Superpower Cooperation in North Africa and the Horn

  • I. William Zartman


There is no better example of the contrasts of competition in Soviet-American relations than the evolving situations in the two northern corners of Africa. Northwest Africa, or the Maghrib, is a region of enough importance to both the United States and the USSR for the states of the region to balance their relations successfully with both superpowers so as to keep them interested suitors but never fully engaged. There is little prospect for change in this pattern as the world moves toward greater cooperation, and yet it can serve as a good example for other regions which have not yet arrived at this state of cooperation. Northeast Africa, or the Horn, is a region of greater importance to the superpowers, who have divided it into clients, if not satellites. However, despite their deep engagement, the superpowers actually changed partners with relative ease in the 1970s, as the region was engrossed in its own turmoil. Yet the superpowers were only scrambling to hang on; it was the regional states that made their own shifts, for reasons of domestic and intra-regional politics. Because of these characteristics, there are more lessons for change and cooperation in the Horn than in the Maghrib, although of course no assurance that they will be learned or applied.


Foreign Policy Middle East Vital Interest Naval Base Soviet Position 
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Copyright information

© Roger E. Kanet and Edward A. Kolodziej 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. William Zartman

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