tv Middle East Institute on the Horn of Africa Region Part 1 CSPAN May 24, 2019 5:26am-6:45am EDT
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economic engagement in the northeast panel of africa, discussing countries in the middle east as well as china's influence in the region. good . i'm the president good afternoon everyone, i'm the president of the middle east institute and it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all today to our conference focusing on the horn of africa, the conference title is migration investment to the middle east and the horn of africa. obviously the countries of the horn have been going through their own challenges unrest and government challenges, civil
society issues and economic development issues. the horn of africa has become an arena of competition for regional powers from the gulf and further away and also increasingly a marina for a global power and the horn of africa is affected very much by refugee flows by security conditions in the middle east that spillover into the horn or the horn spilling over into other parts of the middle east. in today's conference we hope to examine ways in which the horn remains a vital region to watch the various lenses, food insecurity of a society, regional competition and global competition program today will have two panels in the first panel will focus on humanitarian and security channel and the second will focus on key regional players and competition in the horn of africa.
for the first panel today, moderating the panel is mr. salem we share a lasting and a first name and i'm happy she's here and i'm a multimedia digital journalist and she covers the greatest news and reports and edits, i want to remind everyone this conversation is being recorded for the website so please silencer mobile phones but we encourage treating and if you do tweet using a #and were pleased to announce this conference is on cspan-3 and thank you c-span for being here i want to thank our colleagues that carter world who have made this conference possible and for
mr. pete doodle who is not with us today but representing carter world is a senior vice president, mr. michael o'connell, thank you michael for being with us today and with that. please join me in welcoming salem to introduce the panel and get us started. thank you. . >> thank you very much. thank you everybody and ladies and >> thank you very much, thank in you everybody for ladies and gentlemen for coming today and
thank you to the middle east institute for organizing this and for hosting this. i'm a journalist with the voice of america and i hail from an east african country and i cover the continent. i like to start with an overview of the past 12 months there's been a lot of remarkable changes in the horn of africa and a peace deal, bringing an end to a two decade war and assured order but, the deal has
allowed families to reunite and open the way for commercial activity between the two countries even though limited at the moment. at the same time the leadership has instituted a number including liberation of political spaces, prisoners and opening up space for freedom of press and expression, there are no journalists in the country as we speak, djibouti is continued to cement its role as a strategically important location including the united states, japan, france and china a good military. it but they've also crafted the negative side with foreign powers. china's instruction including railway water and energy
facilities at 3.5 billion- dollar free-trade we see covered in the past couple months although many in djibouti celebrated the investment that's coming from foreign powers of the nation is now taken a public debt equivalent to 88% others are engrossed in the product so some are warning about debt traps and how that could result in china taking over and something to think about when we explore the issues were gonna talk about, somalia this is been the case for years, experienced a mixture of positive and negative envelopment and this is where optimism in the past couple months including reopening the u.s. embassy but violence and instability haunts
the country and also bob is showing the ability to launch deadly attack inside the country and in kenya as we saw earlier this year. and although osha bob strengthen was decimated by u.s. strikes, extremist groups aligned this with the group and the control over outlying areas in the country and maintain from the places they control by tax collection, trafficking and we are today fortunate enough to have a panel of experts who have extensive experience and stuffy study specific countries in the region as a whole and i would like to introduce the senior program officer covering
africa for freedom house. >> the deputy director of the council for the africa center and the ambassador james, the deputy director for africa and the state department and susan is the africa director of the united states institute of peace, thank you for joining us today to discuss these definitions and we will try to explore the regional dynamics as we look ahead. i would like to start with ambassador james. >> if that's okay . >> all right. so the u.s. has the only permanent military base in africa located in djibouti and also a military economic partner with ethiopia and has
played an important role in combating extremism in somalia as well. so my question to you is how would you assess the u.s. presidency and how do you see it changing in the foreseeable future? >> thank you so much i'm glad to be here and thank you very much for that. this covers 13 countries all of the horn countries and sedan with ethiopia, south sudan, it's a very exciting and interesting portfolio despite the fact we are talking about some of the concerns because we have a lot of positive stuff going on in east africa, just to get a sense of what we see as highlights in the neighborhood were focused on. in somalia, a guardedly optimistic mindset about somalia we see where it was in 1991 we now have a permanent presence there and the ambassador and we
have recommitted to not only addressing the military security but were also working aggressively on political and economic issues. in somalia there's a lot of positiveness and for the last few decades there's a great concern in the area but we've seen modest degrees of progress working more closely in the last few months with the somalia national army to move outside, so now, we try to push the perimeter further out. that's the good news, it's not been without concert winter caused that it was essential we get beyond that's been happening and it's been a it of a positiveness that we are now seeing, taking and holding territory outside of the province. the other good news is that we are encouraging the federal government to work more closely
with the member states, it's been a great concern in this is a very interesting federal progress and it's not been without a lot of bumps, there been elections that are rather complicated with more elections coming but we've maintained that the federal government must work with another state and they are much more poised with what's coming up and to go on smoothly and as they build the federal national center. on the humanitarian front, there is still a grave humanitarian crisis but the u.s. government has been the largest supplier in somalia and certainly they've been putting huge numbers of humanitarian assistance, 753 million is the current budget that includes humanitarians, some economic humanitarian systems and it's a
huge amount of money for one country but were doing it because it's so important that somalia be stabilized because we see positive things happening in the region and somalia continues to be the area of instability and what's otherwise interesting on the economic front i would say were focusing on integration and trying to help those with integration into that i'm moving on quickly and and an amazing visionary leader who change the dynamics in the region also engaging with somalia and is helping to bring this political and economic integration and we have been supportive of this effort the government is strong and ethiopia has been a good news story that i was touched
