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Consolidating the Horn from the outside is all the rage in the twilight of the modern world system. Before looking at the economic imperatives of consolidating the Horn from the inside, (citizens/member countries) we will look at the ‘all of a sudden interests’ emanating from the outside. There are two opposing camps working towards this consolidation project. One is represented by empire and its associates in MENA (Middle East & North Africa). By empire, we usually mean the triad (Samir’s word; God bless his soul), the US, Western Europe and Japan. Here, the strategy is more or less known; it is to maintain the global status quo with the reigning hegemon intact at the helm. The other is the interest pursued by the new ascending powers spearheaded, for the most part, by China and Russia. The SCO ensemble (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) is probably the real representative of this new gathering force!
The BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) of the Chinese is a massive undertaking that can potentially rearrange the current world order. It envisions integrating economically (hence, culturally, etc., etc.) the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The Eurasian project is already underway and the SCO is going to be the main vehicle for this project. The Eurasia land mass contains the largest known deposit of fossil fuel (including natural gas), to say nothing about other natural resources. It is also home to about 45% of the total human population. The BRI is going to be an integrated economic system that is going to rely, mostly, on road and rail networks. To recall; Russian and China are land based powers. These countries are now determined, more than ever, to leverage their physical geography to advance a global system that will have its center of gravity more towards the east. The stakeholders in this new system will be the numerous states and their population, as they will be critical to the functioning of the whole amalgam. Therefore, as far as the new ascending new project is concerned, multi-polarity is already baked in. This inclusively encompassing project, on its own, can have a stabilizing influence amongst the numerous nations that have been in conflicts for centuries. Geography is going to become destiny, again!
The BRI initiative also includes our continent. To that end, a corridor or corridors are needed to connect Eurasia and Africa. The best option for this seems to be along the Res Sea coast. Bab-el-Mendeb is a strait between the two continents and has a span of only 20 km! This is another of the choke points of the global sea routes, like the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Directly or indirectly controlling such Straits has been critical to the previous/current sea powers of the world system, namely the British and the American empires. Relinquishing the management of these sea passages to a new multipolar arrangement is bound to undermine the existing status quo, hence, might not be welcomed by empire, to say the least! Be that as it may, the two camps (empire & SCO) implicitly agree on the need to have reliable and permanent security zone around the Strait of Bab-el-Mendeb. In regards to this particular objective, the current war in Yemen is not going to help. To counteract the current situation on the Asian side of the Red Sea, the African coast must be strengthened, per force!
The oil kingdoms and powerful others want to protect this critical sea route, which is used for transporting goods, including oil to Europe and beyond. The Strait of Bab-el-Mendeb is becoming increasingly important as the Strait of Hormuz becomes increasingly volatile. If the Strait of Hormuz runs into potential difficulty, on the account of disagreements between Iran and the US, the only way to get oil out of Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be via Yemen, Oman or the Red Sea (assuming the northern route via Syria, etc. will remain inaccessible)! The former two might not always be compliant to empire’s desire (for various reasons), leaving the Red Sea as the more realistic option. And for that to happen, pipelines need to be built across the Arabian Peninsula all the way to the Red Sea coast! Far fetched as this might sound, the scenario is being entertained by the rich and the powerful. To this end, a meaningful naval force must also be established in the Horn, to protect the Strait ob Bab-el-Mendeb and the whole Red Sea coast. Amongst others, the ports of Assab and Massawa need to be revived. Even though Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, assuring the safety of vessels, in its proximity, has become problematic after the collapse of the Mogadishu government in 1991. Besides, Somalia might be a bit off, geographically speaking. Today the consensus (amongst both contending groups) seems to be: the consolidated Horn, backstopped by landlocked Ethiopia, is probably the best option to secure the safety of the Red Sea, particularly the Strait of ‘Bab-el-Mendeb’. This, in a nutshell, is why the ‘sudden’ interest in the Horn, by various parties!
Unless BRI is severely impeded by empire, here we are going to coin a new word, Eurasiafric, will end up becoming the largest and biggest economic zone in the world. With a population of over 50% of humanity and the largest deposits of remaining natural resources on earth, to say nothing about its hardly tapped market, Eurasiafric, can easily reconfigure the existing world system! BRI envisions connecting African countries by road and rail networks, thereby economically empowering many of the poorer nations of the world system in the process. Herein lies the challenge to the global status quo, which is adamantly determined to continue leveraging the ‘good old’ polarizing globalization! The Anglo-American empire needs to assess its geo-strategy, rather soberly. We believe, the current hegemon must try to approach the whole scenario with a spirit of cooperation rather than confrontation. See the articles next column and on page 50. At times, letting go is the best policy! Most importantly, diversity is going to be the only game in the universe of Eurasiafric. Hence, the old model of accumulation that leveraged slavery, colonialism, racism, ethnic-ism, religion, sexism, etc. might well be inoperative in the years to come!
“Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty. Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858. Good Day!