What explains variations in how African countries respond to security threats? How can we explain situations in which countries face a similar regional threat environment and yet respond very differently? In this article we take advantage of a natural experiment offered by instability in Somalia, which has given rise to terrorist threats to neighbours Ethiopia and Kenya. Analysing Ethiopian and Kenyan responses to instability coming from Somalia since 2000 shows that these countries differ in both the nature and timing of their responses to a common set of Somali challenges. The key to understanding their varied responses, we argue, lies not in the objective threat itself, but in how the threat affects the political calculations of the state. These calculations are shaped by fundamental political and economic dynamics such as the presence or absence of a founding myth, the ways that elites access and maintain their hold on power, and the political economy underpinning the state.
Click here to view the article.