By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
March 6th, 2023
Would the wars in the Horn of Africa States ever end? And how would they end? And who are the real protagonists in these wars? Who suffers most in these wars? These are all important questions one should ask oneself, especially in the light of the meaningless wars that continue to mar life and lovies in that part of the world, which did not see a day of peace over the past half a century or even more. Wars, indeed, are explained as institutionalized processes where humans destroy each other. It can be between families and between two or three states and even among multiple states. In the world of today, we know there is Ukraine war between Russia and Ukraine, now going on over a year. There is also the Myanmar internal wars that have been going on over the past eighty years, and there is the Afghan wars which never truly stopped again for over a half a century and there is also the continuing Syrian wars and the Iraq wars that are still burning underneath the ashes and, of course, there is the DR Congo wars from its independence day to the present, and the list continues.
The Horn of Africa States is one of those regions where perennial wars remain a feature and its leadership both the ruling parties and those in opposition were and are unable to do anything about them. The wars in the Horn of Africa States takes on many different dimensions and shades ranging from pseudo-religious wars to tribal/clan wars and political quarrels among the so-called politicians of the region, who mostly have no agendas other than opposing others.
The real tragedy of the wars in the Horn of Africa States is that they are not truly wars of the region but proxy wars carried out by sons of the region on behalf of “others” usually bigger states, killing the region’s poor population. They use small distributed/dispersed groups that appear to have noting to do with each other to destroy the nations of the region. A clear example is what happened to Somalia or what they attempted to do in Ethiopia recently and the many attempts to create wars and clashes between Eritrea and Djibouti and still more. It appears as if some parties are determined to ensure that there is to be no peace in the region. it would appear some parties are determined to keep the region disturbed. And what do they want from the region?
One of the most important features of the region is its geostrategic location, which most major powers of the world would not like to see it in the side of their perceived competitors. Others see the location as a future competition to their port infrastructures as it sits in the right path of shipping, hence reducing travel and cargo costs and all the related paraphernalia of ports.
There is also the much talked about potentiality of the region as a possible major oil and gas producer in the future. Here there are those who do not want a competitive region coming into the market and there are those who would like to see the region so weakened so that they can impose their own conditions on the region for exploiting the natural riches of the region. They forget that this is a region which would rather die than see their assets stolen. A reasonable contract would have been better, but how does one convince someone who thinks they are in a position of power and that they can dictate terms? This is a region which owns time-honored dignity and they do not give in easy.
There is also the Blue Nile, the source of most fresh water to Northeast Africa. Exploitation of the waters of the river by the region remains a disturbance to others and hence remains one of the causes of continued travails in the region. The region also owns the climate, the weather, the land and all the features that allow for successful agricultural and food production. Note it was one if not the first location of human inhabitancy on earth. It domesticated many plants and animals for food. There is the teff, and there is the enset and there is also the camel, to pick up a few. Many countries who produce and trade in food do not like what the region offers and hence disturb agricultural production through the continuing proxy wars in the region, so that they provide food themselves through aid and the armies of NGOs that have played havoc in the region over the past fifty years. They salivate when they see any renewed disturbance in the region.
Would then there ever be an end to the wars in the Horn of Africa States? There would be, for one does not lose hope. However, what is necessary for this to happen is the region’s leadership and its preparedness to help in the process. They do not have the ultimate magical key to turn off conflicts engineered from outside, but they can prepare themselves first by working together and consulting each other on how to address matters that sometimes touch on the spirituality of the region and/or the ethnicity of the region. These are matters continually exploited by the outsider interfering nations.
Laying down a groundwork for fairness and justice in the region is the one of the key elements required to end these endless wars where people continually feel they are being wronged. By constituting a system of laws where everybody is equal should be the key. It cannot be tribal or clannish for this is a recipe for disaster. They do not have to invent anything. All they need to do is look around and adopt laws that are fair and just and designed for this Horn of Africa States own historical background.
Another key element in the process of ending wars in the region is also the a shared view of the destiny of the region of its leaders. They must utterly understand/overstand that the region has one common destiny. There would be no beauty if the neighbor is in an ugly situation. They must develop together how they would like to see the region in ten years, twenty years and/or thirty years and more. It is one the states of the region stand on the same plain that they would be able to mange better the region’s future destiny, at least, as they see it.