The implications of Ethiopia’s foreign policy dynamics towards the Horn of Africa since 1991

Mersha Zenebe Felek


The research aimed to assess the implications of Ethiopia`s foreign policy dynamics towards the Horn of Africa. Qualitative research has been employed and relevant data were collected through unstructured and semi-structured interviews from purposively selected key informants consisting of IGAD, MoFA, and diplomats from Djibouti, South Sudan, Kenya, and Somalia. For secondary sources, previous works on the area were reviewed. The findings of the study revealed that Ethiopia influences regional security, economic, and political agendas through sub-regional and regional organizations. Ethiopia as a chair of IGAD has played an important role in the successful implementation of the CPA and the resulting South Sudanese referendum. Largely, Ethiopia’s role through diplomatic engagement, military intervention, mediation, and peacekeeping activities in the region particularly in Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea, and Sudan is a good example. The current Ethiopian foreign policy stresses sustained economic development, promotion of democracy, and peace as the main objectives in the region and elsewhere. Accordingly, Ethiopia is constructing railways, roads, and electricity, to connect with Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea. Thus, since 1991, Ethiopia`s national interests towards the Horn have been completely redefined to focus on mutual gain. Nevertheless, it should also be noted that the efforts have been greatly determined by a multitude of factors such as; domestic politics, the need for port service, security, refugees, preserving its regional hegemony, border, proxy war, and terrorism. Indeed, those factors are stimulating the current Ethiopian foreign policy through economic interdependence, cooperation, and securitization of the HoA.


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1. Introduction

Ethiopia is one of the oldest states in the international system; having a long history of foreign relations with many states across the globe (Seifuddin, Citation1997; Van der Beken, Citation2007). However, the modern diplomatic foreign relations of Ethiopia began during the reign of Emperor Menelik II (r.1889–11907) when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministerial systems were introduced in Ethiopia in 1907 (Zewde, Citation2002, p. 90). By the time Ethiopian foreign policy was geared towards promoting the independent status of the country (Broich, Citation2017). As a result, Ethiopia has successfully resisted European colonialism.

Ethiopian leaders followed different foreign policies in their time of rule (Keller, Citation1987); for instance, Emperor Haile Selassie, and Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, were focused on outward looking. That means the regimes understood the major security threat of Ethiopia was an external threat since the foreign policy approach and orientation of the regime was an outside-in approach (Amare, Citation1989, p. 23). Whereas Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Hailemariam Desalegn, and the current prime minister Abiy Ahmed have followed an inward-looking foreign policy which means Ethiopia’s national security threats identified as internal vulnerabilities and problems, such as political (democracy and good governance) and economic (economic backwardness and poverty) problems (Tedros, Citation2015, p. 196).

In this regard, the current conflict in the Tigray region can be mentioned as a serious challenge to the foreign policy of Ethiopia. Because of this devastating war millions of civilians have been killed, millions internally displaced and tens of thousands have fled to seek refuge in neighboring countries, especially Sudan and Eritrea (Weldemichel, Citation2021). Subsequently, the conflict in Tigray has an extended effect, especially for the neighboring counties. For instance, when the conflict in Tigray started a year ago the conflict showed an interest in extending to Eritrea as well as to the Sudan through the border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan (Verjee, Citation2021). Therefore, even though it lacks practical commitments, arguable, the current Ethiopian administration understands and contextualizes the foreign policy of Ethiopia through an inward-looking foreign policy orientation.

Furthermore, during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, the diplomatic activities of the regime were mainly dominated by the emperor himself. The role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was very limited to formulating and implementing the country`s foreign policy (Abota, Citation2002a). Based on his individual decision; the emperor traveled to many foreign countries. Of course, the emperor had no foreign policy document other than the speeches he made. The emperor’s external diplomatic activities are best mentioned by the contribution he made to the formation of OAU. The relationship of the emperor with African states was relatively cooperative.

Similarly, partly, during the reign of Mengistu Hailemariam most of the problems were not internalized rather he was focused on the strengthening of military capability against the external threats of Ethiopia (Amare, Citation1989, pp. 479–502; Adula, Citation2018). The Ethiopian foreign policy during the Derg era (r.1974–1991) was hostile to neighboring states of Ethiopia. Thus, Ethiopia was in serious contradiction with neighboring countries. Especially, the Somali Irredentism and the declaration made by former Sudanese President Jaffar Nimeiri (r.1971–1985) to institute an Islamic state in Sudan with Sharia law, the proliferation of local liberation movements, and war with Eritrean Liberation movements for over thirty years was a total mismatch with the government’s commitment to proletarian internationalism (Meles, 2012:51 and Pankhurst, 2011: 52).

On the other hand, following the coming to power of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in 1991; a major paradigm shift in Ethiopia`s foreign policy and diplomacy was revealed. In 2002 the first compatible foreign policy document was disclosed. The document has been named the Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002). Unlike the previous leaders, the document clearly shows the foundations and objectives of the foreign policy of Ethiopia (FANSPS, 2002:1).

The Horn of African countries are highly interdependent to each other (Le Gouriellec, Citation2018). This can be manifested through their cultural, social, economic, and border sharing. From the Horn of Africa states Ethiopia is the country that shares the most international borders with other Horn of Africa countries followed by Kenya and South Sudan (Henneberg & Stapel, Citation2020). This implies that, in this region, the events that take place in Ethiopia have great implications for the Horn of Africa and vice versa is true. This is because of Ethiopia`s sheer size, and large number of populations, as well Ethiopia also became the main actor and an active participant in the peace and stability of the region . Thus, the major objective of the study was to assess the implications of Ethiopian foreign policy dynamics towards the Horn of Africa.

2. Empirical Review

The study of Ethiopian foreign policy requires further academic explorations about its dynamics towards the Horn of Africa. Recently, there have been some promising attempts made by certain researchers to study the policy in detail.

Important research done by Chala (Citation2020), on the title Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy in the New World Order System: Foreign Policy Direction and its Determinants, constitutes one part of the work. The objective of the study was to explore the determinants of Ethiopian foreign policy in the post-1991 era. Subsequently, the study concluded that as a result of the New World Order system, Ethiopian foreign policy orientation changed from purely stubborn Marxist ideology to a flexible developmental state with numerous alliances, paying great emphasis to economic development, at the expense of security issues.

