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The Horn of Africa States Complementarity and Cooperation

February 17, 2023

By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
February 16th, 2023

The Horn of Africa States is a region that straddles the West side the great sea lane stretching from the South of the Red Sea through Bab El Mandab, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Sea and into the Indian Ocean. Its importance for the world was always a necessity since times immemorable for it provided the corridor for humankind to move away from Africa to the rest of the world. But lately, its importance draws from two major assets of the region.

The first is related to the Suez Canal, which when it was opened back in 1869, changed global commerce in ways that was never done since the discovery of the Americas by Europeans in the fifteenth century. The passageway reduced travel from India to Europe by about 40% and fares and transportation costs by about the same percentage. But it caused headaches for the Horn of Africa, for the opening up of the Suez Canal brought in Europe’s competing powers to the region and each claimed a part of the region, bringing new flags to segregate the region from each other. It is how the countries of the region today in the form of the SEED countries, were created. SEED is an acronym for Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Each enjoys and is enormously proud of a flag over which they fought for the most part of their existence and which, therefore, stunted development of the region.

If the wars and struggles stayed only between the SEED countries, they could have been handled but forces beyond the region have instigated conflicts based on superiority of clans within each state and conflicts spread throughout the region based on clans and sub-clans, which has not only destroyed the fabric of the region, but stands in the way to further development, for non of the SEED countries is safe from itself. It is how they were designed in the first place because of the need for global commerce to pass through without the intervention of any of the SEED countries. Each government of the region is directly controlled by forces unknown and acts individually and the regional states never address their common problems collectively.

The second asset is the waters of the Blue Nile, which provides most water to Northeast Africa and the colonial power of the time made agreements with itself (Anglo-Egyptian-Sudan) treaties, whereby it allowed itself the total waters of the Nile without leaving any chance for the source regions of the waters to use the waters for their development as well. And when the United Kingdom left, the Egyptian and Sudanese governments inherited the assets of that great empire which died away almost to extinction in the past decades. Most of its powers were inherited by the United States of America, which now is now the great superpower, which competes with the powers that arose from the East in the names of China and Russia, now the rising India.

As a result, the Nile waters from the Horn of Africa States, poses another critical asset over which other nations beyond the region compete. We all know the story of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (the GERD) and the headaches it is causing for the region. The region cannot and should not exploit it to provide energy to the citizens of the region and financing the project was denied by the international finance, they claimed. It had, therefore, to be financed internally from local sources of the region, and it is going well despite all the obstacles placed in its path.

The region, therefore, faces multi-challenges in addition to natural calamities, although, most calamities are due to man-made problems, including the climate change and the best way to address these matters would be collaboration of the states of the region. They compliment each other and therefore should cooperate with each other.

In the early sixties and seventies, the region had lofty objectives of development and stability and in the case of the Somali, collection of all Somalis under one flag, the Blue white starred flag and in one country. This has caused miseries in the region and wars both within and without Somalia. Ethiopia was not saved from the troubles, either for it was one of the main targets of Somalia’s warring goals. Eritrea, which was absorbed by Ethiopia in the fifties had to go into a long war to extract itself from Ethiopia and so the wars, were mostly engineered from the powers that were, at the time.

However, things have moved, and the populations have come to know each other better and find that they share more than they differ and hence country wars have reached a dead end. The four countries of the region have learned, and this is good, that they can live with each other, work together and develop together. But other forces have come to play havoc in each of the countries and this emanates from the small minds of the region – the tribalistic/animalistic instinct in the social fabric of the society, where some find themselves superior over others and believe that they only could rule or  and some those even want to walk away from the whole and live as secluded clans in smaller enclaves. It is a bad picture and difficult but can be addressed through cooperation and collective management.

The region stands a better chance, indeed, through cooperation and collaboration with each other to face the enemies from within and from without. It is, in this respect, that we continue to propose the creation of a new roadmap for the region, which articulates a viable vision that would steer away the region from the muddy waters of clannism. The poor clansman who is hungry and sick and ignorant cannot be better than the other poor hungry and sick and equally ignorant clansman. If a clan was better than another one, it would have been obvious, and they would have been in the Guinness Book of records or in the superior annals of history or in the vanguard nations of the world today. None of them is and the whole region, counts as one of the poorest in the world which always stretches its hands begging the others.

