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The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power

The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power

Alex de Waal

ISBN: 978-0-745-69558-7

Sep 2015, Polity

220 pages

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The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa delves into the business of politics in the turbulent, war-torn countries of north-east Africa. It is a contemporary history of how politicians, generals and insurgents bargain over money and power, and use of war to achieve their goals.

Drawing on a thirty-year career in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, including experience as a participant in high-level peace talks, Alex de Waal provides a unique and compelling account of how these countries’ leaders run their governments, conduct their business, fight their wars and, occasionally, make peace. De Waal shows how leaders operate on a business model, securing funds for their ‘political budgets’ which they use to rent the provisional allegiances of army officers, militia commanders, tribal chiefs and party officials at the going rate. This political marketplace is eroding the institutions of government and reversing statebuildingÑand it is fuelled in large part by oil exports, aid funds and western military assistance for counter-terrorism and peacekeeping.

The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa is a sharp and disturbing book with profound implications for international relations, development and peacemaking in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

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  1. Introduction: Observing the business of power
  2. The Political Marketplace: Politics is Business and Business is Politics
  3. The Horn of Africa: Subcontinental war in three acts
  4. Darfur: The auction of loyalties
  5. Sudan: Managing the unmanageable
  6. South Sudan: The boom and bust of a speculative bubble
  7. Somalia: A post-apocalypse workshop
  8. Somaliland: A business-social contract
  9. Eritrea: A museum of modernism
  10. Ethiopia: Is state-building still possible?
  11. Transnational Patronage: Shadow globalization and the regional marketplace
  12. The Politics of Ideas: Perplexed intellectuals and policymakers

"The foremost Western analyst of the Horn of Africa, Alex de Waal provides a superb account of the region's highly interdependent and often troubling politics. He combines an anthropologist's attention to local contexts with a political economist's analysis of transnational entanglements of markets, power struggles, and war. Often disturbing, even though de Waal seeks reasons to be hopeful, but a must read."
Craig Calhoun, London School of Economics and Political Science

"An outstanding book. The author's knowledge of the topic and region is unrivalled, and enlivened and enlightened by his personal experience and anecdotes"
Pádraig Carmody, Trinity College, Dublin