The March-April 2018 issue of the Horn of Africa Bulletin touches on an overarching theme that was also addressed in the May-June 2015 and September-October 2017 issues of the HAB. These preceding issues of the HAB sought to problematise and analyse the rising geopolitical significance of Djibouti and the expanding Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ‘footprint’ in the Horn of Africa and the possible consequences for peace and security in the region.
The current HAB issue, however, is atypical and at the same time extremely topical in addressing an issue that has been traditionally on the margins of political-security discourse in the Horn of Africa. Maritime insecurity has tended to be side-lined in conventional thinking on peace and security in the Horn. ‘Sea-blindness’ as a factor in peace and security policy deliberations has the effect of downgrading the criticality of the maritime domain to the security of states and the human security of their citizens. Limited maritime domain awareness and sea-blindness as a factor in maritime policy in Africa in general and specifically the Horn of Africa can be understood as a function or consequence of history, socio-economic under-development and constraints/limitations in terms of maritime power projection. In the Horn, maritime insecurity only emerged as a key issue in policy and public discourse with the onset of piracy in the waters off the coast of Somalia in the years 2002-2012, and consequent international response.
The articles in this issue of the HAB offer a rich and diverse set of views on maritime issues in relation to the IGAD region, which readers will find very interesting especially as the focus and perspectives of some of the authors are not often reflected in mainstream media and academic discourse on the subject.