July 11-13, 2023, Cambridge UK

3 DAYS / 10 Workshops
MORE THAN 200 ACADEMIC PAPERS

The Gulf States in East Africa: Security, Economic and Strategic Partnerships?

Religious linkages, anti-piracy cooperation, and investments in vast swathes of fertile agricultural land have long been the primarily bases for Gulf State engagement in subSahara Africa. After the Arab Uprisings when Gulf petrodollars were channeled to front line states such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria, there has been a relatively new and deepening strategic relationship between some Gulf States and their counterparts in Africa, especiall ...


Religious linkages, anti-piracy cooperation, and investments in vast swathes of fertile agricultural land have long been the primarily bases for Gulf State engagement in subSahara Africa. After the Arab Uprisings when Gulf petrodollars were channeled to front line states such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria, there has been a relatively new and deepening strategic relationship between some Gulf States and their counterparts in Africa, especially in the Horn of Africa. Indeed, the Horn of Africa is rapidly emerging as a critical aspect in Gulf foreign policy making calculations and is facilitating a new broadening or internationalization of the Gulf security complex. Since the onset of the Yemen conflict, establishing exclusive spheres of influence, enhancing military cooperation, and diplomatic support have become an important part of Gulf security but has upset the existing balance of power in East Africa. Whether that's the Qatar – GCC crisis and the impact of Qatar withdrawing its peacekeeping forces from the EritreaDjibouti border, or Sudan suddenly ending decades of close economic, security and political cooperation with Iran in favour of Saudi Arabia, the dynamics at play could be consequential or even critical for all actors concerned. 

Across the Horn of Africa, where state borders have collapsed and domestic and regional politics have become intertwined, the region has become increasingly penetrated by actors from the Gulf, who seek to exert their own influence across an increasingly fragmented area. Although Gulf State - Horn of Africa relations have been dominated by the former, given the changes to strategic thinking following the Yemen conflict, the region is assuming a greater importance in Gulf capitals. Whilst the long term significance of these relationships may be less strategic than other regions and trends in the macro-environment, their impact on local conflicts and the regional balance of power is highly significant. Sudan was historically an important ally of Iran, especially in supplying arms to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Sudan had allowed 3 Iranian ships to dock in 2012, but has formed renewed and revitalized relations with Saudi Arabia after Sudan expelled Iranian officials in 2014. Riyadh has influenced the U.S. to lift some economic sanctions against Omar al-Bashir in 2015 and has since invested in 1 million agricultural hectares. Sudan is now part of a security belt for the KSA. Eritrea and Somalia have proved to be sympathetic with Iran which was useful for Iran to threaten international shipping in Bab al-Mandeb. Apart from presence in Eritrea and links to Al-Shabab, Iran is allegedly looking to establish more Hezbollah-type groups in West Africa as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq, and now Syria. The Struggle for influence has been between Saudi Arabia/Egypt and Iran. Saudi Arabia has clear relationship with Ethiopia based on water, agriculture and livestock (complicated by Egypt - Ethiopia tensions over the Nile), but respective relations with Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti could change. Saudi engagement is primarily about Iran, but Egypt remains suspicious of Saudi motivations to develop a military presence in Djibouti for example. The emerging issue is not only about Iran, but about how the crisis with Qatar has created new instabilities in the Horn of Africa especially. With this in mind, when considering future trajectories, much depends on the resolution/escalation of the Yemen conflict. The workshop is intended to contextualise the role of Gulf relations in East Africa and look ahead to developing relations in certain states in West Africa. Attention may also be paid to key GCC partners on the African continent more generally and what impact they may have through multilateral mechanisms to effect change. In doing so, we seek to understand the motivations behind engagement in the Horn of Africa, the means through which such influence is exerted, and the extent to which issues in both the Gulf and Horn impact upon one another. 




Share on



More

Details


Workshop

Directors


Dr. Robert

Mason

Non-Resident Fellow -
The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington



Dr. Simon

Mabon

Lecturer in Politics, Philosophy and Religion and Director -
Richardson Institute, Lancaster University


Copyright ©️ 2009 - 2023 Gulf Research Centre Cambridge. All rights reserved.
Terms, Conditions and Privacy Policy