Another dedication comes from Taddesse (2014), who ponders foreign policy and international law nexus. The target of this study was to analyze factors that have an important bearing on Ethiopia’s foreign policy choice at the domestic level regarding international human rights instruments. This writer also emphasized the main institutions of the concept of state—“normative references”, “agency processes”, and “determinants” affecting the formulation of national policies as relating to the state`s involvement in international legal relationships.

After considering multiple grounds that support his argument reached certain conclusions. The “democratic and human rights complaint political order”, as he calls it, is an important determinant identified. Besides, he pointed out to “normative values” derived from the international legal system as another determinant of Ethiopian foreign policy choice. The particular features of compliance procedures regarding treaties that institute “higher protection regimes” or “enforcement mechanisms” inevitably would affect the decision of the state according to his remarks. Regarding institutional engagement, the writer claims the existence of multiple fragmented stakeholder institutions that can influence the decision of the state and concludes that this prompts the absence of an “integrated approach”.

Additionally, an addressed concern in the domain of Ethiopian foreign policy is the country`s policy of peacekeeping. The study undertaken by Kassahun (2014) scrutinized the foreign policy drivers and incentives that account for enhancement of the Ethiopia`s engagement in international peacekeeping missions. Ultimately, the author found out that the peacekeeping efforts by the country had both national and international rationales during the imperial period during which African factors sustained to the EPRDF time. With special attention to the African concern, the policy accrued military and economic assistance accompanied by recognition and stature from the international community.

On top of that, the peacekeeping commitments improved its role of leadership at sub-regional and continental levels. Moreover, there are more fragmented efforts to cover issues related to the policy’s orientations regarding the AU, where the scholars suggested forging a grand strategy to protect and promote Ethiopia`s interest in the AU; climate change and environmental matters; and specific area, for instance, Ethiopia`s invasion of Somalia (Yinebeb, 2104), the relation with Eritrea and so forth.

Arka Abota (Citation2002a) in his study entitled “Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy under Emperor Haile Selassie I: an Appraisal;’’ confirmed that the emperor dominated the making of foreign policy in Ethiopia for more than half a century. Haile Selassie wielded unquestioned supreme power assisted by his advisors for policy making and implementation. Both the 1931 and 1955 revised constitutions gave the emperor legal power in foreign policy decision-making. Foreign policy making is a team result. It needs professional skill, tact, and experience in international relations. But in the Emperor’s foreign policy, we find the prevalence of personalized decision-making.

Muhyadin Ahmed Roble (2016), in his work entitled “a study on the impact of Ethiopia’s foreign policy towards Somalia from 1991 to 2001.’’ The research shows that Ethiopia`s Foreign Policy is preventing the emergence of a coherent and united Somalia, the conflict in Somalia will linger for some, but that will be a threat to the long-term stability of Ethiopia. Thus, with the help of the international community, Somalia should find a way to convince Ethiopia that a stable Somalia is in the best interests of the region and the world.

The other work is by Chen and Hawaz (Citation2020), entitled The Justification of 2002 Ethiopian Foreign and National Security Policy Alteration. The study mainly paid attention to how 2002 Ethiopia’s foreign policy failed to keep up with current issues and the causes of the change. Furthermore, the study scrutinized that the reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eretria at the time, privatization and liberalizing economy, and changing the country’s political environment are the causes for the change of 2002 Ethiopia’s foreign policy.

The other important empirical work is the Girma et al. (Citation2021), on the Probing Ethiopian foreign policy towards Sudan and South Sudan POST-2011. The main objective of the study was to assess the Ethiopian foreign policy and its relations towards Sudan and South Sudan post-2011. Accordingly, the research shows that Ethiopia`s foreign policy played a vital role in neighboring countries including Sudan and South Sudan. Moreover, Ethiopia`s government provides political and military support for Sudan and South Sudan. It also takes part in an overriding role in peace-making and peacekeeping role, this greatly contributed to regional stability for border security, people-to-people relations, and resource sharing, especially in hydro politics.

Negara Gudeta Adula (Citation2018), in his work named “The Determinants of Ethiopian Foreign Policy under Consecutive Regimes: Appraisal of Military and EPRDF Government Determinants of Ethiopian Foreign Policy.’’ The study revealed that the demise of the military regime brought not merely change in terms of determinants of foreign policy making and execution. But also brought a shift in the foreign policy approach and orientation of the country and the establishment of a federal democratic system in Ethiopia in 1991 ushered a major paradigm shift in the making and execution of the country’s foreign policy and diplomacy.

In general, the above empirical pieces of literature have concentrated on how Ethiopian foreign policy and economic policies managed to harness stable relationships with the two competing poles of the world i.e. the traditional West and the emerging economies; who ponder foreign policy and international law nexus; the foreign policy drivers and incentives that account for enhancement of the Ethiopia`s engagement in international peacekeeping missions; and the determinants of Ethiopian foreign policy under consecutive Regimes. Furthermore, some of the studies have identified key actors in foreign policy formulation and decision-making. This aspect has almost been dealt with exhaustively in the above kinds of literature. Therefore, this work concentrates on unearthing the areas that are not covered by those studies to assess the implications of the country’s foreign policy dynamics toward the Horn of Africa.

3. Theoretical framework

Even though it is difficult to find separate foreign policy theories from international theories, there are three general theories of foreign policy. These are Offensive realism (sometimes aggressive realism), Defensive realism, Neo-classical realism, and Innenpolitik theory (Herbert, Citation2015).

According to Offensive realism theory, systemic factors are very important. It assumes that the international system isn`t characterized by order and peace. Indeed, the anarchy and full of deterrence where “security is scarce and states try to achieve it by maximizing their relative advantage” (Johnson & Thayer, Citation2016). Offensive realists utter that rational states that are pursuing security are prone to take defensive actions that can lead to offensive conflict due to the structure of the international system. Furthermore, offensive realists believe that domestic differences between countries are unimportant “because pressures from the international system are assumed to be strong and straightforward enough to make similarly situated states behave alike, regardless of their internal characteristics” (Pashakhanlou, Citation2013). Thus, foreign policy, according to this view is the outcome of nervous states competing for positions within the international system of power configuration. Therefore, to understand why the foreign policy of a particular country is forced to behave in a particular way, “offensive realists suggest one should examine its relative capabilities and its external environment because those factors will shape how the state chooses to advance its interests” (Lobell, Citation2010).