briefly on a few things and in djibouti we have a large military base but this is not only about military involvement , it's about more legal integration they'd also like to have better relationships with his neighbors long contentious and enlisted with the un sanctions and use the leverage sirs the parties to talk more and try to resolve the issues and try to be better move because there's great potential for a lot more integrated act of for the operate more collaboratively. djibouti has a lot of focus on the military side and also the economic integration process. i will touch briefly and say little more about oak tree is a fascinating country. along this
time they've been very distant and we call it correct and we always see diplomatic relationships but it wasn't quite what we wanted it to be. in the last couple of years the ambassador and secretary traveled through and 17 and last year the current secretary traveled and i traveled myself in december. one of the meetings is very important because it began to set a dialogue if they were willing to have it about a number of things this will move them out, ethiopia, djibouti and somalia, it was a conscious decision to face important but the trio will be left out and it needs to be part of the
weaker integration so we went there to have conversations. they still have a long way to go. this did not happen overnight and part of the outreach has been made but there are still challenges particularly on the issue of national service and mandatory service that all young people have to go through from being able to leave the country and all of those are big challenges those issues along with these issues are engaging with conversations, they want a more positive conversation and were open to it and we want to talk about some of the tough things. we don't stop having the conversations but we want to have a conversation about bringing into the 21st century helping them move forward. we have a banking crisis and they have a reason to be able to be
more involved. those are the priorities we have right now in east africa. i save for another panel but i work in the sedan and it's part of the reason that we want to engage in we could do that may be off-line, somalia is guardedly optimistic, djibouti we want to look at how we help them become a more integrated economic partner, they also have a chinese presence there but we are very much concerned about the military presence in the operate very differently and that's another concern we have in djibouti. for the most part we see positive signs with rejuvenation in the east african region with contentious conversations .
>> thank you so much for the overview. leadership, we talked about the roles of leadership and in the region it would be categorized or defined as functional democracies, we can all agree on that but several have been ruled by one party and one person for two decades or more . >> can you give us an overview of the state of democratic institutions to work with societies in the region . >> when i think about the conversation and the notion talking about democratization and peace building i go back to the definitions for that and fundamentally it's about being
assigned nonviolent ways to resolve conflict for those who govern and a belief that governments will actually deliver to all of their citizens based on trust legitimacy and credibility. it takes these moments of incredibly complex transition, remembering that the agreements and the conflicts are and there is an agreement about what the vision will be and there isn't an agreement about how the country will come together to reach the ultimate vision and what the roadmap or what the process looks like for people to define what the priorities are. i'm not going to go through sort of this strict statistic some of those aspects
of the serious complex, violence happening at a community level in all the countries we've talked about. we know there are fundamental questions about what does the future of the state look like and how will it be governed? i think if we look at ethiopia it's a striking example of the complexity of the transition. there's a leader who has articulated a vision to take forward but there are fundamental questions about how the states change or whether the states will change in response to the massive social, and political reforms that are taking place. and to date there is not a clear roadmap of what the steps will look like. part of that is because there are questions that are so deep depolarizing that it's quite difficult to map out what decisions will be made then. so i think this is one of the
very challenging pieces that have to be pulled together. i was recently in ethiopia in the empire region and i was talking to young people who've been involved in dialogue programs in the universities but, for the past decade and these are designed to take young students who are brought together from across the country and help them figure out how to deal with conflicts that arise because they grew up in different places, they go to school in the same location and their experiencing and seeing almost the divide that characterizes the same questions they are in front of the state of this incredibly exciting moment and how to take it forward. i think the question of democracy also raises a fundamental issue about do we have the right tools and the will write structures in place to be able to manage the
change, what happens in one country directly affects what happens in another country. it affects the national government, state government and communities, this is where it ties to the question of the rule and interaction between the gulf and the horn, it's like messaging, they are paying attention to dynamics increasingly but within u.s. government and most governments, there isn't a structure to look at the connection between the seam of the red sea that we somehow think is the end of africa and the beginning of the gulf but in fact the political economic security peace ideas that flow across and shape what happens in each country. somalia is a great physical example of that. i think we see right now that what's happening, by the way the engaged transitional military counsel and one of the
challenges in front of all of us is how do we wrap our arms around not in a way that gives the greatest chance for civilian lead transition in the country what is symbolic is the way these questions are faced in other locations . >> we talk about human rights issues and you have to continue to protect human rights, it's a constant struggle in the region and, the political dissidents in the country for two years plus the human rights issues that we talk about and ethiopia because one of the most momentous events i remember is like torture and in the center and now it's closed so how do
you assess human right in the region for optimism? >> i do, in terms of thinking about the protection of human rights across the region for this kind of conversation would be looking at what would be happening and how ethiopia is trying to effect the change in the goals would be executed in the coming year. i think a common problem and common issue for all the countries in the region, when we talk about human rights problems is decades
about -- institutions. if you take for example the challenge by the new administration in terms of affecting their vision at times we deal with institutions that are so enmeshed with the party so that even effective day-to- day civil service work is closely impact did with reality so it's time to get that address in terms of relining the change in the challenge.
