By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
January 29th, 2023
Sometimes we need to ask ourselves what role would the Horn of Africa States play in this twenty first century, when the countries of the region have been growing away from each other over the past hundred and fifty years?
Obviously, there is no easy answer to the question and there are always the pessimists or fake nationalists who would point to the complicated nature of putting back the region together or even discuss sinister motives like one country would be taking over another, based on past unchallenged assertions made by pseudo politicians who were taking the poor people of the region for a ride.
We are all fully aware of the struggle of minorities within larger groups, the bigger clan and the small clan or just simply clan against clan, tribe against tribe and then a country against another and conflicts related to groups attempting to secede from sovereign states or just simply fear, fear that a group or country would swallow another.
We can, however, look into the matter from a different angle and perhaps be optimistic, as some of my friends remind me from time to time of “my too much of optimism”. Why can we not look into the situation from the point of view of unity in diversity? Too much of negativity has led the region to the current situation, where each country is splintering apart and where there is no trust among the four constituent Horn African States countries or even within each country, where mistrust of the politician has become the norm.
It is good time, we believe, that the formal leaders of the four states sat down together, at least, informally to address the possibilities. The region cannot be without possibilities. It is the nature of things. The leaders should transform the challenges to opportunities. That is, what great men who leave legacies do and have done throughout history. Osman Ertugrul, President Abraham Lincoln, Peter the Great, Queen Elizabeth I, General De Gaulle, President Roosevelt, Bismarck and others, all left their marks and created states and empires that still live today.
Maintaining good relations among the leaders is a necessity to create better relations among people and countries and if the leaders walk away from each other, they ultimately end up at each other’s throats and that is not what the region requires today. The Horn of Africa States needs to settle down, feed the goodness and not the evils within humankind.
No one can undo the past. It is already gone. However, one can shape the future and this is where the leaders of the region should concentrate and, at least, respect each other and have confidence in each other. This is how the governments and the governed populations would relate to each other, and perhaps deal with each other. It is how good times could be created both for themselves and the populations.
The leaders should be looking at the common Horn African States heritage and ways of co-operating to create a conflict free and integrated region that is beneficial to all the constituent countries and their populations.
The populations are looking up to their leaders and expect from them a Horn African States vision for, at least, the coming years, maybe the next ten years or twenty or thirty. What should the region be like and how do they expect it to be. A leader cannot just be leaving everything to fate and there must be, at least, a goal to achieve. It is how nations whether singly or as groups manage their destinies. We expect Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President Ismail Omar Guelleh, President Isais Afeworki, and President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud to present to the region and the world how they see their region into the future and different, at least, from the desperate region it presents itself today.