#Med2021 - Agenda

MED Panels


Between Africa and the Middle East: Geopolitical Competition in the Red Sea


Effects and consequences of the Suez Canal blockade have revealed the profound strategic centrality of the Red Sea as a transit route for oil and commercial flows. From a geopolitical angle, the Red Sea area is crossed by multiple interests, underlying a strong interconnection between its two shores: the Arabian Peninsula and the Greater Horn of Africa. The proliferation of port infrastructures and military facilities in coastal areas of Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia highlights the crucial relevance of Eastern Africa’s states for the Gulf states as well as other external powers involved in the region, such as Russia, Turkey or China. At the same time, state actors in the Horn of Africa leverage on their strategic position to attract investments, allowing ruling élites to strengthen their grip on power.

What are the main features of the geostrategic competition between rival powers in the Red Sea? What are the Gulf states’ interests in the region? And how to explain African actors’ agency?

Panel Discussion

Brendon J. Cannon, Assistant Professor, Khalifa University of Science & Technology

Hassan Khannenje, Director, Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies

Camille Lons, Research Associate, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)


Giovanni Carbone, Head, Africa Programme, Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and Professor of Political Science, University of Milan