Unlike the offensive realism theory, the defensive theory sturdily “assumes that international anarchy is often more benign that is, that security is often plentiful rather than scarce”. As of defensive realist world states have not been much worried about international problems because external threats are unusual. Additionally, the theory admitted that even if threats happen to take place, rational states promptly should use a balancing mechanism to deter the scoundrel states and obviate the conflict (Snyder & Lieber, Citation2008).

On the other hand, by giving major adjustments to classical realism, the neoclassical realists’ concept comes with new thoughts. Here, according to Kenneth Waltz the core argument of the neoclassical realism theory is that “if there is any single, dominant factor shaping the broad pattern of nations’ foreign policies over time, it is their relative material power vies-a- vies the rest of the international system and so this is where analysis of foreign policy begins” (ibid: 150). To this end, Zakaria a known neoclassical realist, and Kitchen confirmed that “A good theory of foreign policy, should first ask what effect the international system has on a national behavior because the most powerful generalized characteristic of a state in international relations is its relative position in the international system” (Kitchen, Citation2010).

Furthermore, the main focus of Innenpolitik’s theory is that domestic factors shape the foreign policy behavior of a state (Ripsman et al., Citation2016). These domestic factors include politics, economics, ideology, national character, partisan politics, or socio-economic structure. The theory argues that foreign policy is best understood as the product of a country’s internal dynamics rather than its external ones (Ripsman, Citation2011). Consequently, it is important to identify the internal determinants to know the foreign policy implications of a state. Moreover, to understand why a particular country is behaving in a particular way, therefore, one should peer inside the black box and examine the preferences and configurations of key domestic actors (Rose, 1998:145).

For this study, the Innenpolitik theory is chosen as a methodological guideline for Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy under EPRDF. According to the FANSPS document, foreign policy is geared towards the manipulation of domestic problems systematically by prioritizing inward foreign policy orientation over the previous outward foreign policy (Alebachew, Citation2017). The document pursues domestic problems as the main threat and shame of the country`s image management. It further explains that if these domestic problems are overcome then the outside world can strive to make diplomatic relations (Adula, Citation2018). In this regard, the current prime minister Abiy Ahmed tour to almost all countries of the Horn of Africa and many other countries has raised the status of the country considerably in international relations. Thus, the document systematically includes manipulation of domestic and foreign situations and pursuance of skillful diplomacy enabling the country to gain more and more power into its hands and dominate foreign policy, especially in the Horn of Africa.

4. Methodology of the study

The researcher employed a qualitative method to conduct this research. In qualitative research, the researcher is central. He is the primary instrument of data collection and analysis. The researcher also plays a pivotal role in constructing concepts, theories, and principles out of detailed discussion, interviews, and observations (Creswell, Citation2013). Moreover, the qualitative strategy is a detailed description of situations, events, people interactions, observed behaviors, and direct quotations from people about their experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts.

Besides, data are collected through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews in qualitative research (Kothari, 2004). On the other hand, for this study, the researcher employed an exploratory research design because it is suitable for studying the dynamics of events and is flexible in choosing data collection methods. Primary data were collected through semi-structured and unstructured in-depth interviews. The researcher purposively selected six informants who have special knowledge and experience concerning the implications of Ethiopia`s foreign policy dynamics toward the Horn of African states. Consequently, the informants include Ambassador Ali Sharif from the Somalia embassy to Ethiopia, Ambassador Catharine Mwangi from the Kenya embassy to Ethiopia, Girma Daba from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador James Morgan from the South Sudan embassy to Ethiopia, Ambassador Mohammed Idriss from Djibouti embassy to Ethiopia and Kebede Aragaw from IGAD.

In doing so, the interviewees, and some list of questions for the semi-structured and unstructured interview were identified and prepared in advance. During the interview, informants were selected under their ahead give consent and the information offered. We, together with the interviewees chose a comfortable environment and conducted the interview taking short notes besides taping based on the willingness of the interviewee. Besides, the secondary data that were used for this study include books, articles, magazines, reports, and archives. In the case of data from different documents, the pertinent documents were identified in advance and permission was secured from its owner. The study has also tried to properly acknowledge all sources and materials as much as possible. The Innenpolitik theory has been used to analyze the implications of Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy since 1991. Lastly, the researcher employed thematic and content data analysis to explore the implications of Ethiopian Foreign Policy dynamics towards the Horn of Africa since 1991. Finally, the author triangulated primary data with secondary data.

5. Economic implications of Ethiopian foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa

Ethiopian foreign policy reads that the neighboring countries have limited capacity for economic development in the short run (Adula, Citation2018). It explains that this is because of a shortage of capital and finance; the similarity of products and markets are small with little impact on development currently. But they can positively impact our economy for the future. However, it reveals that neighboring countries can impact Ethiopia`s economic development through their ports in the long and short run (FANSPS, 2002: 59–60).

All neighboring countries, it doesn`t including South Sudan because it was not an independent country in the document, have ports but Ethiopia has not. As Ethiopia develops, the need for efficient service rendering ports will be important. Ethiopia`s stance is to use the port service for the mutual benefit of both the provider and the recipient of the service. Of course, if the neighboring countries neglect Ethiopia from port services it will be a disadvantage for all. For that reason, the port services should be exercised steadily, and predictably based on mutual benefit. As Ethiopia`s neighbors register greater economic development they could serve as an important market for Ethiopia`s products (Adem et al., Citation2018).

The current foreign policy of Ethiopia makes economic development its main means to benefit and create conducive situations for the people. Unlike its predecessors, it strongly argues that the enemy of our country is not our neighbors but our main threat is internal i.e., economic fragility. Further elaborates that the danger is widening poverty may lead to our collapse and that the absence of democracy and good governance may result in bloodshed and destruction. The best solution to this threat can be removed through overcoming poverty, through development and economic initiative.

It is only when Ethiopia builds a strong economy that we can effectively defend ourselves from external threats. Ethiopia has a truly fragile economy. Consequently, rapid development is not a neglected concept in Ethiopian foreign policy but is critical for the protection of the country`s national interests and security. That is why Ethiopia agrees that a policy designed to create a favorable atmosphere to safeguard our national interests and security should be centered on the economy.

