Horn of Africa leaders meet in Djibouti amid a sea of troubles

It is hard to think of a more difficult background to today’s extraordinary IGAD summit in Djibouti.

These are just some of the critical issues that they confront:

  • Somalia’s government accused Kenya of arming local militia to attack its forces on the border, just days after severing diplomatic ties with its neighbor. The alleged steps can “undermine general security of the Horn of Africa region,” Somalia’s Ministry of Information said in a statement posted to its Twitter account on Saturday.  This came shortly after Kenya announced that it would open a consulate in Somaliland – a move that infuriated the authorities in Mogadishu.
  • The war in Tigray is raging on, with consequences across the region. Eritrea, whose troops are fighting alongside Ethiopian federal forces in an attempt to crush the Tigrayans is not at the IGAD summit. Ethiopian forces have been withdrawn from Somalia, to participate in the Tigray war, leaving the Somali government even more fragile.
  • Rashid Abdi, one of the most well-informed commentators on the Horn, argues that the next development could be the arrival of Eritrean forces in Somalia to help Prime Minister Farmajo.
  • The clashes on the Sudanese-Ethiopian border over the Al Fashaga triangle.  This erupted after Ethiopian troops and Amhara militia withdrew from the area after the start of the Tigray war on 4 November.  There has already been a meeting between Prime Ministers Abiy and Hamdock in Djibouti – although it is not clear what this has achieved.
  • While these issues are critical, others plague the citizens of the Horn – including the problem of Covid and desert locusts. These problems were highlighted by the EU High Representative, but one has to ask oneself whether these issues will be a priority for leaders with so many political crises on their plates.
Prime Ministers Abiy and Farmajo, IGAD summit Djibouti

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