Horn of Africa

  • Bruton Joins Al Jazeera to Discuss Ethiopia's Current Situation


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  • Foreign Minister Discusses Situation in Ethiopia

    On Thursday, February 15, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia H.E. Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu.

    Atlantic Council Vice President and Africa Center Director Dr. J. Peter Pham welcomed participants and introduced Dr. Workneh, noting that the meeting was happening one day after the Ethiopian government freed thousands of prisoners and just hours after Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his resignation.

    In his remarks, Dr. Workneh gave an overview of Ethiopia’s foreign policy in a regional context, including the country’s role in the South Sudan peace process via the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. He then gave an update on the political situation in Ethiopia, remarking on the government’s agreement—amid massive popular pressure—to make substantial political reforms and allow for more inclusive, democratic governance.

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  • Ethiopia: In the Eye of the Storm

    After overseeing the release on February 13 and 14 of thousands of political challengers to the regime, Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn has resigned amid continuing protests that potentially threaten the survival of the government. (For detailed analysis of those events, read this: https://buff.ly/2GeB15y )

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  • Ethiopia's Prime Minister Steps Down

    On February 15, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned following months of sustained protests and pressure from the country’s aggrieved and marginalized ethnic groups. The country’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), now faces a crisis of leadership as it determines Ethiopia’s next prime minister. This author predicted the imminent ouster of Hailemariam and offered speculation as to the next person to hold that post—including the momentous challenges any new prime minister will face. Above all, Ethiopia’s new leader faces an increasingly emboldened population who demands real political reforms—which will require a painful, and potentially fraught, distribution of economic resources and power away from the TPLF ruling elite. 

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  • Ethiopia: End Game?

    Update: On February 15, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned following months of sustained protests and pressure from the country’s aggrieved and marginalized ethnic groups. The country’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), now faces a crisis of leadership as it determines Ethiopia’s next prime minister. This author predicted the imminent ouster of Hailemariam and offered speculation as to the next person to hold that post—including the momentous challenges any new prime minister will face. Above all, Ethiopia’s new leader faces an increasingly emboldened population who demands real political reforms—which will require a painful, and potentially fraught, distribution of economic resources and power away from the TPLF ruling elite.

    The protest movement playing out in Ethiopia is one of the most consequential conflicts on the African continent – more than any other, it has the potential to upend US policy in the Horn of Africa. It could disrupt counterterrorism efforts in Somalia and reduce the number of peacekeeping troops in South Sudan. But alarmingly, it has barely registered in Washington policy discussions or in the American press.

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  • Ethiopian Dam Stokes Regional Tensions

    Over Egypt’s vocal dissent, Ethiopia is forging ahead with final construction on its ambitious Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River, the lifeblood of nearly 500 million Africans. As the region’s population is expected to double to a whopping one billion people over the next three decades, the dam will become more of a flashpoint in an already volatile region, and the rising political tension bodes poorly for East Africa’s future stability.

    In November, after months of disagreement over the release of an environmental impact study, Egypt withdrew from technical negotiations on the GERD’s construction. Cairo worries that the project gives its upstream neighbor Ethiopia too much control over the Nile, which is Egypt’s primary freshwater resource. Meanwhile, an escalating diplomatic crisis between Egypt and Sudan, ostensibly over water issues but exacerbated by fallout from the Gulf crisis, has hardened the divisions between Egypt and an emerging Ethiopia-Sudan alliance.

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  • Pham Quoted in Financial Times on Somalia's Call for Debt Relief to Fight Terrorism


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  • Bruton Quoted in Cipher Brief on How Continued Deployment of Foreign Troops Causes Tension in Somalia


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  • Bruton Quoted in Newsweek on How Enhanced Authorities Granted by Trump Has Been Detrimental in Somalia


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  • US Strikes on ISIS in Somalia Underscore Threat, Vulnerabilities

    On November 3, the United States carried out two separate airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Somalia, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced in a statement. The operations marked the first time that US forces have targeted ISIS militants in the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa country, where al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab has been the primary focus of American and partner efforts in recent years.

    The strikes also underscore the shift in ISIS’ center of gravity following the group’s losses not only in Iraq and Syria this year, but also the routing of its affiliate in Libya last December. These developments have sent surviving fighters and arms flowing into more remote areas, including the Sahel, where the killing of four US Special Forces troops in an ambush in Niger in October focused attention on the new front lines of the fight. While most of the counterterrorism focus is on North and West Africa, where many ISIS recruits originally came from, the eastern side of the continent presents its own vulnerabilities.

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