Economic development is a very important factor for Ethiopia as well as for the HoA. Ethiopia is following an economy-centered strategy, therefore, Ethiopia`s relations of friendship should be based first of all on economic matters. Accordingly, the representative of MoFA elaborated as follows:

Our foreign policy relation gives priority to economic cooperation and integration. For instance, Somalia [especially the Somaliland] is very close to Ethiopian cities: Jijiga is 143 kilometers from Hargeisa, 301 kilometers from Berbera, and 404 kilometers from Harar. Since the distance is short, markets in this region are more integrated in terms of better communications and relative price information, allowing comparisons between alternative transaction costs, which are facilitated by relatively good, mobile phone and internet facilities in Somalia. So, our bilateral relations with Somalia also give due focus to economic integration by minimizing some irrelevant issues like terrorism. (interview, 2019)

Here, Ethiopian foreign policy should not allow entering into hostilities or friendship based on matters irrelevant to the development. It also means that Ethiopia`s external activity should focus on promoting business and investment opportunities and identifying sources for this. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the Ethiopian foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa should not view its economic-related tasks as just one of many in its external activities, but rather place economic work at the center of regional as well as international relations.

Furthermore, Ethiopia also wants to have mutual benefit with the economy of emerging new states in the Horn of Africa. For instance, Ethiopia has economic interests in South Sudan’s emerging market and its oil wealth. To this end, the two countries have signed an agreement on trade and economic development, electricity, and transportation. As a result, Ethiopia wants to boost its economic ties and emerge as a competitor in the South Sudanese market. Ethiopia shows its commitment in this regard by constructing the two roads that connect Ethiopia with South Sudan to improve bilateral economic ties. The possibilities of economic cooperation and the movement of the Ethiopian government to bring peaceful transition in South Sudan and the region at large are all important factors determining the depth and direction of the relations between Ethiopia and South Sudan (interview with MoFA & South Sudan embassy, 2019).

On the other hand, since 1991 Ethiopia has been working for the mutual benefit of all in the Horn. Currently, for instance, the Ethiopian government is striving to make economic cooperation with Somalia, Eritrea, and others. Besides, Ethiopia`s cooperation with its neighbors can optimize its chances of openness to the world by finding ways of creating synergies and saving resources. Ethiopia is going on supporting a diplomatic and mutuality post that may represent all IGAD countries, which could allow for better regional coordination on development matters and secure the stability of the HoA (interview with IGAD official, 2019).

In addition, the foreign policy shifts are now set to create good opportunities for economic cooperation in the region. Ethiopia having over 100 million people with landlocked-ness is struggling to score fast-growing economies. Consequently, Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea which are located at a critical corridor for international shipping and Red Sea coast untapped oil gas respectively; will benefit from Ethiopia. In turn, Ethiopia is guarantying peacekeeping missions and economic interdependence success in the last years run through its diplomacy, especially with Somalia and Djibouti respectively (interview with IGAD official, 2019). So, it is possible to conclude that there is a clear strategy behind the pursuit of economic interdependence which should reduce the prospect of political competition and increase economic development in the Horn.

To elaborate more, Ethiopia’s foreign policy encourages cross-border cooperation through mutual gain (Desta, Citation2018). This is helpful for the neighboring countries if they try to maximize their interest by following the logic of reasonable market factors. Friendly relations and a mutual gain approach to Ethiopian foreign policy can decrease border conflict when states cooperate to address common economic, security, and political problems. Therefore, such cooperation becomes essential as states begin to familiarize themselves with the political, economic, and security needs of states cannot be satisfied solely. So, it is hardly possible to maintain fast development, continued peace, and long-lasting stability without cooperation within the neighboring countries due to the spillover effects of issues in the Horn of Africa.

Moreover, the informant from MoFA explained the economic cooperation between Ethiopia and Djibouti since 1991 as below:

The current Ethiopian foreign policy considers the neighboring states as an input rather than a challenge to our economic development. To explain our economic relationship with Djibouti; the trade-in chat is significant between us. This trade, to the extent that it can be regulated, provides an important source of taxation and foreign exchange for both countries governments. For instance, in Ethiopia, the regional government of Harar receives approximately 40% of its income from trade, the city of Dire Dawa 60%, and Djibouti receives approximately 16% of its total tax revenue from chat. Beyond this, Djibouti is playing an important role by providing the primary port for Ethiopian exports and imports. (interview, 2019)

The above concept is consistent with the works of Klein et al. (Citation2009). They stated that the chat trade between Ethiopia and Djibouti is increasing from time to time. To this end, the Harar city of Ethiopia gets 40% from this trade and Dire Dawa town gets 60% total tax revenue. whereas the Djibouti government gets 16% total tax revenue. From this concept, it is possible to conclude that the Ethiopian foreign policy change since 1991 is playing a great role in encouraging economic integration between Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Furthermore, by agreeing on the above idea the informant from the Djibouti embassy explained that Ethiopia`s foreign policy dynamics towards the Horn have been changing the atmosphere of the region. The states of the Horn including our country Djibouti give a warm welcome for the progress and change of Ethiopian foreign policy since 1991. The states have been congratulating the change because they are aware that it is difficult to meet and satisfy complex human needs without healthy relationships (interview, 2019).

Likewise, the ongoing efforts of economic cooperation with Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan are encouraging. Ethiopia has been realizing big development projects in the spirit of creating cooperative economic development with all neighboring countries. The power transmission lines installations as well as road and railway constructions are underway with Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan, and Sudan. Moreover, a friendly and diplomatic foreign policy of Ethiopia decreases antagonism and pushes states to cooperate by establishing strong institutions like IGAD to meet the complex and various needs of their citizens. Thus, the informant scrutinizes that the current Ethiopian foreign policy is inspiring states to economic interdependence by reducing the border divisions and political conflicts that emanate from narrow state-centric perspectives.

6. Political implication of Ethiopian foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa

The current foreign policy of Ethiopia has political implications for the relationship between Ethiopia and its neighbors. This is due to Ethiopia`s large border share, a large number of populations, strong military power, and diplomatic strength. Ethiopia, also, has been able to influence regional security, economic and political agendas through sub-regional and regional organizations, like AU and IGAD respectively (Le Gouriellec, Citation2018). Therefore, the events taking place in Ethiopia have direct implications in the Horn of Africa region.

