Horn of Africa Bulletin Vol 30 Issue 2 March-April 2018
Maritime insecurity has tended to be side-lined in conventional thinking on peace and security in the Horn. ‘Sea-blindness’ as a factor in peace and security policy deliberations has the effect of downgrading the criticality of the maritime domain to the security of states and the human security of their citizens. In the Horn, maritime insecurity only emerged as a key issue in policy and public discourse with the onset of piracy in the waters off the coast of Somalia in the years 2002-2012, and consequent international response. The article by Dr. Egede discusses the 2050 AIM Strategy and draws attention to aspects which represent progress in terms of maritime policy especially in expanding the focus on Africa’s blue economy. The article by van den Berg and Meesters offers an overview of what they refer to as the ‘securitisation of port politics’ in the Horn of Africa. Their article emphasises the close and mutually reinforcing linkages between the commercial-economic drivers of the external/non-African interest in the ports in the Horn and the rush to establish a military-naval presence in the region. The following article by Ferras adopts a somewhat distinctive approach in emphasising the gaps or weaknesses of IGAD member states in the maritime force projection sphere. The author argues that the inability of IGAD member states to exert control over their maritime domain coupled with the emergence of sources of maritime insecurity which threaten both maritime trade routes critical to the global economy and the security of adjacent regions, has resulted in a race by external powers to establish a military-naval presence in the region. The article by Tesfay is a take on maritime security issues from the perspective of a landlocked state. Tesfay points out that Ethiopia with its rapidly expanding population and fast-growing economy relies on a single foreign port for the bulk of its imports and exports: a situation which has led sections within the political elite and public opinion in Ethiopia to perceive the situation as precarious and untenable in the long run. The article identifies the expanding external military-naval presence in the ports and coasts of the region as key areas of concern and elaborates on the inextricable linkages between the securitisation of port politics in the region and potential tensions with Egypt and certain GCC states. The article by Amin discusses the implications of the recent Berbera port agreement between Ethiopia, Somaliland and the Dubai-based Dubai Ports World (DP World). The article analyses the implications of the agreement and formulates several scenarios following from the agreement. Amin argues that the agreement will have destabilising effects in Somalia and the larger region, in terms of weakening the Federal Government of Somalia and in effect constitutes a form of de-facto recognition of the breakaway entity.