tv Middle East Institute on the Horn of Africa Region Part 1 CSPAN May 21, 2019 4:40am-6:00am EDT
i'm the president of the middle east institute and it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all today to the conference focusing on the horn of africa the conference title this migration investment and competition the middle east and the horn of africa. the countries are going and have beedoing and havebeen going thrn challenges of governance challenges, civil society issues, economic development issues and also the horn of africa has become an arena of competition for regional power between the gulf and further ove anokay and also increasingly an arena for great power, global power competition and the horn of africa is also affected by refugee flows, security conditions in the middle east
could spill over into the horn or the horn spilling over to other parts of the middle east. in today's conference was to examine the ways it remains a vital region to watch through various lenses of governance, democratization, food insecuri insecurity, societ society and e regional competition, global competition. the program today will have two panels, the first panel will focus on the humanitarian and security challenges and the second will focus on key regional players and competition in the horn of africa. for the first panel today, moderating the panel solomon we shared a first and last name so happy that ms. solomon is here as a multimedia digital journalist with the voice of america's africa division. she covers latest news from the continent and also reports and
edit. before he turned over to ms. solomon i want to remind everyone that this conversation is being recorded for the website so please, silence your mobile phones but we do encourage tweets and please use the hash tag and my africa and also the conference is being broadcast on c-span and thanks for being here. i very much want to thank our colleagues at guard or world who made this conference possible, thanks for their support and to pete who wasn't able to be with us today at the senior vice president of mr. o'connell thank you for being with us today. with that, please join me in welcoming and she will introduce the panel and get us started.
was -- i cover the continent and i would like to start with a little event overview of the past 12 on this there's been a a lot of remarkable changes in the horn of africa and septembe september 2018 they signed a historic peace deal bringing an end to two decades of war, hostility that has changed in a couple of weeks. the borders are closed again but the deal has allowed families to reunite and open for commercial activity between the two countries even though they are limited at the moment and at the same time ethiopia under the leadership of the prime minister has a number of reforms including liberation of political status, prisoners and opening up a space for freedom of expression and press to peer
there are no journalists jailed in the country as we speak. djibouti on the other hand has continued to implement its role as a geo-strategically important location as global power including the united states. japan, france and china as military footprints but djibouti has also grappled with the negative side effects of part earning with foreign powers. china has financed construction including the ports, railway, energy facilities to 3.5 billion we see covered in the past couple of months and years although they celebrated the investment that is coming from foreign powers and the nation has taken the public debt to 80%
of the gross domestic product and so some are warning about deathtraps and how that could result in china taking over in influencing the foreign policies of things to think about as we explore these issues we will be talking about. somalia as has been the case for years experienced a mixture of positive and negative development and there are reasons for optimism in the past couple of months including the reopening of the embassy, but violence and instability continue throughout the country. al-shabaab is showing its ability to launch deadly attacks both inside the country and neighboring as we saw earlier this year. and although decimated the efforts of the amazon and defense precision strikes
extremist groups aligned with this group and their control over outlining areas in the country and maintaining sources of funding from the places the control of tax collections today we are fortunate enough to have all panels of experts who've expressed experience in studying the region as a whole so good and the senior program officer covering africa for freedom house and the deputy director of the council for the africa center and the ambassador is the deputy assistant secretary for east africa and the state department. susan is the director united states institute of peace.
thank you for joining us today to discuss these pressing issues. we will discuss what these mean as we look ahead. i would like to start with the ambassador if that is okay. so, the u.s. has the only parliament based and it's also viewed as a vital military and economic partner with ethiopia and has played an important role in combating extremism and somalia as well so my first question is how would you assess presence and how would you see it changing in the foreseeable future? >> firs >> first welcome to everyone, glad to be here. my portfolio covers 13 countries so all of the countries along the red sea and ethiopia, south
sudan. it's an exciting and interesting portfolio and despite the fact i will talk about the concerns, there's a lot of positive stuff going on as well. i will walk through quickly so you can get a sense of what we see in the area we are focused on starting with somalia i would say we are in a guardedly optimistic mindset about somalia because we've seen where it was in 1991 and we now have a permanent presence there and senior diplomats. we pretended twe've reconnectedy addressing the military security threat but also working aggressively on political issues and economic issues, so there's a lot of positivity for the last three decades. the last three decades it has been a concern in the area that we have seen modest degrees of
