By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
December 24th, 2022
We are about to close the year and we look back at it, and the successes and failures of our experiences during those days and months we lived through and yet we then look at the coming rebirth, the coming of a new year and new period in our uncertain life spans and the expectations, and the hopes ahead. Every year has the same reflections and present themselves as new inflection points. We have presented many writings and essays on the Horn of Africa States during this past year and on reflecting back on those, we note the roses and thorns, the beautiful region and yet the painful one. We saw the vast expanses of its territories of plenty, but we also saw the miseries and starvation, and the wars and terrorism at play in the region. The grand egos of the politicians or pseudo-politicians, the big elephants in the room, was always there and present and only aggravated the lot of the region.
We saw the civil wars in the Ethiopian State deteriorate and then calm down and flare again and then calm down. We hope peace and stability would reign in the country. We also saw the war against terrorism or the terror war against the Somali State continue in full flare during the year. There is still no end to this in sight. Situations in the other two member states of Eritrea and Djibouti remain the same and the poverty and hard times still mark the lands.
It is the Horn of Africa States, the rich and the poor, the peaceful and the not-so peaceful, the hungry and the so-well-fed, all at the same time. It is the Horn of Africa States that was on the brink of starting a new friendship alliance among its constituents, but which now appears to be as far apart as they could be in the recent past. We saw the year bring forth the Egyptians knocking on the Somali gate after years of absence through the new leadership of the Somali State that came during this eventful year in the country and we saw also and as usual the Gulf States’ involvement in the region continuing, some being pushed out while others were being pushed in. We know the Qataris and entourage and the UAE and entourage and the impact of their rivalries on the Horn of Africa States. The Turks are still around in the Somali State, but their stand is shifty, with the Somali State still unsure of itself or where it wants to go.
During the year we saw the tarred relations between Somalia and Djibouti slowly being restored but the Eritrean and Djibouti relations remain frozen. Perhaps the only bright spot in the regions’ internal relations was the continuing good stand of Ethio-Eritrean diplomacy. We hope this continues for the good of the region. The East Africa Community and more particularly, the involvement of Kenya in disrupting a rebirth of the Somali State and hence the creation of discordance of relations between the Somalia and Ethiopia, continuing and with great subtlety.
We could not have expected everything to be going smoothly. It is not the way of nature. There is a reaction to every action, or so, do we not say? What world would we be in if there were no problems? The good of the year was in the main a reflection of the fact that there could be a Horn of Africa States region organized as one unit instead of the disparate unitary states each acting alone and on its own and lonely. There is the possibility of having an integrated Horn of Africa States region, united in many ways and fronts – in education, in health services and the fight against diseases and ill-health, united in the fight against locusts, droughts and famines and the resultant starvation and hunger, united in its general economic infrastructures and united in the face of the others beyond the region, with one voice.
Roses reflect emotion and, in fact, a beautiful expression of emotion but as beautiful as they are, roses also have thorns which reflect pain. The Horn of Africa States represent a beautiful rose, but which carries its own thorns, its civil wars, droughts and famines, and outside interferences, and for the region’s further development, it should accept all its weaknesses and pains. It is the only way forward for the bumpy road of life in general. The Horn of Africa States region which owns such vast lands and seas and mountains and plains, and differing climes represent many an opportunity for the growing young population of the region. It is time the leaders of the region reflected on the matter, embarked on the project, and put in place by, at least, putting their heads together, even if they cannot achieve anything. It would be something future leaders could lean upon.