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The Search for Peace in the Horn: An Optimistic Note

Horn of Africa Bulletin, November–December 2012

By Dr. Kisiangani Emmanuel
The Horn of Africa has, for some time now, been regarded as one of the most fragile and conflicted regions of the world. Habitually referred to as ‘the Horn”, this loosely defined geopolitical region has seemed to remain in a perpetual state of crises characterized by multiple security threats ranging from protracted civil war in Somalia, deadly intra-state conflicts in the Sudan, social tensions in Kenya, and intermittent interstate animosity between the Sudan and South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, and Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The recent past, however, has witnessed interesting developments. Starting with the power sharing arrangements in Kenya in 2008 and subsequent promulgation of a new constitution in 2010, to South Sudan’s historic independence in 2011, Ethiopia’s peaceful transition from the iconic but authoritarian Meles Zenawi to Haile Mariam Desalegn in 2012, to the optimistic changes in Somalia that saw the election of newcomer Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president in 2012. These events could possibly be regarded as defining moments.

Equally significant is the increased international interest in the region’s hydrocarbons that has raised hopes of an oil boom and the attendant benefits. The question is, are these recent developments a game-changing scenario or merely a case of false hopes and exaggerated expectations? What are the geopolitical and geostrategic implications of these developments? This article will attempt to answer these questions by limiting itself to a few brief macro analyses of some of the recent developments in selected Horn of Africa countries.

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