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Gulf rivalries are spilling into Africa’s Horn

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Foreign meddling is unsettling an already fragile region

The narrow waters separating the Arabian peninsula from the Horn of Africa have never served as much of a moat. Goods and people routinely cross. Iran and the United Arab Emirates (uae), in particular, are increasingly active in the Horn. Tensions between them rose after the uae established diplomatic ties with Israel last year, a move that Iran furiously condemned. A string of recent arrests shows how the rivalry between the two is adding volatility to an already unstable region.

In recent weeks Ethiopia arrested 15 people for allegedly plotting to attack the uae’s embassies in Ethiopia and Sudan. The authorities said that those arrested were working for a “foreign terrorist group”, but did not say which. Around the same time Sweden said it was holding two men, a Swede and an Eritrean, on suspicion of planning a terrorist offence in an unnamed foreign country. Western intelligence sources say the arrests were linked and Iran was behind the planned attacks

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