progress. the mission has been working closely the last few months with the national army to move outside of just nobody shoots and now we are trying to put it even further out but spent a good news it's not without consequence or cause but it is essential that we get beyond mogadishu. that's been a bit of a positive story that we are now holding territory, taking and holding territory outside of mogadishu. we are encouraging the article government to work more closely with member states. it's been a great concern. it's an interesting federal project they have underway and it's not without a lot of bumps. it's been complicated and there are more coming that we've been maintaining they must work with member states so they are now much more poised than ever before to work collaboratively
and there is the local economy as they build. on the humanitarian front is still a great humanitarian crisis i can't undersell that at all. the numbers we are looking at some of the largest supply here in somalia for the last decade or so and so this year we've been putting in huge numbers of humanitarian assistance. 753 million is the current foreign assistance budget that includes humanitarian, some economic development assistance by huge amounts of money for one country but we are doing it because so important that somalia destabilized because there's a lot of other things happening. it cannot continue to be that gap in the areas of instability otherwise interesting neighborhoods. on the economic point we are focusing on integration of the region w they are trying to help around integration and i will
quickly talk about or else they are working. we are working with the ethiopian government. you mentioned the prime minister. he's been an amazing visionary leader who's changed the dynamic in the whole region. he's also been engaging with somalia and djibouti. he is helping to bring this political and economic integration and we have been fully supportive of this effort. we are trying to make sure the government is strong. so it's been a good news story. i will touch briefly on a few things. djibouti as you mentioned we have a large military base there but it's not only about military involvement in security assistance, it is about legal integration. it also would like to have a better relatio relations with is neighbors and we are trying to
help. we've lifted the sanctions and used that leverage to urge the parties to talk more to resolve their border issues to try to be better neighbors because there's a great potential for a lot more integrated economic activity if all the countries are operating more collaboratively. we have a lot of focus not only on the military side but also on the neighborhood building and economic integration progress. ..
transitions and know what those conflicts are and that disagreement in many cases will ultimately be how the countries will come together and the roadmap for people to decide whether priorities are. we'll go through where democracy and freedom cross in those aspects but it's important to think about with these multilevel and to happen at a community level. and that there are fundamental questions and that's an
example and those leaders of the articulated position whether the state change of the national and political reforms taking place. and there is not a clear roadmap and part of that are those that are so deeply polarizing so this is one of the very challenging pieces. and in ethiopia talking to young people to those in the university's. and then to be designed to take those young students
across the country and how to deal with those conflicts that arise and then to go to school in the same location and then at this incredibly exciting moment. and then to raise that fundamental issue. what happens in one country happens at another and of fax this one - - affects the national government and state level in the communities. . >> there isn't that structure
and it felt like a stable dictatorship but now it is on the verge of becoming a democracy and ethiopia implemented a system of ethnic segregation which caused a lot of animosity but now that the iron fist has been lifted there is the opportunity to visit where we see that explosion of conflict across the country as a result. it is absolutely unclear how that transition will be going forward. i think it's a coin toss frankly. and with a humanitarian crisis really makes that transition difficult this is part of a continent not only with real climate change concerns but
affects the political situation as well and we tend to underplay that. another very complicated fact is the militarization of the horn of africa. i want to be clear what has taken place for a long time primarily driven by the united states to bankroll the flooding of somalia so we talk about that problem it is only problematic but the united states has been the driver it's very difficult to tell
but personally i am inclined to be optimistic i personally think going into the politics of the horn of africa is to be fruitful with commercial ties with the horn of africa and that they are deeply embedded in the politics of the region. i don't represent the government so i can say this and i have often felt that it is a concern and particularly in the case of somalia to be very cavalier like ethiopia's invasion of somalia i doubt we would've taken a turn like that if we were in the game but because somalia was so far away and because the gulf
states are likely to feel those consequences could act with more caution so it's difficult and therefore something to be celebrated so the horn of africa is military in nature versus commercial and what will be determined will be productive for those that can come together if the goal states all those that are rushing to the agenda so one
of the most positive developments that we see is the rise of the doctrine ethiopia because that has to be called a diplomatic renaissance. and in that position to lead to create a coherent approach and if that domestic situation in ethiopia will allow him time to spend time on that role. and it could be quite catastrophic we need to understand this doesn't appear rosy on the surface but it is the most perilous moment i have witnessed because that prospect is more than they have ever been before.
but if they feel - - fail that potential anything could happen when then to open up that possibility and given that mathematical reality and that would be a crisis of unprecedented proportions but for the united states as well and with the heavy involvement in the region of reopening of the us embassy in somalia.
