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The power shift in the Horn of Africa undermines the influence of Kenya


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At the beginning of this century, the then editor of the Foreign Affairs Journal, published James Fulton Hoge Jr., rightly stated that the global "transfer of power from West to East" "dramatically changes the context for dealing with international challenges as well as the challenges themselves" ( Foreign Affairs, July / August 2004). [1

9659005] In the Horn of Africa, the return to peace and the collapse of sedentary dictatorial regimes brings with it a great shift in power.

It also questions in a profound and tangible way the influence of Kenya in the region over the past five decades.

The old regional balance of power, which maintained Kenya's regional influence, rested on three pillars. One was a strategic alliance, a mutual defense pact ratified by the two countries in December 1963 with descendants of the Solomonic dynasty. The Kenyan-Ethiopian Defense Pact, which sought to curb the territorial and power aspirations of an increasingly militaristic and expansionist Somalia, ensured that Kenya and Ethiopia co-existed as two regional powers, working together in a power doubling without competition for legitimacy or influence. Secondly, this power doubling is based on the 1996 establishment of the Government Development Agency (IGAD). Third, the doubling of power between Ethiopia and Kenya within the IGAD has given the two powers a huge impact on the African Union and its peace and security architecture (APSA). This allowed them to maintain the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that led the war on terrorism in Somalia.

Unfortunately, this old regional security regime seems to be falling apart. The relative peace after the end of the civil wars in Ethiopia and Somalia in recent decades, coupled with the thawing of historical power conflicts, especially between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, has shifted the power axis to new alliances.

Power is gradually shifting to Eritrea and its allies in Ethiopia and Somalia after the Civil War. Eritrea is one of the few surviving nationalist and revolutionary regimes in Africa, which emerged from 1961 to 1991 from the ashes of a long war of independence against Ethiopia. She has a messianic self-confidence in the Ethiopian state and claims to have made a special contribution to ending the Ethiopian civil war and securing post-war power.

Following the victory over the Ethiopian forces in Eritrea, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), the Revolutionary Democratic Popular Front of Ethiopia (EPRDF), a coalition of Ethiopian rebels, conquered Addis Ababa in 1991 and established an interim government. Although Eritrea declared its independence and international recognition in 1993, it came to wars of domination and hostility between EPRDF and EPLF triggers of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War (1998-2000), a low intensity border conflict (2000-2018) and complex proxy wars.

Three developments have shifted the power axis in favor of a resurgent détente between Ethio and Eritrea. One is the rise of Abiy Ahmed Ali as Prime Minister in Ethiopia and EPRDF leader on April 2, 2018, which paved the way for two powerful allies in the Ethiopian Civil War to unite in regional power politics.

On July 9, Afwerki and Abiy signed the historic peace treaty between Eritrea and Ethiopia (2018), which formally ended the border dispute, hostilities, and proxy wars between the two countries and restored diplomatic relations. Third, the election of Mohamed Abdullahi (Farmajo) as President Somalia in 2017 announced the resurgence of Somali supremacist ethnopolitism and pan-Somali nationalism as an organizing principle in Somalia's regional relations.

After July 2018, Farmajo Afwerki and Abiy joined with the idea of ​​a New Horn as a link for the trio. The abolition of longtime Sudanese strong Omar El-Bashir on 11 April 2019 has left Afwerki as the leading and arguably the most influential politician in the Horn of Africa. In a rare case in which authoritarianism supports and secures the liberal reforms, Afwerkis Eritrea, touted in the media as "North Korea of ​​Africa," is the guarantee of stability in Ethiopia.

Here, Abiys comprehensive political and economic reforms have their dissatisfaction. especially Ethiopian federalists and the Tigrayans – the EPRDF's ethnic partners, who now feel that Abiyy's upheaval in the Ethiopian state is selectively targeting the Tigrayans. Horn & # 39 ;, the future of Kenya's influence as a regional peacemaker and stability guarantor, is entering the focus.

The rise of the idea of ​​the New Horn is largely based on a pan-ethnic idea of ​​the "Cushitic Alliance" (Oromo and Somalis), the IGAD and the regional consensus it has represented poses an existential ideological challenge. Second, Ethiopia and Eritrea – with its great remnants from the fight against Ethiopia – are seeking a new role as a military ally for Farmajo.

This raises serious questions about the future of AMISOM, in particular its contingents from Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and Burudi, as well as the actual war against al-Shabaab terrorists.

Third, Ethiopia has increased since the takeover of Abiy (42). Ethiopia seems to overshadow Kenya as the only regional peacemaker.

Following the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Sudan, which killed dozens of people on 3 June 2019, Ethiopia has tightened its peace diplomacy. In fact, Ethiopia has also taken steps to mediate peace between Kenya and Somalia over the smoldering series.

Finally, the shifting of power at Horn Somalia in terms of its claim to Kenyan waters in an unfolding time has encouraged an existential challenge for the country.

If the ICJ votes in favor of Somalia in the coming months, experts are annoyed that Kenya will not only lose 62,000 square kilometers of its waters in the Indian Ocean.

There is also a risk of losing access to international waters and becoming a "landlocked" country.

Professor Peter Kagwanja is a former government consultant and currently managing director of the Institute for African Policy (Kenya).

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