Even though Ethiopia was in a state of contradiction with its neighbors before the 1991 regime; after the coming to power of EPRDF there were foreign policy shifts toward the region and others (Cannon & Rossiter, Citation2017). To begin with, Ethiopia is playing a decisive role in the Horn of African politics. Undeniably, the informant from the South Sudan embassy thought that Ethiopia was considered an iconic actor in the birth of South Sudan. The relationship between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Ethiopia started before the coming of EPRDF. However, following the coming to power of the EPRDF in 1991, the relationship between SPLA and Ethiopia was not good. This was because of Ethiopia`s expel due to the EPRDF’s good relations with Sudan during its fight against Ethiopia’s pre-1991 government (interview, 2019). This idea is consistent with the works of Girma et al. (Citation2021). However, this antagonistic relation did not continue for long; Ethiopia resumed its support for the SPLA, partly because it was concerned about the possible threat of a militant Islamic government in Khartoum, even before the National Islamic Front (NIF) started threatening Ethiopia’s security (interview, 2019).

Additionally, Ethiopia was also described as influential in drafting the Declarations of Principles (DOP) in 1994, which recognized the South Sudanese right to self-determination and later became the basis for IGAD’s peace initiative, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) (Ayferam & Muchie, Citation2016). Accordingly, after the signing of the CPA, Ethiopia as a chair of IGAD has played an important role in the successful implementation of the CPA and resulting South Sudanese referendum. In the end, the combined effect of the policies and actions of Ethiopia and other regional and international actors led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011 (Yihun, Citation2013a; interview with IGAD and South Sudan officials, 2019). To conclude, in continuation of its role Ethiopia is serving as a trust partner for peacekeeping in the border areas of Abyei in South Sudan and Sudan.

On the other hand, Ethiopia is a powerful driver of external engagement in Somalia (Rein, Citation2015). Ethiopia has an effective and well-entrenched intelligence network. Even the USA is dependent on Ethiopia for reliable intelligence in Somalia. To this end, the Ethiopian military also has the experience and the technical capacity to successfully execute military operations in Somalia, and it is well acquainted with the Somali terrain (Mulugeta, Citation2014).

Furthermore, the existence of the Ethiopian military in Somalia is very advantageous due to Ethiopia`s military has a better understanding concerning the nature and objectives of most of the Somali political actors and the rules of the political game in Somalia. Ethiopia’s military and intelligence presence in Somalia over an extended period proves that it has an assertive Somalia policy. It is capable and willing to do what it takes if its national security is threatened (Williams, Citation2018). Although it is difficult to predict what will happen in Somalia, given the political dynamism and complexity of its politics and security, Ethiopia will certainly continue to cautiously and closely monitor political developments in Somalia (interview with Somalia embassy official, 2019).

Following foreign policy change in 1991, Ethiopia played a key role in hosting several Somalia Peace Conferences since the UN-led reconciliation efforts in the early 1990s. Ethiopia has been supporting the resolution process of Somalia’s crises since the early 1990s (Hassan Abdi Aden, 2010). Indeed, the first peace conference was held in Ethiopia-Addis Ababa in 1992. Again, the March 1993 Conference on National Reconciliation held at Addis Ababa-Ethiopia, April–May; the National Salvation Council of Sodere, held in Ethiopia from November 1996 to January 1997; the 2000 March Conference held in Ethiopia, Hawassa; and many others unlisted are the peace process initiatives assisted and facilitated by Ethiopia during the last two decades. According to the informant for such peace conferences, Ethiopia has organized an International Committee. In so doing, Ethiopia has allocated lots of its financial resources and is trying many times by taking responsibility to deal with different warlords to bring political stability to Somalia and HoA. The informant conveys that Ethiopia has helped Somalia breathe the air of peace and hope relatively. As a result of this Somalia has conducted a democratic election and the country is now adopting a federal structure (Ibid, 2019).

More rightly, the recent political decision of the Ethiopian government towards Eritrea has brought an end to 20 years of war between them. In fact, according to the informant from IGAD, on 5 June the governing EPRDF coalition announced that it would accept the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) ruling, which includes the transfer of Badme, the epicenter of the conflict, to Eritrea. Also, the two states` governments signed the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, ending 20 years of war and including an agreement on implementing the border decision and restoring diplomatic, economic, and communications agreements, among other issues (interview, 2019).

This Historical peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia that was reached in 2018 led to breakthroughs in various regional disputes (Marchal, Citation2020). Here, the best example is the normalization of the dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti that was caused regarding Dumeira. On 7 September 2018, both countries announced the normalization of their relations following a visit by Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh to Djibouti. Likewise, Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf announced the start of a new era of relations between both countries. Osman Saleh appeared in Djibouti accompanied by his respective Somali and Ethiopian counterparts, Ahmed Isse Awad and Workneh Gebeyehu (the former Ethiopian foreign minister), who traveled to Djibouti to facilitate the dialogue. For Eritrea, resolving the dispute with its neighbors was the last obstacle to lifting the UN sanctions and ending its international isolation. Indeed, the informant concluded that the peace between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti could lead to greater regional political stability, according to the informant (interview with IGAD official, 2019).

Furthermore, the official from the Djibouti embassy (2019) depicts:

Everyone has praised Ethiopia and Eritrea’s decision to abandon war paths for peace and re-establish diplomatic and economic ties. It meant one less problem for the region and one step closer to long-term peace and stability in the Horn of Africa. This is also a historic and significant development with far-reaching positive implications for Djibouti, and Eritrea’s relationship. This growing reconciliation between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki will aid Djibouti and Eritrea in resolving our differences peacefully. (interview, 2019)

As we can understand from the above interview data, the diplomatic and cooperative foreign policy of Ethiopia will help Djibouti to solve its problem with Eritrea diplomatically. Besides, the informants from the Kenya embassy also confirmed that Ethiopia`s accommodating foreign policy will have a positive impact on the conflict between Eritrea and Djibouti.

Certainly, current Ethiopia`s foreign policy shifts are solving their difference through diplomatic means. Ethiopia has been realizing big projects in the spirit of creating a stable region with all neighboring countries (Müller, Citation2019). So, Ethiopia`s foreign policy has given due attention to the Horn of Africa politics and has come up with solutions with a sense of progressing together. It has made it clear that Ethiopia’s development cannot be realized without pacifying the whole region. Accordingly, it has been working since then.

7. Security implications of Ethiopian foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa

In this regard, the document has some sort of suspicion towards the Horn of African states. It explains that neighboring countries could play a negative role in discouraging democracy in Ethiopia. This can be through promoting religious extremism or providing the territory to religious extremists, and religious intolerance. Ethiopia has doubts about neighboring countries as if they make Ethiopia vulnerable to attack by external forces by using the neighboring countries as instruments. Generally, the document revealed that neighboring countries could seek to gain undue benefit from Ethiopia or to disturb Ethiopia`s peace directly or indirectly by falling under the influence of other forces (FANSPS, 2002:30).