and that there has been a lot of developments in the region so could you share if they are partnering with the somali government and how can us help the country with some degree of semblance of peace and unity quick. >> looking at somalia with that security threat to themselves and to the region and to the united states as well. all the people across the entire region those who don't
territorial ability. the other point i want to come back to is a level of focus and commitment. and we do have a lot not only to destabilize somalia some of these countries are very high performing as well but they are also vying for economic survival as well. is not just somalia but what happens there and you see very
sophisticated. we are talking about how the u.s. government does business to make ourselves a more attractive partner. the american companies do business we have the press we will not accept and tolerate rivalry. we think we have a better product most of the time so we try to do it ourselves but we have to offer to government, to the private sector that's our first talking point we've got a better product and a better way we do business. the chinese investment brings. we do grants or more responsible
lending. in many ways it's been predatory. a lot of loans that have been given into indexing these governments. then we end up having financed programs and support humanitarian assistance. we are saying what makes sense to the government. we cannot watch him take on predatory lending from china. these loans are not good at the end of the day they will decide for both of their partners are. at the end of the day over one or two projects, i observed a
difference in how the government feels this is how the public feels. they may hav have more criticism about why are we giving everything with china when the products are not so good. government don't take that impression that the but they wil you behind closed doors we are set up with a lot of debt we have to point out our comparative advantage is.
we have to be honest and point out where we don't want to see the conflicts come to and part of the reason i'm thinking about the involvement of th p. at the golf or beyond is because with that comes human rights issues. you talked about ethnic tensions. i can't remember for as long as i've covered ethiopia i've never seen the ethnic tension. albeit freedom house or other groups that are working for greater human rights what do you
the government level that i think especially in this time we need to make sure in terms of expressing solidarity for the council being an automatic ally for transparency for the democratic government and respect for human rights international community isn't supposed to be taken for granted. it shouldn't be expected to take the support of the welcoming thing to receive particularly in light of what has been going on
in the past two decades. there's been an emphasis so that automatically created the perception and to some extent reality that international support particularly geared towards supporting the government versus being an ally to the democratic voices into that created this trust deficit. when it comes to recalibrating both support and trying to be engaged in the democratic human
rights activists they need to re-examine and there are a couple of lesson from that. i think there's also a need to ensure the support address of accountability for human rights abuse reporting the local initiatives aiming to address the reconciliation efforts and supporting such as the african commission ensuring accountability. i say this because in parallel
right now. the popular uprising because of the massive expectation we are seeing what's happening in sudan and we've tackled the longest-serving leaders. do you see this movement spreading to places like my home country for many kinds of mass protest movement in the regime right now do you see any of that happening specifically in the horn? >> i think if we look at sudan and this moment, the protests that started in december has been fairly well covered but this has been built up over
years and years and looking back to 2013 when there were protes protests. they are taking place to rebuild the trade unions and thought yours unions to help organize the people towards nonviolent action so. to develop a strategic engagement with would be centered around this bend the core problem here that's the lack of leadership. that was the core problem.
people started organizing. you don't pick a large political goal necessarily. you have to develop tactics that are easy for people to join mike nonviolent work because people of all ages and genders can join in a way that is relatively safe around which they can organize themselves. there is an interesting work to see how that type of mobilizing concert to form the foundation to the democratic discussion going forward to get to know each other across geographies and different political ideas
those are some of the building blocks that we have seen in other places. is there any danger from too much change too fast in countries that don't have the multiparty democracy? it's important to step back and say the revolution in ethiopia and in sudan couldn't have happened without social media because that is how everyone organized their protest is the number one and headed for the fact people don't have access to social media so even if there
were an inclination to revolt, i'm not sure how they would operationalize it which means if you want to talk about democratic process through protest you have to talk about economics first. one of the major problems with external groups if they don't speak the same language. there is a lot of concern about human rights and i wouldn't say that they don't have concerns, the ones who have the most grievances in that regard tend to leave the country. if you suffer human rights you basically get out and the people who remain are likely to be activated by that dialogue. on the other hand with economics these are big problems and the people that are still in the country care about economics.
if there's any threat of unrest in my view it results from the opening of the border from ethiopia. there is then strong control on cash flow. people are not allowed to carry the equivalent of more than a few hundred dollars at any time and the opening of the border and the ability of the korean has threatened that new regime that they've been trying to implement. so, because of that but we see the border closings to try to. that's not to say people are unhappy with the government as they are thought to be outside of the country but it's definitely to say that there is
a tremendous opportunity to cooperate with the people and the government to create the kind of improvements that might after the adoption of social media and other forms of normalization leads to positive improvements. so the recurring theme i'm hearing is the economics human rights bill and the u.s. role in this. they've had notable programs in the past to help the countries economically. you mentioned that the business but in the past some of the initiatives include the opportunity act to sell goods in the u.s. market which promises to increase the capacity so people can communicate better.