i think due to the ethnic nature of the community again talking about this for example, one of the biggest challenges this government now faces is this commonality and as a result of the heightened rhetoric about ethnic identity within the country across the regions where they overlap the identities. if you take the smalley religion in somalia next-door of the conflicts in the nature of the dynamic affecting security and humanitarian issues overflows
impacting the country and i think -- never allowed any meaning in a position to keep it flowing and another of impressive policies and with the transition like the one that opens up trying to have all the interest back. it's becoming a challenge and now threatening for a evolutionary democratic party and in many places i see that to undertake
this reform but i think in terms of again talking about decades instituted, the program is coming back to haunt it when it tries to reform itself in a way that defense of the party tries to benefit from community violent and to get some sort of leverage so that they can have a stronger position when it comes to dividing power once the transition is complete. so, knowing this effort, i think that the human rights arena suffers when it comes to,
for example, insurance security they become one of the largest number of internally displaced people since the transition started. so, there's a huge humanitarian crisis that the government is trying to address while at the same time trying to be in the mood for a player in the region. it's fair to say that ethiopia's democratic experiment would have a significant implication to the region in terms of the humanitarian challenge and in terms of ensuring human right. an example, if you take this
process now and then you read the stories coming out about the process being because of -- the relationship in the first place and the information is not communicated to the community to they could become any part of the process. this includes suspicion and so there's the concern about the number -- as a result of the opening of the normalization of relationships at the time in any meaningful progress in the
process . >> there are a lot of components here, migration, security, but let's also get your perspective, give us an overview about as these internal dynamic are unfolding, the region has been a long competitive state for foreign powers and it's not different today when you see the competitive interest in djibouti. i wonder, is this a place of instability in the region and also does the presence of foreign power and interests with vast resources exist undermining the local authority as you were explaining? >> yes, thank you very much. as the other panelists make very clear, it's a very complicated picture on the horn
of africa right now. for a long time it's been almost baseless in the horn, as you pointed out there's been a couple countries that have been very stable that shut their trade-off and for a long time ethiopia with the simple dictatorship with the transition it's on the verge of becoming a democracy and we all know that the transition from authoritarianism from democracy is a perilous one. i feel you basically was ruled for a long time and they implemented a system of ethnic segregation where caused a lot of animosity between the various tribes of ethiopia. now that the iron fist is been lifted people are taking the opportunity to revisit old grudges and you see an explosion of conflict across the country as a result. it's unclear to me, absolutely unclear whether the transition is going to be a successful one i would describe it as a coin toss, frankly and i think it could easily go either way. i
think that this threat of humanitarian crisis in somalia and in parts of ethiopia really makes this transition more difficult than it would otherwise be and i think we can forget that this is a part of the continent that not only has political problems but also has very real climate change concerns and drought but in fact the political situation is underplayed and another very complicating factor is, as you say for the militarization of the horn of africa and i do want to be clear here that the military's eyes asian has been taking place for a long time and it's primarily been driven by the united states. the united states has bankrolled the flooding of somalia with tens of thousands of foreign soldiers and obviously the united states has a massive military and it's only been
problematic since others have been doing it, the united states has been the driver of this . >> it's again very difficult to tell how this will affect the countries in the horn, i'm inclined to be optimistic about it. i personally think that the entrance of the goal state into the politics of the horn of africa is likely to be fruitful because there are commercial ties and to the fact that they are deeply embedded in the politics of the region . >> i was an observer for the u.s. policy on the horn of africa and i've often felt that it's kind of like a science experiment for us because africa keeps their distance and in the case of somalia the u.s. has been cavalier about policy
and back in ezio's invasion of somalia it was a rash thing to do and i thought very much we would've taken a course of action like that if we had skin in the game. it's because somalia feel so far away that we've been able to address it with the brutality i think we would use for our neighbor. i have to say that the gulf states, because they are likely to feel consequences of any instability in the horn car like that act with more caution than the united states has in the past. 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
different kind when there would be a government building. this is multifaceted and 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.
i think that the long-held notion of do no harm cannot be emphasized in terms of the need to support this initiative at 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
>> speaking of accountability and the horn of africa in terms of security and regional dynamics i think it's important to talk about what's happening 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
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 institution through the regional acronym are for the informal coordination because if you want to have a regional coordination there isn't an obvious path forward. >> i will take a tiny piece of that. >> one of the things i mentioned we've long had these things like
trying to work. 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 particular or to have that feeling that is a partial solution with that change that we were witnessing with this change. but i think also the conflict that is causing people to leave their homes and in some cases within the country but