For that reason, Ethiopia`s diplomatic work must aim at eliminating or at least reducing external security threats. The security of Ethiopia cannot be secured by solely activities but it needs the collaboration of all Horn of African states. This is why Ethiopian foreign policy is motivated to broaden the number of foreign friends that can help to create a regional and global atmosphere favorable for Ethiopia`s peace and security. Ethiopia`s diplomatic activity also aims at forecasting potential threats and addressing them through dialogue and negotiation. Thus, the policy should also secure allies that can help us withstand intractable challenges and threats (FANSPS, 2002: 24).

Recent Ethiopia`s promising foreign policy dynamics offer hope for its people and externally draw stability, cooperation, and peace. Since 1991 Ethiopia added a new area of focus on regional security through mutual gain, cooperation, and friendship with neighboring countries (Záhořík, Citation2017). These dynamics possibly will constitute a main enhancement in addressing the shortcomings of Ethiopia’s regional diplomatic practices, regardless of the previous suspicion and enmity of foreign policy orientation. Here, in doing so, the policy is crucial in the bilateral relation between two or more states, especially in the HoA, which in turn gives a lesson for neighboring countries in which most of the countries get into conflict because of borders (Interview with MoFA official, 2019).

Furthermore, referring to the various outlooks on Ethiopia’s relative stability as one of the fastest-running peace in the region, Ethiopia is exemplary of the bright spots and progress in Africa. Recent promising mega trends in political and relative stability in the region, coupled with unexpected reforms and fueled by fast-growing rapprochement have created a surge of interest in economic development and opportunity for cooperation for the region. Unreservedly Ethiopian foreign policy has adopted that a country that is not peaceful domestically cannot enjoy peace with its neighbors (Mesfin, Citation2012). Therefore, it gives lessons for other countries to solve their internal problems rather than externalizing.

On the other hand, Ethiopia is focusing on its peace and security challenges so that it can also have peaceful relations with other countries ever before. For the establishment of a peaceful, integrated, and prosperous region, Ethiopia believes it is also equally necessary for its neighbors to enjoy domestic peace and stability. Ethiopia has signed comprehensive economic cooperation agreements with Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan. To this end, Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a bilateral agreement that includes rapprochement and peaceful co-existence. It can be mentioned as the first in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea after the decisive war between them. The agreement may close the hostile chapters in the relations of the two countries. This new rapprochement extends to distance Horn of African countries. Moreover, the informant concludes that Ethiopia is enjoying strong security collaboration with Eritrea (after the rise of Prime Minister Abiy), Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan, especially after 1991 (interview with IGAD official, 2019).

Similarly, the HoA is in a swift and crucial diplomatic turnaround. Even though HoA was in hostility and rivalry, a recent thaw in relations between nations in the region has shocked observers and brought hope for long-term peace (Tegegne, 2016; Gideon, 2011). Surprisingly, Ethiopia and Eritrea started a new chapter of relations by ending decades of hostilities. The two states have agreed to reopen borders and embassies and resume flights between their capitals (interview with Djibouti embassy official, 2019).

To further elaborate, the Ethiopian diplomatic movement has a regional security effect. Here, the best example to be mentioned is following the Ethio-Eritrea rapprochement or peace the others, probably the year hostility i.e., Mogadishu accusing Asmara of funneling money to insurgents has ceased. On the other hand, as it was recent history there was a border conflict between Eritrea and Djibouti which occurred over the Dumeira Mountain and Dumeira Island around Red Sea; this border dispute ended following the lesson Ethiopia’s peace initiation.

The Somalia diplomat to Ethiopia, expressed the security implications of Ethiopia as follows:

Ethiopia joins Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone as the sixth African country to contribute troops to the African Union force in Somalia. Ethiopia’s participation contributes to the AU force reaching 22,000 troops. The Ethiopians are familiar with the region; we will move quickly, with the capture of more territory and the liberation of more towns as our top priorities. Ethiopian troops are assisting in the consolidation of existing gains and the liberation of other areas from Al-Shabaab. Ethiopia is also working with residents to re-establish local civilian administrations in liberated areas. (interview, 2019)

As it is conceptualized from the above interview data, Ethiopia’s military intervention in Somalia created a window of opportunity for the deployment of AMISOM, providing some hope and impetus to Somalia’s peace process and state-building. It also strengthened regional security cooperation by incorporating Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Djibouti into AMISOM. Ethiopia’s military intervention in Somalia also helped drive Al-Shabab out of its major strongholds. This is also consistent with Jarle Hansen, who explained that “the greatest defeats suffered by Al-Shabab were inflicted by Ethiopian forces” (2012). Moreover, all informants of this study agreed on the above information forwarded by the Somalia diplomat to Ethiopia and appreciated Ethiopia’s participation in preserving peace in Somalia specifically and in the Horn of Africa at large.

It also plays an important role in establishing regional and local administrations in liberated areas, although the progress on the ground appears to be slow. Ethiopia has also participated in its limited area of activity and is now operating under AMISOM. Ethiopia is also working with the Horn of African states to re-establish security in the region (Interview with MoFA official, 2019). Ethiopia is also participating in giving military training for Somali soldiers to improve local security. Consequently, Ethiopia’s recent engagement in Somalia is increasingly seen as constructive and positive doings. These activities have brought appreciation from the international community for its role in Somalia and consider Ethiopia as a reliable and capable partner.

Similarly, Ethiopia’s role in Somaliland and Punt land is also an indication of its positive engagement, arguably. Ethiopia has friendly relations with Somaliland (Ali, Citation2011), which declared its independence in 1991 but has not yet been recognized by the international community. Their relationship started in the 1980s. During Somaliland`s war with northern Somalia, she got military support from Ethiopia. Unlike the northern part of Somalia, Somaliland emerged as a stable political system with a functioning government, disciplined and regularly paid military and police, and democratic elections (Arieff, 2008). Ethiopia is the first state that participated in Somaliland’s state-building process and describes the relationship as strategic. Thus, Ethiopia has been providing military training for Somaliland’s different security forces to consolidate the relative peace achieved there (Interview with MoFA official, 2019).

