Conflict dynamics in a three-level game: local, national, and international conflict in the horn of Africa

Conflict dynamics in a three-level game: local, national, and international conflict in the horn of Africa

What aspects of state formation and international structure can explain conflict in the Horn of Africa?

This paper begins with an introduction of a synthesis and analysis of the complex patterns of international wars and internal conflicts in the Horn of Africa over the past four decades. The paper then discusses the relevant aspects of state formation and international structure that can jointly explain these patterns.

Three separate levels of conflict dynamics are addressed:

  • local conflicts among identity groups
  • conflicts among contenders for national power
  • international wars between national governments

The article finds that:

  • similar dynamic patterns occur in each level
  • these conflicts are linked through resource exchanges between organizations operating at different levels
  • the ready availability of coercion-relevant resources undercuts actors’ incentives to seek more creative solutions to their conflicts, thus fuelling continued conflict at all three levels

The article indicates that an understanding of conflict dynamics in the Horn of Africa requires a synthesis of:

  • level-specific action-reaction processes of conflict escalation and limitation
  • a sharply restrained process of state-building, involving relatively few groups
  • a patchwork systemic structure inducing support for neighboring rebel groups
  • multiple donors willing to supply modest but adequate levels of arms and aid

[author]

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