what u.s. backed program do you think are making the biggest impact so far on the people on the horn of africa? >> the conversation now is already ongoing of what happens post-2025 and we are already in indigo dot with a free trade agreement in the african country so there is talk about what happens post-2025. i can assure you that conversation is going well we see the textiles being used and
it's still critical not just in the day-to-day business but to attract foreign direct investment it requires internet connectivity and all the things that are moving the economy much faster still it is still important and operating in ethiopia and pressing the program to take advantage of this new moment so i would say that it's one of the old ones but good ones but still around. it's a health program at hopi people are your employees. people are living because of the billions of dollars invested in hiv aids and the healthcare
capacity building. it's very important. children are born hiv aids free, biggest investment for the economy. it takes a toll on the most productive. the program is a part of the plan but then we also come to another topic which is new and i am not the spokesperson for it one of the things we have come to accept if we have to bring more private sector money to africa. that is the long-term solution to things we are dealing with government we are still doing some of those things helping with capacity building working on the issues but the big game
changer will be private sector investment. that's why we have more people here that has to be attracted to government competing against those who do feel very differently. they have state companies come in that's not the way that american companies move. we have a program is about increasing the trade between the united states and africa that will provide the guarantee and allow the businesses to come into risky environment so we are thinking owe'rethinking of how e bigger infrastructure products.
that is where the job creation will happen you've got to have government interface. they know little about africa, they are looking for guarantees, they want to note that the court systems are functioning and if we cannot answer yes on all of those then they are not going to come so we have to take an extra push. this is what we are talking about now. how do you make a deal happen. every part of the embassy is being tasked. what do we need to hear the
funding will be available so we try to go to this with a private-sector approach. at this point we are going to be opening for the audience if you have any questions or experts here. you have to come close to the microphone. >> about the need for the regional coordination and integration do you see this happening through the new
the trad trade hub is one way tt they would have a vehicle to help forecast the barriers why is it so expensive to get them from south africa to malawi what arwhich are things we can do to make it more to the africa travel so there is not there's lots of other things we are doing to focus on their own fundamentals of people want to invest there and the government can be sure they have things in place so we try to do things bilaterally and regionally but this is where the thinking is now.
the obstacles you find and order your concern these are things we try to have conversations with the government about. it's a good project to take on to see what the challenges are. one example would be surprised we are having so many difficulties with. there's about 6,000 chinese companies. we have a problem even with a lot of the infrastructure in place, so in east africa without the infrastructure, connectivity, good reliable source of energy these are bigger problems so we are working on those kind of issues. ethiopia the countries we would like to say take off they don't have the level of education they need so these are the kind of
things we are having the leadership isn't quite as progress is that we are committed to the private sector. >> the relationship that you mentioned maybe you can chime in here and talk about within these countries there are different dynamics and there's an interesting relationship so maybe hell does that pla how don this regional bloc? >> one of the problems it hasn't been effective, as you mentioned
it's a difficult player and has benefited tremendously and have a virtual monopoly on ports. that's important because it's not a democracy, it's an authoritarian regime and because of its centrality in military matters, and of course ethiopia's exports, it's gotten past on human rights and democratic issues threatened by the shipping business and so in some respects you can call that a zero-sum game. it's unfortunate to use that phrase but it's the reality no one really truly likes the competition so there are genuine hurdles to the kind of regional thinking that are going to be difficult to resolve at a time when internally they are struggling with so many
different problems. >> i remember the foreign ministry visiting and it's like there's different dynamics going on. you can address that or have a conversation about that. >> we are talking about regional integration is also a political component to death so what is the intention and objective and that is very much unresolved right now among those that are members of the intergovernmental development and across the region. so, there has been policy statement saying there should be more of a tripartite relationship between ethiopia and somalia that without the vision of what that looks like and why and how you get there and how of the others would feel about that plan you have the
free trade agreement that provides the frame and countries are actually signing on to this and ratifying in a serious way, but translating that into the different areas of cooperation is good having put in place the infrastructure. in all of these circumstances when talking about politics, if there is going to be a way to manage the transition into the engagement of the gulf and other powers is likely to take multiple overlapping institutions. if we look at other examples where there's been cooperation on trade or managing maritime security if you look at the baltic sea, these take different initiatives over different times to respond t to that means available and it sounds like platitude but they seem to be looking for one institution that
will work and if it is difficult in any circumstance at the time when things are up in the air. people would describe this change as similar to 1989 eastern europe what is happening in the horn. it isn't just a couple that are going through small transitions. i would urge that we think of this is not something having one answer. .. . >> but looking at the red sea as an entire region and where they have some common ground
that helps to unify the region to make it harder to go on to other topics to have this conversation we will never unify the whole region that wasn't at its conception but then to come together it's good we have many different opportunities. >> first, thank you for a wonderful discussion. imr of the arabian peninsula how you talk about those trans regional dynamics and the need to consider that so can you talk more about the transnational migration
dynamics and how countries are responding to those particularly of the security forces in yemen detaining migrants and inject that into the conversation. >> we have covered this with that war going on in yemen with that approach and thinking that maybe this is a humanitarian effort. >> i would like to go back to the governance to drive this humanitarian issues. and addressing those internment dynamics to be in countries like ethiopia and in