On the other hand, MoFA officials explained the role of Ethiopia in preserving peace between South Sudan and Sudan on Abyei as follows:

The provision of regional peace and security is a major political consideration in Ethiopia’s provision of peacekeepers, and participation in international peacekeeping increases Ethiopia`s regional and international influence. Ethiopia has committed troops to peacekeeping missions in Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur, and, most recently, Somalia and Abyei, a contentious border region between Sudan and South Sudan. When Sudanese forces occupied Abyei (town) in mid-2011, tensions in the region erupted. On June 20, 2011, the parties agreed to demilitarize Abyei and allow Ethiopian troops to monitor the area. Likewise, Ethiopia deployed nearly 4,200 troops to Abyei under the banner of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) beginning on July 22, 2011. Our senior general is also serving as the mission’s political and military commander. Since then, the Ethiopian military under the mission of the UN has been serving as a peacekeeping force in Abyei. (interview, 2019)

From the above data, it is possible to understand that Ethiopia is an essential contributor to the peace process between Sudan and South Sudan. Beyond this Ethiopia is also contributing the kindest and trustworthy cooperation to bring peace and stability to the Horn of Africa. The same token Ethiopia is helping the UN mission that has been tasked with demilitarizing Abyei and monitoring the peace process. Ethiopia also actively participated in the AU-led mediation process between South Sudan and Sudan. The officials from South Sudan and IGAD also agree that Ethiopia is instrumental in the peace process between Sudan and South Sudan.

Generally, even though, it is implausible to conclude the whole security implications in this piece of sections; it is worth to conclude as the informants lauded. Ethiopia`s strive to achieve regional security that achieved through diplomatic negotiation has extended to the Horn of Africa. This security is bringing peace between Ethiopia and its neighboring states. Here, the best example is the relationship with Somalia and Eritrea. There is No more proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in turn this can be a great lesson for the rest of the HoA states. Generally, Ethiopia is using diplomatic means to implement internal and external missions. So, neighboring states should take this soft power as the best alternative to implement their goals.

8. Foreign policy change

For Kjell Goldmann (1988) foreign policy change is the problems and possibilities of improvement specifically to address the pressure in international and national politics whereby states face pressures to change policies from the past (through changing conditions in the environment, learning, and domestic political changes that produce new leaders with new ideas), yet there remains a strong tendency to stick to the policies of the past. The “unresolved issue in foreign policy theory,” he states, is to establish “what factors determine whether, when, and to what extent pressure for change in a policy will produce change” (Goldmann, 1988: 3).

Goldmann specifically looks at how “stabilizers” intervene with sources of foreign policy change. “A source of policy change is an event tending to start a process of policy change. A stabilizer is a variable affecting the likelihood that such an event will set a process of change in motion and/or the extent to which a process of change will be completed and produce a policy change” (Ibid.: 4).

Stabilizers determine whether or not inputs from sources of foreign policy change set a process of policy change in motion. Stabilizers reduce the sensitivity by blocking foreign policy change, reducing the scope of change, or delaying change. Goldmann assumes that “in the absence of stabilizers, policies are highly sensitive” (ibid. 16).

According to (Hermann, Citation1990: 3) foreign policy can be changed when the government chooses to redirect foreign policy for interpreting decisions in which a government decides to change policy direction specifically. He identifies four graduated levels of foreign policy change: adjustment changes (change in the level and scope of recipients); program changes (qualitative changes in the methods and means); problem/goal changes (where the initial problem or goal is replaced or forfeited, purposes replaced); and international orientation changes (the redirection of a country’s entire orientation toward world affairs, a simultaneous shift in all international roles and activities). The escalation of American involvement in Vietnam, followed by its extrication, is provided as an example illustrating all four levels of graduate change. Whereas according to the researcher Ethiopia`s foreign policy change is both adjustment and program change. Hermann also outlines four agents of major foreign policy change these are as follows: leader-driven, bureaucratic advocacy, domestic restructuring, and external shock.

To begin with leader driven foreign policy change results from the determined efforts of a government that imposes its vision of the basic redirection necessary in foreign policy (ibid: 11). This Hermann says, requires the leader to have the conviction, power, and energy necessary to compel the change. Under bureaucratic advocacy, a group or organization within the government that has access to top officials becomes the agent of change. Hermann suggests that individuals in the middle levels of government often have the knowledge to recognize when a policy is not working, as well as the expertise to overcome resistance. Under domestic restructuring, the agent of change comes from outside the government structure and is defined as “the politically relevant segment of the society whose support the regime needs to govern” (Hermann, Citation1990: 12).

9. Change and resistance to change, in foreign policy

Change is a fundamental concept in the social sciences. Even more fundamentally, as argued by Lundquist, change is the natural state of modern society, and we cannot understand society unless we acknowledge this fact. Capturing change requires an understanding of time. This means that we cannot understand social phenomena fully unless we analyze them as part of a historical current (Verjee, Citation2021). Situations or cases that look identical, when analyzed in a static framework, may indeed be completely different when seen in a dynamic perspective (Lundquist, 2006).

When it comes to foreign policy, it is possible to assume that there is a foreign policy change in all countries and at all times which is characterized by adjusting itself with continuity and change “in response to internal developments and external circumstances” (Skidmore, Citation1994, p. 44). Whereas at the highest level, a state may either resist or adjust to international change’, the research would strongly agree with the statement that most states “are continuously in the process of adjusting to changes in international and domestic systems” (Ikenberry, John, 1986: 54).

Accordingly, every nation including Ethiopia develops its foreign policy to define how it will conduct its relations with other countries. The formation of policy revolves around a few basic, essentially self-serving principles. Regardless of how any particular country clothes its motivations in high principles or moral values, altruism is not necessarily a significant factor in the formation of policy. However, states should take into consideration the internal and external systems. Because due to globalization the policy of a state may have a direct impact on the neighboring and international level. Especially, the horn of African state’s policies and actions have a direct impact on each other’s.

Furthermore, the concept of change develops with the development of the human mind. It is a fundamental concept in the social sciences. For Lundquist (2001), change is the natural state of modern society, and we cannot understand society unless we acknowledge this fact. Capturing change requires an understanding of time. This means that we cannot understand social phenomena fully unless we analyze them as part of a historical current. Situations or cases that look identical, when analyzed in a static framework, may indeed be completely different when seen in a dynamic perspective (Lundquist, 2001).

To analyze moreover, the concept of change regarding foreign policy, we can assume that there is change and transformation almost in all countries and at all times. This change can be the result of a dynamic between continuity and change either resisting or adjusting to international change (Chen & Hawaz, Citation2020). The researcher would agree with the statement that most states including Ethiopia are continuously in the process of adjusting to changes in international and domestic systems.