We know that the international community has deployed misguided policies in the region, and these have been compounded by the region’s own ethno-centric conflagrations, corruption and other dysfunctional forces such as religious extremism and terrorism. This can only be addressed by a collective determination to face these evils off and the complementarity of the Horn of Africa States and their cooperation is the only way to pull out the region from its miseries.

Dr. Suleiman Ahmed Walhad- President The Horn of Africa States

An independent global policy and research think tank institute, which aims to promote and create an integrated Horn of Africa States consisting of its four members of the SEED countries, an acronym for Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, through cutting edge engagement with universities,, public and private enterprises, civil societies, governments and institutes and providing constructive platforms, literature and presentations to persuade the people of the Horn of Africa States towards the path of lasting peace and prosperity and unity in diversity.\




The Horn of Africa States The People

By Dr. Suleiman Walhad

February 18th, 2023

The Horn of Africa States community is a community of people and as a region should be based on pillars which are all aimed at improving the lives of the people in the region. The pillars would include economic development, social and cultural progress, peace and security, and collaboration and mutual assistance of each other in issues that matter to the region, including but not limited to addressing climate change and hence the droughts and famines, relations with international organizations and other regions and nations beyond the Horn of Africa States.

In the previous writings on the matter, we concentrated on the leadership both the ruling parties and the opposition and their tribal/clan discords, which only enable those who do not have the best interest of the region at heart. In this short article, we would concentrate on the people. People relations leave usually lifelong impacts on populations, and this would help trailblaze the region’s journey to an organized regional community.

Life usually, in any society, revolves around the comfort zone of people and the people of the Horn of Africa States are not different. The populations of each of the states of the region find their comfort zones only within the national territories of the region and do not venture out to the neighboring countries, although the antagonisms of the previous regimes of the countries of the region are no longer in the picture. We know that there are Ethiopian and Djiboutian armies in Somalia and Somali army is trained in Eritrea, and these are matters that at one time could not have been possible, when the old enmities were in place.

The fact there is Ethiopian and Djiboutian armies in Somalia is no longer seen as invading armies. They came to help Somalia in its hour of need, but the fact they are there is by itself a record breaker. But this has not been followed by people movement, except those who come out of migration of their original homes, and in the process of moving out of the region. Should there be Ethiopia tourists to Somalia, perhaps to the more peaceful parts such as Somaliland and should there be Somali tourists going to Ethiopia and Djibouti? And this goes for each of the populations of the region. The region, we know suffers from regular and repetitive famines and droughts. Why should not there be youth volunteers from one country to another to help?  School exchanges, at all levels, should also be encouraged where students can learn anywhere provided, they are able to manage their lives.

Economic integration ca also be assisted by businesses from various states of the region, doing business with each other, and helping in opening new markets for each other, in each other’s countries. It is how one can take advantage of the large market of the region. The governments can only facilitate but actual business should be among the businesses of the states.

Culturally and socially, the region enjoys a population of the same ethnic stock, in general, although languages may differ. There is, therefore, no reason why cultural cooperation among the populations of the region, should not be on the fore front in the relations among the four SEED states of the region? It is how peace and security can be stabilized in the region, and how mutual assistance among the people of the region can be encouraged.

1 Comment

  1. Okay everyone, please allow me to dream a dream that suddenly the four nations in the Horn of Africa have decided to unite in a confederation. Please allow me. Then if and when should be the president with executive authority I would stand at the top of the highest peak in that region with an earth shaking megaphone to ask who should be that person. I will blare you to deafness with ‘Dr. Suleiman Walhad or Bust!’ I will do that for 24 hours until you relent!!! That is what I dream, believe and unapologetically will tell you and there is nothing you can do about it!!!
    Brother, keep plugging away!!!

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