3policies in the region but has been less willing to criticize missteps by South Sudan. In themeantime, there was a sharp deterioration in U.S. relations with Eritrea that can be attributed to
Asmara’s support for extremist elements
in Somalia and its threats against neighboring Djibouti.Counterterrorism continues to be a major part of U.S. policy in the region, but it has becomemore nuanced under the Obama administration.
A Regional Approach to U.S. Policy in the Horn
There has rarely been an occasion since the end of World War II when the United Statespursued a regional approach to conflict mitigation in the Horn of Africa. One effort to engage inregional conflict resolution in the Horn occurred during the Clinton administration with theGreater Horn of Africa Initiative (GHAI). It had as its focus regional conflict mitigation anddonor support for improving regional food security infrastructure. An ambitious initiative, itincluded the then seven members of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)in addition to Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Its principal African partner was IGAD.Although GHAI had some success in improving food security in the region, it ultimatelyfailed to achieve its goal of mitigating conflict for the following reasons:
First, new conflicts in the region, particularly the completely unexpected war betweenEthiopia and Eritrea, overwhelmed the ability of the United States to make any progresson existing conflicts.
Second, some U.S. personnel, including a number of key individuals in the field, werenot committed to a regional approach to conflict mitigation; their focus was the bilateralrelationship.
Third, although there were regular consultations with other donors, there was not enoughinvolvement by them in the initiative.
Fourth, IGAD was (and still is) a weak organization with internal divisions.IGAD is only as strong as the unity of its members. The United States contributed to thedisunity within the organization. For a number of years in the mid and late 1990s, Ethiopia,Eritrea and Uganda, with encouragement from the United States,
opposed Omar Bashir’s policies
in the region generally and South Sudan particularly. The outbreak of conflict in 1998 betweenEthiopia and Eritrea ended opposition to Sudan by these countries on the grounds that the enemyof enemy is my friend.
It also ended the U.S. “front line states” policy against Sudan. T
he warterminated the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea and strained their ability tocooperate within IGAD.In 2007, Eritrea suspended its IGAD membership following Ethiopia
military interventionin Somalia. IGAD eventually imposed sanctions on Eritrea. Eritrea officially asked in July 2011to rejoin IGAD. The request is under consideration but has already resulted in one kerfufflewhen in August the Eritrean representative showed up uninvited at the 40
ordinary session of