The Horn of Africa is of strategic importance and vitality of the Arab world, given its geostrategic link between East Africa and the Mediterranean Basin, and because of its access to the headwaters of the Nile; over the centuries, it has played the role of being the Arabs' gateway to East and Central Africa. Yet the rigidity and paralysis of the old Arab regimes led to a situation where this region plays no role in the geopolitical give-and-take of Arab thinking and policy-making, for a period of 30 years.
With the wave of change represented by the Arab Spring, the time was ripe to examine closely a relationship which had previously been neglected and marginalized in Arab policy-making for previous decades. With this in mind, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies organized a three-day academic conference, from the 27 through the 29 November, 2011, under the title:
The Arabs and the Horn of Africa: the Dialectic of Regional Proximity and Affiliation.
Conference participants addressed the majority of issues which affect the nature of the Arab countries' relations with the Horn of Africa and the Nile Basin, divided as they are into five major themes:
the historical; political and economic; security and strategic; intellectual, cultural and social; and media.
The conference aimed to examine closely the relationship born of this regional proximity, to help explore future prospects for the relationship between both sides and to learn from the mistakes of the past, which have allowed both the Israeli occupiers and the West to gain a foothold in this important region, without any Arab influence being exerted there.
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