External power competition in the Horn of Africa is intensifying. Somaliland is navigating a contested regional environment in its quest for international recognition and development.

By Aleksi Ylönen

External power competition in the Horn of Africa is intensifying. In recent years, the US and China, as well as regionally powerful states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, and Qatar, have all deepened their involvement in the sub-region.

This has opened new opportunities for state and non-state actors in the Horn to gain influence through financial and material resources by associating themselves with external powers.


Somaliland is one such actor. In the current scenario, Hargeisa’s increasingly sophisticated foreign policy has enabled it to step up its quest for international recognition and development.

In this article, Aleksi Ylönen discusses the increasing contestation of influence among external powers in the Horn of Africa and Somaliland’s position in this changing regional context.

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External Power Competition In The Horn Of Africa Somaliland Quest For International Recognition And Development

About Aleksi Ylönen

Associate Fellow, Politics and International Affairs, Horn of Africa Specialist

Aleksi YlönenAleksi Ylönen is a Research Fellow at the Centre for International Studies (CEI), Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (Iscte-IUL). Originally from Finland, and trained as a historian, and as a peace and conflict and international relations scholar, he conducts research on the greater Horn of Africa and has taught in various higher education institutions in Europe and Africa. He has authored and edited many scholarly publications on political history, international relations, peace, conflict, and development issues in the sub-region. This article benefited from the support of the Centre français des études éthiopiennes (CFEE).


Dr. Aleksi Ylönen holds a Doctorate in International Relations and African Studies (Summa cum Laude) from the Autonomous University of Madrid (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Spain; an International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies from UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace, Jaume I University (Universitat Jaume I), Castellón (Spain); and Bachelor of Arts in History with Minor in Economics (Highly Distinguished) from the College of Charleston (USA).

He has conducted research and taught Politics and International Relations extensively in Europe and Africa. Dr. Aleksi Ylönen has collaborated with various higher education and research institutions, including University Institute of Lisbon (Portugal), Jaume I University (Spain), European University of Valencia (Spain), University of Valencia (Spain), University of Hargeisa, United States International University – Africa (Kenya), Marmara University (Turkey), University of Turku (Finland), Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (Germany), University of Frankfurt (Germany), University of Bayreuth (Germany), and the School of Oriental and African Studies (the UK).

Dr. Aleksi Ylönen specializes in Politics and International Affairs in the greater Horn of Africa. His work has been published in various scholarly and non-academic outlets. Among Dr. Ylönen’s salient publications are The Horn of Africa since the 1960s (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017), edited with Dr. Jan Záhořík; On state, marginalization, and origins of rebellion (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2016); and various scholarly articles in respected Politics and International Relations, Political History, and Area Studies journals. Dr. Aleksi Ylönen engages in frequent expert commentary for research institutions and conventional and online media.

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