The Horn of Africa volatile pattern of alliance formation and its implications for state-making at the borderland: Saho/Irob of Northern Ethiopia (1998-2018)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The Horn of Africa is at the epicenter of global economic shifts with significant strategic and political implications. Against this background, the paper aims to contribute to understanding the region's security dynamics since the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea (1998-2000) until the more recent rapprochement in 2018 between Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea's President Issaias Afewerki. This rapprochement had a direct impact for the borderland groups because it was followed by the opening of the border in September 2019, without restrictions initially for both Ethiopian and Eritrean citizens. Since December 2018 however Eritrea has introduced the requirement of a permit from the federal government to allow Ethiopians to cross the border. This article draws on original empirical research among a partitioned group the Saho ( the most recent between 3-22 January 2019) on the Ethiopian side of the border, the ethnic group referred to as the Irob. The article will shed light on the strategies and shifting identities that a borderland group created in order to adapt to the changes around a previously porous border and the implications of the wider region's security dynamics for those groups commonly viewed as being at the periphery of sovereign states.
Period12 Jun 2019
Event title8th European Conference on African Studies: Africa: Connections and Disruptions
Event typeConference
Conference number8
LocationEdimburgo, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Ethiopia
  • Horn of Africa
  • State Formation
  • Borderland
  • Eritrea
  • Irob