Ethiopian Foreign Policy and the IGAD Region 9

Policy Brief on Ethiopia’s Regional Diplomacies: Dominant Interpretation of the Horn of AfricaDr Mehari SAIIA PB recently published by SAIIA. This is an abridged version of a forthcoming longer and more substantive article, which will be published as a chapter of a book in 2015. The article examines Ethiopia’s regional diplomacy, its vital role in the IGAD region and beyond. It analyses Ethiopia’s foreign policy, particularly towards immediate neighbours that are members of the IGAD-Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda as well as Egypt. Since most important initiatives by Ethiopia at the AU are always advanced and implemented through IGAD, indirectly, Ethiopia’s influence on the AU also reflects its role in IGAD. The paper explores Ethiopia’s role in the AU, as a founding member and as the seat of the AU and those diplomatic and foreign policy elements and contributions that make Ethiopia a pivotal state in Africa. In an attempt to explain the internal political dynamics dictating Ethiopia’s foreign policy, the paper discusses the foundations and principles underpinning Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy (FANSPS). It investigates how the internal core foundations of Ethiopian foreign policy determine its regional and global diplomacy and vice-versa.

The article also explains why for over 20 years, and particularly the past decade, Ethiopia’s influence in the region has steadily increased. It discusses the following six factors: (1) Ethiopia’s inward looking foreign and national security policy and efforts to address longstanding internal political instability and extreme poverty, (2) Ethiopia’s recent promising economic performance offers hope for its people and externally draws aid, trade and investment, (3) Ethiopia’s military strength and role in regional peace and security, (4) Ethiopia in IGAD and AU: Trusted mediator, (5) Ethiopia’s role in combating terrorism and its strong counter-terrorism capabilities and (6) Pan Africanist historical legacy and Ethiopia increased and effective use of multilateral platforms. More importantly, the article identifies and discusses institutions that drive and exercise mandates related to regional diplomacy and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of FANSPS and Ethiopian regional diplomacy.

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