The Horn of Africa and Geopolitics: Terrorism as a Transnational Security Concern

Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


Osamah F. Khalil


Geopolitics, Imaginative Geographies, Pan Africanism, Terrorism, The Horn of Africa, Transnational Security

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study explores the Horn of Africa as an ideational construct whose indeterminate and shifting boundaries have reflected the interests of the colonial powers. The central objective of this thesis is to deconstruct the notion of the “Horn of Africa.” It examines the colonial, Cold War, and post–9/11 periods to demonstrate that Euro–American foreign policies were reproduced in the creation of the region, its alternating boundaries, and how it has been characterized by policymakers and scholars. Drawing on a range of primary sources as well as interviews it focuses on Ethiopia and Somalia to demonstrate that U.S. foreign policy has played a dominant role in constructing and reifying the Horn while continuing to destabilize the region. Through the lens of Pan Africanism, this study also examines regional instability by reviewing decolonization in Somalia, which it contends are fundamentally flawed. Finally, it argues that conflict resolution approaches and mechanisms in post–colonial Africa are hindered by the increased diversion from understanding of conflicts in terms of political violence to terrorism and the promotion of counterterrorism strategies at the expense of diplomatic solutions.


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