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Fluctuating Saudi and Emirati Alignment Behaviours in the Horn of Africa


The overthrow of Omar al-Bashir after three decades of rule has brought to light a dynamic that has been present for years: an interweaving of political, economic and security issues between the states of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf monarchies. Since 2011, the most active powers are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which seek political support to counter both Iran’s influence and the growing Turkish presence. The two Gulf monarchies’ search for alignments with African counterparts has favoured the continuous reshuffling of alliances with direct effects on the local actors’ strategic choices. These dynamics need to be considered to understand the determinants behind the currently increasing instability in the Red Sea area.
Keywords: Balance of Threat theory, alignment, Horn of Africa, Middle East, Arab Gulf states