The Geopolitics in East Africa are very 'interesting'. I define that as being 'stable but unpredictable'. Security and stability considerations have a wide catchment. We have previously written a number of articles for Oil and Gas Magazines that outlines some of the key factors 'why'. These hopefully provide that 25,000 foot view.
We are advocates of mapping the human terrain and ensuring community outreach and liaison to develop robust civil affairs strategies. This will ensure Community Based Security (CBS) whereby local support and 'buy-in' can be achieved. We believe you can’t dissociate countries from each other in East Africa. Indeed, negative security interrelationships exists between most countries - transnational terrorism, weak political systems and ungoverned spaces are but some examples 'why'.
And the Role of Eritrea and Ethiopia? Eritrea/ Ethiopia interplays remain a significant issue. Recent attacks (Ethiopian incursion) continued into March 2012 albeit with little media fanfare. This is largely due to:
1. Ethiopia being a valued 'partner' to the West on the 'Global War on Terror'. Hence incursions are regularly ignored.
2. The Ethiopia/ Eritrea conflict is simply a long standing and tired media message.
Eritrea is fast becoming (become?) a failed nation state which may have implications for Ethiopia and the wider region. NB: Eritrea remain accused of supporting Al Shabaab in Somalia and other anti Western Groups as well as sheltering Ethiopian rebels. Its political instability is well documented and concerns most observers, analysts and commentators.
Ethiopia continue to contribute troops against Al Shabaab into Somalia.This will continue to push Al Shabaab to seek regional support (expect from Eritrea and probably Yemen as well as Sudan?) which could create the preconditions for spiraling regional instability. Already our interlocutors in Somalia have confirmed that active operations against Al Shabaab have driven the pro Al Qaeda group north into the State of Puntland.
We also know from our Nairobi Office that Al Shabaab are openly conducting administration (and operations) into Kenya. Al Shabaab's influence in recent attacks in Nairobi, albeit low level and unsophisticated, have shown both capability and intent.
Some other interesting neighborhood conclusions have been captured by the UN Monitoring Group at : http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2011/433
Stay safe...... Tim