In early May, when Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki visited Sudan, the official objective of the trip was to strengthen bilateral ties within a regional framework. The visit nevertheless raised eyebrows. It came on the heels of Eritrea’s military participation in Ethiopia’s civil war in Tigray region, and also at a time of rising tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and a border dispute involving areas near Tigray, among other issues. Unofficially, local observers have suggested that Eritrea may seek a role in mediating between Ethiopia and Sudan.

Whatever the actual purpose of Isaias’ visit, it highlighted the degree to which, in the past three years, Eritrea has gone from being an international pariah state to an increasingly visible and influential regional powerbroker in the Horn of Africa. Beginning in 2018, with its normalization of diplomatic relations with Ethiopia…

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