the problem? Is Somalia still a manageable ‘neighborhood’ crisis or is it in the process of graduating into a global problem?


Somaliland proved to be a success in adversity. It is the only Muslim country in the sub-region, if not beyond, that managed to enrich negotiated settlement of intractable disputes and achieve relative peace. Somaliland is not only secular and stable, but prides itself, quite correctly, for experiencing multi-party democracy, a vibrant civil society, credible media, and legitimate political institutions created by interfacing modern and traditional mechanisms. Strengthening secular institutions could serve as a bulwark against the firestorm of radicalization and international Jihad. Given the relative stability in Somaliland, should formal recognition be extended to the breakaway state? The notes in this site will document and analyze the reasons behind Somaliland’s fragile success story.


Sudan has been at war, on and off for almost half a century. But currently there is, quite belatedly, some momentum for peace, mainly with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement/CPA/. How solid is the search for peace? Most importantly, is the CPA alive or dead? Can lasting peace be achieved without transforming the present autohoritan nature of the political leaderships into more democratic and participatory systems? Can Sudan expect stability over the coming years? If so, how might this be impacting on the region? What is the role of the international community, particularly Sudan’s neighbors in helping to ensure that the CPA is durable and that its provisions are respected? This forum will discuss in detail what peace, or the lack of it, in Sudan and what this may entail for the sub-region.

Eritrea-Ethiopia Conflict

One major impediment which stands in the way of a workable peace and security order in the Horn of African sub-region is the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The 1998-2000 Eritrea-Eritrean conflict is formally settled but the crisis continued unresolved. Apparently, the border dispute and the armed/political conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia are not one and the same. The ruling of the Ethiopia Eritrea Border Commission further complicated the search for peace between the two countries. The two governments are not only suspicious to each other, but remain highly militarized, which has sustained unpredictability in the possibility of a détente. What are the next steps for defusing the tension and manage the crisis? How is the situation related to the political developments and nature of the political systems in each? What are the prospects and workable approaches for any form of reconciliation and normalization of relations? This site will focus not only on the mechanisms to be applied to diffuse the tension but on the long-term approaches to be adopted for the sustainable resolution of the conflict.


Since the change of government in 1991, Ethiopia has embarked on an ethnic based federal system with a view to resolving the “question of nationalities”. The 1995 constitution declares Ethiopia as a multicultural state. The country is bracing itself for elections, yet another important test for its transition to democracy. Democratization in the largest states in Africa is a prerequisite for a robust regional peace and security order. What is the dynamic between federalism, democratic elections and peace and stability in Ethiopia? In what ways would it decide the form and legitimate stage of national politics in the country? The notes in the site are particularly concerned with constructing an analytical framework for understanding the federal arrangement in Ethiopia, aimed at stimulating discussion and policy recommendations

Click here for background papers

Somali background Paper I.pdf 

Sm Background paper 2.pdf 

Somalia Background 3-latestSomalia Analysis.pdf

Sheikh Sherif's TFG:Thirtheen Months ON


The Nile

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 May 2010 11:55



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