Iran Keeps Longstanding Ties With Horn of Africa to Outflank Rivals

Iran Keeps Longstanding Ties With Horn of Africa to Outflank Rivals
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Astrakhan, Russia, Sept. 29, 2014 (Photo from the website of the Russian president).

While Iran is normally seen as a regional power, its influence extends beyond the Middle East. In an email interview, Jeffrey Lefebvre, associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut, discussed Iran’s relations with countries in the Horn of Africa.

WPR: How extensive are Iran’s ties with countries in the Horn of Africa?

Jeffrey Lefebvre: Iran has maintained “proper” diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti despite their close political and strategic ties with the United States. In particular, Camp Lemonier in Djibouti has served as a base for U.S. military forces and the launch pad for U.S. drone strikes against radical Islamic movements in the Horn of Africa and Yemen since 2002. With regard to Eritrea, Tehran has taken advantage of Asmara’s falling-out with the U.S. over the past decade to establish a strategic relationship that allows Iranian warships to visit Eritrean ports, gather intelligence and allegedly use Eritrea as a transit point to ship weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and to provide support to the Shiite Houthi rebels across the Red Sea in Yemen. Despite claims that Iran has supported the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia in Somalia, Tehran has provided humanitarian aid to the U.N.-backed government in Mogadishu.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.