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The Horn of Africa

Kidane Mengisteab

ISBN: 978-0-745-67235-9 December 2013 Polity 240 Pages


The Horn of Africa is a deeply troubled region engulfed in three interlocking crises. The first is a security crisis characterized by a range of devastating inter-state and inter-communal conflicts, including civil wars. The second is an economic crisis, evidenced by widespread debilitating poverty, chronic food insecurity, and frequent cycles of famines. The effects of the third - environmental - crisis are all too visible in the droughts, deforestation and desertification ravaging the region. What is more, these three crises are mutually reinforcing locking the region into a cycle of disaster. Conflicts contribute to poverty, which in turn intensifies environmental degradation, leading to scarcities which fuel further conflicts. 

In this clear and authoritative guide, Kidane Mengisteab explores the key drivers of instability in the Horn of Africa, suggesting structural and institutional changes that - if implemented - could help lift the region out of crisis. The Horn’s complex crises must be tackled in a comprehensive manner. But, he contends, this can only be achieved if the causes of conflict are addressed head-on. Without peace, the region cannot resolve its economic problems, and nor can it develop the capabilities required to cope with environmental change. 

The Horn of Africa will be essential reading for students and scholars in conflict and security studies, as well as anyone with an interest in learning more about the dynamics of this troubled region

Abbreviations vi

Map of the Horn of Africa ix

Acknowledgements x

1 The Greater Horn of Africa: Hot Spot in the Global System 1

2 Conflicts in the Greater Horn 9

3 The Legacy of Empires 42

4 The State as a Source of Conflict 60

5 Failures of Governance and Nation-Building 84

6 Regional Instability and External Intervention 111

7 Poor Resource Management and Environmental Degradation 151

8 Prospects for Democracy, Integration and Stability 182

Notes 209

Bibliography 217

Index 244

A detailed analysis of the inter-related economic, security and environmental crises affecting one of the world’s most troubled regions
Advocates a comprehensive approach to the region’s problems, emphasising the complex relationships between factors often seen as separate
Sets out a range of recommendations for structural and institutional changes that, taken together, could help alleviate the dilemmas facing the Horn
The perfect introduction for students seeking a clear understanding of the key problems and dynamics at play in this global ‘hot spot’