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Workers at a trading facility for charcoal from Somalia, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 5, 2013 (AP photo by Kamran Jebreili).

Gulf Rivalries Extend Into the Horn of Africa, Further Destabilizing Somalia

Friday, June 29, 2018

The bitter Arab rivalry in the Persian Gulf is reshaping traditional spheres of influence and exacerbating fault lines farther south, in the Horn of Africa, the continent’s most volatile region. The spat between fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which began a year ago when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led an embargo of neighboring Qatar that shows no sign of ending, has sparked frantic diplomatic and economic activity across the Red Sea, with serious security consequences.

Thrust center-stage into these changing political geographies is Somalia, among the world’s poorest and most conflict-prone countries. The fragile nation, fighting a terrorist insurgency and rebuilding after state collapse and civil war in 1991, has been caught between the UAE and Qatar, as well as Qatar’s close partner, Turkey. While the Western-led international community is simply urging Somali leaders to work together for the common good, proxy contests and regional feuds are playing out in a scramble for resources, influence and prestige. ...

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