UAE Security Forum 2019: Reshaping the Future of the Horn of Africa

For the fourth consecutive year, AGSIW convened the UAE Security Forum, where U.S., UAE, and regional partners gathered to find creative solutions to some of the region’s most pressing challenges.


Welcome Remarks

8:45 am – 9:00 am

Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman, President, AGSIW

Introductory Remarks

9:00 am – 9:10 am

Ambassador John Rakolta Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates

Morning Keynote

9:10 am – 10:00 am

Brigadier General Miguel Castellanos, Deputy Director for Operations, U.S. Africa Command

Session I – Growing Global and Regional Competition in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea

10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Deepening Gulf Arab engagement in the Horn of Africa is shaped by calculations regarding the region’s strategic location and economic potential on the part of global and regional powers. This competition for influence raises risks of new conflict but also gives greater leverage to Horn of Africa leaders to bargain for better deals or play patrons off one another.

What conflicting interests are at play in the Horn of Africa, and East Africa more broadly, and how have political and military actors in the region seized on these rivalries to advance their own goals? What can regional leaders do to minimize the negative impact of external rivalries and stengthen intra-African relationships? What are the prospects for regional forums through which concerned states might come together to discuss shared interests, identify emerging threats, and create solutions?


Abdul Mohammed, Chief of Staff and Senior Political Advisor, African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and South Sudan
Ambassador Alexander Rondos, EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa
Susan Stigant, Director of Africa Programs, United States Institute of Peace
Mina Al-Oraibi, Editor in Chief, The National (Moderator)

Networking Lunch

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Keynote Session

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

H.E. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, United Arab Emirates

Session II – Gulf-Horn Ties: The Road Ahead

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Across the Horn of Africa evidence is mounting that Gulf Arab countries see the region as critically important to their long-term national interests. The Gulf countries’ economic engagement with the Horn of Africa has expanded to include military partnerships and political alliances.

As the region is poised for strong economic growth over the next generation, how can Gulf capital help develop much-needed seaport, rail, and pipeline infrastructure? How can the countries of the Horn of Africa, and East Africa more broadly, leverage competing interests to their advantage and achieve economic growth? Can Gulf Arab countries successfully compete for influence in the region as larger global powers, especially China, jockey for position? Will this resurgent interest incentivize political cooperation and greater economic integration across the emerging Red Sea arena?


Ambassador Tom Kelly, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, Raytheon International; Former U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti
Murithi Mutiga, Project Director, Horn of Africa, International Crisis Group
Abdullah Al-Saud, Director of Research and Head of the Security Studies Research Unit, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies
Hussein Ibish, Senior Resident Scholar, AGSIW (Moderator)



The views represented herein are the author’s or speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of AGSIW, its staff, or its board of directors.

Support Us

Through its careful examination of the forces shaping the evolution of Gulf societies and the new generation of emerging leaders, AGSIW facilitates a richer understanding of the role the countries in this key geostrategic region can be expected to play in the 21st century.

Learn More