Photo Credit: EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images


Winter is coming to the Horn of Africa. The conflict in Northern Ethiopia is having ripple effects throughout the region. The map of the Horn may be changed irrevocably. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Here is a quick way to understand the politics.

The region watches the events in Northern Ethiopia and holds its breath.

This corner of the continent is not an easy place, hardly ever peaceful, and with grievances older than the nation states themselves. Governments, military generals, insurgencies, liberation fronts – they come and go by force or by revolution. The region's conflicts are internal, external, cross-border, and everyone intervenes in their neighbors' conflicts, directly or indirectly, in an endless stream of shifting alliances.

Ethiopia has been an anchor state in the region, and an adept player in the Horn's chessboard of political intrigue. Ethiopia's neighbors include Somalia and South Sudan, the problem children of the region, characterized by state collapse brought about by civil wars. Their fragility stands in contrast to the steadiness of Kenya and Djibouti, the neoliberal teachers' favorites. Kenya is the oasis of Western capital in the region, and Djibouti the home of their military bases. Sudan in the north is a giant coming out of a decades long slumber under military rule, awoken by a people's revolution and currently negotiating a new political reality in an uneasy coalition between the military and civilian factions. Eritrea is the sixth neighbor and perhaps where we should BEGIN.

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