10. Conclusions

With the benefit of hindsight, it is apparent that, after the 1991 political change, Ethiopia has built an idealistic foreign policy that hinged on the defining precept that peaceful and good relations should be established with all neighboring states (Chala, Citation2020). As neatly summed up by the study moving beyond rhetoric to applying a policy of good neighborly relations in a region; Ethiopia has undergone important political, economic, and security transformations at both domestic and regional levels. In turn, the transformations have brought influences that in some cases extend to shifting policy concentration from the underlying foundations, especially towards the horn. Thus, in principle, the policy has been compromised by the policy change and behavioral changes of the policy in many regards.

Accordingly, the study revealed that current Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the Horn of African countries has economic, political, and security implications. Ethiopia is creating mutual development and diplomatic negotiations with its neighboring countries (Quinn & Akyol, Citation2021).

To start with, as the study concluded, Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa does not view its economic-related tasks as just one of many in its external activities but rather places economic work at the center of regional as well as international relations. The policy is designed to place economic work at the center of regional as well as international relations (Chen & Hawaz, Citation2020). To this end, Ethiopia is constructing railways, roads, and electricity, to connect with Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea. The policy doesn`t expect to implement the economic issues based solely on self-centered means solely, rather on a common purpose. Thus, it is possible to scrutinize that the current Ethiopian foreign policy is inspiring states to economic interdependence and mutual economic benefit (Yihun, Citation2013b). The policy also expects neighboring countries to use their ports through mutual benefits with Ethiopia and others.

Furthermore, according to the study, Ethiopia is continuously involved in the political issues in the Horn of Africa. Especially, the involvement of Ethiopia in Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan have opened a window of opportunity for the deployment of, at least, AMISOM, and IGAD (Doop, Citation2013). Which in turn has given some hope and impetus for the consolidation of the peace process and political stability in these states. Ethiopia’s role is a good example and is used as a persuasive action and alarming ring for regional security and political cooperation in the Horn of Africa. So, the study revealed that Ethiopia`s foreign policy has given due attention to the Horn of Africa politics and has come up with solutions with a sense of progressing together

As made clear by this study, recent Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the Horn of African states also has security implications. The policy puts the importance of stability and peace for Ethiopia and the Horn equally. Ethiopia is playing an active role in regional peace and security issues through diplomatic engagement, military intervention, mediation, and peacekeeping activities. Ethiopia has also managed to drive regional peace and security issues through IGAD and the AU (Maru & Demissie, Citation2018). Ethiopia has signed comprehensive economic cooperation agreements with Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan. No African state is playing a pivotal role in the peacekeeping aspect like Ethiopia. Ethiopia has ranked as the first contributor of peacekeeping troops in Africa (UN, 2014). Generally, although, the policy believes that neighboring countries have a bigger capacity to adversely affect Ethiopia`s peace; the policy still focuses on dealing with contradictions through discussion and negotiation rather than military or force. Consequently, as the study concluded, the current Ethiopian foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa has political, economic, and security implications.

On the final note, since 1991, Ethiopia’s national interests have been completely redefined to focus on the country’s internal vulnerabilities and problems, political and economic, unlike focusing on the externalizing of the problems as its predecessors (Shi Yinglun, 2020). The result, systematically laid out in the Foreign Policy and National Security Strategy a few years ago, identified the major threats to Ethiopia and indeed to its survival are economic backwardness and the desperate poverty in which a large majority of the people exist, together with the understanding of the need for democracy and good governance and the establishment of a democratic structure and government at all levels throughout the country (Ministry of Information Press & Audiovisual Department, Citation2002). Devoid of these, Ethiopia would be unable to survive as a state. Its very existence would be in doubt.


My first heartfelt thank goes to the informants of this study. My Second sincere gratitude also goes to the reviewers and editors of this manuscript who remark importantly and valuably.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Additional information


To conduct this research, the author received no direct funding.


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Dear informants, this research intended to explore the implications of Ethiopia`s foreign policy dynamics towards the Horn of Africa since 1991. You are kindly requested to answer the interview questions. Hence, the information you provided will be used only for academic purposes. Dear interviewees, I would like to thank you in advance for your help in conducting this interview.

Directions: – To process this interview the researcher prepared some guiding interview questions. Dear interviewees, you can leave or stop the interview process whenever you feel uncomfortable.

Appendix I.

Interview Questions

  • 1. About to explore the factors that determine Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa.
    • 1.1. What do you think about the factors that determine Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the horn after the coming of EPRDF?
    • 1.2. What are the implications of the factors that influenced Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa after the coming of EPRDF?
  • 2. Examine the political implication of Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa
    • 2.1. In your opinion, how do you see the current foreign policy of Ethiopia concerning its implication for better regional political cooperation towards the Horn of Africa?
    • 2.2. Do you think the current foreign policy of Ethiopia is adequate to respond to HoA political instability?
    • 2.3. What role, if any, Ethiopia`s foreign policy is playing in regional political cooperation?
    • 2.4. What political implication, if any, should other neighboring states learn from the current Ethiopian foreign policy?
  • 3. Investigate the economic implication of Ethiopia`s foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa.
    • 3.1. In your opinion, how do you see the current foreign policy of Ethiopia about its implication for regional economic cooperation towards the Horn of Africa?
    • 3.2. Do you think the current foreign policy of Ethiopia is adequate to respond to HoA’s economic problems?
    • 3.3. What economic implication, if any, should other neighboring states learn from the current Ethiopian foreign policy?
  • 4. Examining the implication of Ethiopia`s foreign policy for the Horn of African security complex
    • 4.1. Although, Conflict and insecurity threats have persisted for around two decades in the horn: relative stability has arrived between Ethiopia and its neighbors after EPDF except Eritrea. In your view, what is the role of Ethiopia`s foreign policy in overcoming/reducing these security challenges to HoA?
    • 4.2. In your opinion, how could the current Ethiopian foreign policy formulated to respond better to regional security challenges?
    • 4.3. What role, if any, should Ethiopia’s foreign policy be playing in regional conflict management?
    • 4.4. What do you consider to be the most important function of Ethiopian foreign policy towards the peace process in the HoA?
    • 4.5. What would be the likely security implication of Ethiopian foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa?
  • 5. If there is/are any other comment (s).

Appendix II.

List of Interviewees

List of Interviewees


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