Horn of Africa and East Africa

Sudan

The dominating political power in Sudan is the centralistic National Congress Party under the leadership of President Al Bashir, President of Sudan since 1989. The party reaches out to Islamist groups. Since the separation of South Sudan in 2011 and the resulting loss of a major part of its income from petrol, Sudan has been faced with a challenging situation that leads to phases of social unrest that have become chronic. The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) claim more than one fifth of the country's budget (estimated value from 2011) and yet seem to be unable to get the huge number of armed rebel groups under control. Darfur, in particular, is hit by recurring conflicts between tribal militia groups that are due to the economic and social conditions. While the rebel movements have been weakened by the loss of foreign support (Libya, Chad and now presumably also South Sudan), this has so far not hindered them from continuing their high intensity warfare and keeping up the pressure on Khartoum. The fighting in the regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile between the government, the Arab tribal militia and the rebels has barely subsided in 2013 and the situation of refugees in these regions is still dramatic.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) pressed charges against, among others, President Al Bashir for severe violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and for genocide and issued international arrest warrants (to date it has been impossible to execute a single one of these arrest warrants). Sudan still refuses to cooperate with the ICC.

In October 2013, the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit and Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmed al Bashir, at a meeting in Juba confirmed their commitment to an agreement reached in 2012 obliging them to create a demilitarised zone, ending the support given to rebels and opening border crossings. Despite this easing of tensions, the Abyei issue remains unresolved. An informal status referendum was held in Abyei from 27 to 29 October 2013 but was recognised by neither Sudan nor South Sudan.

The UN-AU hybrid mission (UNAMID) operates in Darfur, and the UN Interim Security Force for Abeyi (UNISFA) acts as a peacekeeping force along the border to South Sudan. The European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos, coordinates EU activities in Sudan.

South Sudan

After a mere 30 months of independence (since July 2011) the Republic of South Sudan is engulfed in a domestic armed conflict between President Kiir and rebel leader Machar that began at the end of 2013. The fight for power between President Kiir and his former Vice-President Machar has since then turned into a civil war. Neither the ceasefire agreement reached in February 2014 nor the mediation efforts of the regional IGAD organisation have been successful. According to OCHA, 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict to date. The number of refugees is enormous; the conflict has claimed more than 1 million displaced persons, and 60,000 refugees have fled to the neighbouring states. The unresolved issues of South Sudan's relationship to its northern neighbour Sudan (status of the contested border region of Abyei, support of rebels, tribal conflicts, etc.) have been pushed to the background; negotiations were suspended by South Sudan at the beginning of March 2014.

The objectives of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) include the provision of support in the consolidation of peace and thus further, long-term, state-forming and economic development. And yet, because of the civil war the role of UNMISS has changed to that of an active protection mission: 63,000 civilians have, up to this point, sought shelter in UNMISS camps.

The priority of EU support for South Sudan is on humanitarian aid and basic services in the country. The civil European Union Aviation Security Mission (EUAVSEC Juba) is a CSDP mission to strengthen security at Juba International Airport.

Somalia

After the end of the transition phase, the resignation of the transitional government and the election of new state institutions in 2012, the balance of power was successfully shifted towards the new federal government in Mogadishu in 2013, especially in Southern and Central Somalia. This is mainly due to the success of the 17,000-men troop of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) against Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is, however, still playing a destabilising role in the country; the major part of the open land in Southern and Central Somalia is still under Al-Shabaab's control and the militant group is increasingly resorting to asymmetric warfare with suicide- and bomb attacks.

When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recognised the new government of Somalia, it opened up the opportunity of economic support after 22 years in which the relations between the IMF and Somalia had been interrupted. Despite some economic progress, the development towards normal economic conditions has still been impeded by the continued security risks and the absence of a permanent and credible political agreement.

The EU is involved in three CSDP missions in Africa at the Horn of Africa. These missions pursue the following objectives:

  • Training of Somalian armed forces (EUTM Somalia)
  • Securing the maritime trading routes on the Horn of Africa and/or the Gulf of Aden (EUNAVFOR Atalanta)
  • Supporting the development of maritime expertise of regional navies in Djibouti, Kenya, the Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania (EUCAP Nestor).

Ethiopia

Since the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012 and after his successor Hailemariam Desalegn took up office, the Ethiopian government has been taking every effort to convey an impression of unity and continuity. Ethiopia’s foreign policy is still characterised by its “regional power function” in the politically highly sensitive Horn of Africa. The country’s shift of foreign policy interests away from traditional Western donors towards the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India and China) has been continued. Opening the market for foreign companies and the lease of land are part of the country's Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the basis of Ethiopia's development and economic policy. One of the objectives of the GTP is the establishment of a modern and productive agricultural sector to more advanced technological standards. A point of criticism is the fact that the national efforts to boost economic growth are at the expense of civil and political rights of the country's population, leading to frequent violent clashes in these regions.

Ethiopia is a priority country of Austrian Development Cooperation, with the Austrian commitment focusing primarily on the mitigation of poverty, rural development and food security. Another priority is the promotion of women and democratic development. Also on the agenda of Austria's development assistance are the promotion of non-governmental organisations, multilateral projects, humanitarian aid and economic partnerships.

The EU is not only the prime trading partner, but also Ethiopia's most important multilateral donor.

Ethiopia is currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council. The country itself is faced with numerous reproaches for human rights violations, among others concerning the restriction of the freedom of the press, the prosecution of journalists and members of the opposition under the anti-terrorism act, the arrest of demonstrators by security forces such as at demonstrations of the Muslim minority in Oromia and Addis Ababa, as well as female genital mutilation (which is, however, officially prohibited in Ethiopia).

Kenya

Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto won the presidential and parliamentary elections in Kenya in March 2013. Apart from isolated acts of violence, the election process was orderly and peaceful, unlike the elections in 2007 when violent clashes and mass unrest claimed the lives of 1,300 people and more than 300,000 internally displaced persons.

Both Uhuru Kenyatta and his Vice-President William Ruto (along with two other Kenyans) have been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity in the context of the outbreak of violence after the 2007/08 elections. Both defendants declared their willingness to cooperate with the ICC but are fighting their charges with judicial and political means. Kenya fuels criticism of the ICC in the rest of Africa claiming that the ICC has a "Western" bias against Africans.

Kenya has been supporting the peace mission of the African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) since December 2011 with a contingent of 5,000 soldiers; the aim of the AMISOM mission is the re-establishment of stability and security in the country. The involvement of Kenyan troops in the AMISOM mission made the country a target of terrorist attacks by the Al-Shabaab militia.

In the coastal region of Kenya, where the main tourist resorts are located, radicalisation has been increasing for the past few years and large parts of the Muslim youth are turning towards radical Salafist-Jihadi ideology.