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Podcast / Africa

The Horn

The Horn of Africa is in turmoil, from revolution in Sudan to the increasing regional reach of Somalia’s Al-Shabaab to the burgeoning political transformation in Ethiopia. In our new podcast series, Alan Boswell, Senior Analyst for South Sudan, and his guests delve behind the headlines and discuss ways to help bring peace and stability to the region. 

Episode 8: East Africa in 2020 

From Sudan’s fragile transition and Ethiopia's internal tensions to a resilient Al-Shabaab insurgency, 2020 is set to be an important year in the Horn of Africa.

Murithi Mutiga, Crisis Group’s Project Director for the region, joins Alan to discuss the conflicts and crises dominating the headlines and the ones evading them, from the Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute to the dramatic deterioration of Tanzania’s political environment. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.


Episode 7: How Women’s Support Energises Somalia’s Al-Shabaab

The Al-Shabaab insurgency remains a potent force in Somalia. One understudied source of its resilience is the support it enjoys among Somali women, despite the group’s patriarchal ethos, strict gender ideology and brutal methods. 

Azadeh Moaveni, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Gender, joins Alan to discuss women’s roles within the movement, from intelligence gathering, to fundraising, to arms carrying and to recruitment. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, see our briefing: Women and Al-Shabaab’s Insurgency.

This episode was originally published on 28 June 2019. 


Episode 6: Kenya and Somalia Quarrel Over Offshore Oil

Kenya and Somalia are currently fighting a legal battle over their shared maritime border, an area rich in oil and gas. 

Somalia’s President Mohammed Abdullahi "Farmajo" is playing hardball. With national elections approaching, he has taken a more assertive stance to demonstrate the country’s strength and appeal to his support base. Kenya views itself as a powerful country in a turbulent region and doesn’t wish to be seen caving into pressure from Somalia.

Rashid Abdi, Consultant and former Horn of Africa Director at Crisis Group, joins Alan this week to shed light on the deeply complex issue. They seek insights about why the dispute flared up, Ethiopia’s changing role under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and how mediation efforts have achieved some positive, modest success in de-escalating tensions. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Episode 5: Inside South Sudan's Peace Talks

After five years of violent conflict, South Sudan’s main warring leaders, President Salva Kiir and his chief rival Riek Machar, signed a peace deal in September 2018. The agreement established a ceasefire and set out a political roadmap toward elections in 2022, which included the formation of a unity government. But the peace deal is imperilled, and with it the fragile ceasefire. 

Emmily Koiti, a civil society activist who participated in the peace talks, joins Alan this week to discuss why she thinks the main parties will fail to form a functioning unity government, what the principle issues obstructing progress are and why the country’s current leaders do not represent the aspirations of the South Sudanese. She also described what it was like to be present at the negotiations, shedding light on how Sudan’s forceful mediation methods under Omar al-Bashir’s leadership achieved a peace deal but failed to push the warring parties together.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, see our briefing: Déjà Vu: Preventing Another Collapse in South Sudan.


Episode 4: Trumpian Minimalism vs East African Realities

In theory, President Trump hoped that minimal engagement would bring big wins in the Horn of Africa: more U.S. trade & investment and seeing off his great power competitors. In practice, multiple surprises have forced U.S. policy into a mode of serial reaction. How are these priorities and realities different from those of his predecessors? And how has he dealt with themes that rarely feature in his usual doctrines, issues like governance, peace and security?

Alan Boswell drills down on U.S. Africa policy with Judd Devermont, Director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and formerly a senior official at the National Intelligence Council under the Obama Administration.They highlight the importance of multilateralism, democracy and governance in a tumultuous region, the incoherence of U.S. policy toward the rising competition between Gulf Arab states in this part of Africa, and the issues of using great power rivalry as a framework to dictate policy.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.


Episode 3: After Sudan’s Revolution with Reem Abbas

Sudan’s strongman Omar al-Bashir was swept from power in April after a 30-year dictatorship. A power sharing agreement was signed in August between the military and opposition alliance, which offers the best hope for the country as it transitions away from autocracy. However, the civilian-led government faces monumental challenges, among them a a deeply dysfunctional economy, political polarisation and a powerful security establishment bent on clinging onto power.

Reem Abbas, journalist, activist and researcher, joins Alan Boswell this week to discuss these dynamics and suggest ways forward that can improve the lives of the many millions of disempowered Sudanese who, for decades, have been reduced to dire living conditions, conflict and marginalisation. 

Click here to listen on iTunes or Spotify.

Reem was a contributor to our recent report, Safeguarding Sudan’s Revolution.


Episode 2: On East Africa’s Digital Frontier 

Byte by byte, digital technologies are having a dramatic impact on politics. But while their influence in Western political spaces has been heavily scrutinised, their role in East Africa is only beginning to become widely discussed. 

As Africa attracts greater foreign investment, countries in the Horn find themselves at the intersection of politics and technology. In Sudan, social media offered civilians a space to organise against and eventually oust the repressive regime of Omar al-Bashir. But in Kenya, politicians put big data to work. Long before the U.S. 2016 presidential election, the private data company Cambridge Analytica manipulated the Kenyan electoral discourse, operating with little accountability and stripping away the agency of ordinary people. 

Nanjala Nyabola, who recently authored Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Kenya, joins Alan Boswell on The Horn this week. They discuss everything from digital colonialism and the exploitation of technology by state powers to the democratising potential of social media. 

Click here to listen on iTunes or Spotify.

Episode 1: Red Sea Rising 

The Horn of Africa, long an arena of great power competition, today sees a new rivalry playing out on its shores. Gulf countries and Turkey are vying for allies, influence and physical presence in the Red Sea corridor. They are injecting resources, but also exporting rivalries in ways that could destabilise fragile politics in the region.

Alan Boswell is joined by Elizabeth Dickinson, our Senior Analyst for the Arabian Peninsula and formerly a reporter for publications like Foreign Policy and The Economist. On this week’s episode, they discuss the risks of Red Sea rivalries and also the opportunities. 

Click here to listen on iTunes or Spotify.

For more information, see our report: Intra-Gulf Competition in Africa’s Horn: Lessening the Impact.

The Horn podcast series is produced by Maeve Frances.