By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
February 8th, 2023
It was only last year, at this time, February 7th, 2022, when we presented the Horn of Africa States Whispers and represented it again on December 2nd, 2022. What has changed in the Horn of Africa States in this past year? The region remains at its dismal state, with the civil strives still taking its toll. The starvation and the call for drought and famine assistance by the international community continues. Many non-regionals earn their living in this process while the victims of the climate change and the civil strives in the region really receive little.
There were some political movements though. The Somali leadership changed hands in May 2022, while Ethiopia signed a peace treaty with one of its rebels on November 2nd, 2022. Millions in the region remained, though, exposed to both the civil strives, instability and the effects of droughts and famines during the year, although the region recovered a little from the exposure to the Covid-19 pandemic. Its economic performance, however, was seriously affected and economic growth was at best minimal.
Competition over the region as one of the main passageways of international trade among the great powers of the United States and China remained and to some extent the competition among the lesser states also remained almost constant, although the change of leadership in Somalia, may have edged the Saudi-Emirates-Egyptian axis forward a little, at least, more than its rival regional grouping of Turkey and Qatar.
The strategic location of the region and its being the source of the Blue Nile, the provider of most fresh water to Northeast Africa also remained a constant and hence the importance of the region to many parties other than the owners of the region. A new push by the East Africa Community to entice Somalia away from the Horn of Africa States through the appointment of a Somali special envoy to the EAC, the only one to that region on August 14th, 2022, also added to the region’s agonies.
It would seem the region is being pushed to make impossible choices and its leadership is almost stunned and unable to make any. Hence the only constant of the region is that it still remains traumatized, its populations displaced and migration out of it continues as people run away from seemingly endless wars, famines and droughts, political immaturity and the constant psychological attacks on the people and their characterization as people who cannot solve their problems, who must then, be pushed into taking decisions, that only makes their lives more difficult.
The Horn of Africa States remained a sad region, which is constantly reminded in the international press, of its woes and desperate situations and worse, it is not even regarded as a separate region but added as an appendix to other regional organizations such as some members of the East Africa Community such as Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan as what is now termed as the Greater Horn of Africa. It is clearly known that the Horn of Africa States is a separate region consisting of the countries in the natural formation of the region, the Horn. These are the SEED countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. The other countries which are usually addended to it have their own conditions and are not as economically deprived as the Horn of Africa region, which despite its rich natural wealth, remains still one of the poorest regions of the world. Only its location can add lots to its economic pie, but perhaps, that is, why the region is kept at a disarray.
The region is strategic and commands the Red Sea, the Bab El Mandab Straits, the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Sea (Northern Indian Ocean). It also commands the source of the Blue Nile and hence extremely important for the world and the Northeast region of Africa. It also currently owns the GERD, which would, in the years, to come be one of the main sources of energy in the region and the African continent. Despite some of its countries being labeled as failed states, the region enjoys traditional democracy unique to the region and a complex and diverse culture also unique to the region supported by an unequaled long historical background. Even the Ancient Egyptians claimed their forefathers as having come from the Horn of Africa States.
It is a dynamic region whose diaspora today play important roles in many major countries of the world and it is a region that can come together and create a solid foundation for its people, whence they realize how the region has been wronged by the undefined international community, which consists of a mix of foreign governments, multi-lateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, money-launderers hiding under these others, mercenaries and terrorists imported into the region, who brainwash and abuse the youth of the region.
The region owns its highlands, a major source of original food (teff, enset, coffee, wheat and barely and finger millet) that does not need to be imported and it has its lowlands and ports, along a 4,700 km coast, which can equally provide food in the form of fish and other agricultural output. The region owns a large animal population and does not need any meat imports from outside the region and therefore, it is a self-sufficient region, whence the leadership of the region wake up to the real call of the people. How is it possible to be starving?
The region should not whisper no more and its leadership, both the ruling parties and the opposition, should pronounce the foundation of an integrated region. It would not be an overnight development, but the process needs to start as soon as possible. The region should cooperate more and work on economic integration. Peace, development, and stability would be resultant products of such cooperation.
One final thought for the leadership of the region: “No one remains on earth forever. Let a good memory remain of you.” Basically you would not be in the seat of power forever. Do something good for the people, that would make them remember you, forever, in good stead. The choice is theirs!
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.