The Horn Of Africa States: The Least Integrated And Most Unstable Region In Africa – OpEd


The Horn of Africa States region is an enigma. It is a region inhabited by a people of close ethnic origins – the Cushitic peoples. It is a region with similar cultural values and a long history of co-habitation in the same environment. It is situated at one of the most geostrategic locations on earth. Indeed, it is the roof of Africa and gave coffee, teff, and enset to the world, and tamed the camel and the donkey – the Somali ass. It represents one of the most ancient peoples of the world who have moved on and populated many other regions of the globe.

The region can grow its own foods in its vast agricultural lands and can raise millions of livestock including sheep, goats, camels and cattle. It has millions of chicken and a long coast which can produce millions of tons of fish annually. It is, indeed, a rich region, but which is poor at the same time where many of its people die of hunger every day. The world calls for its assistance almost daily but its people, unfortunately, appear to be living in a different plain of a different world. They are the most conflicted people on earth and produce the most satanic of leaders who cannot tell when to start or stop a war. They use their own peoples as fodder for fire and are continuously involved in wars among themselves or their peoples.

Frankly, the so-called leaders of the region are involved in massacres and are, indeed, killing machines of their own people. How do they find this shamelessness to start new conflicts all the time? They are what one could only describe as political gangsterism. They have not been able to develop administrative institutions and the rule of law in the region and every so often, one new so-called leader pops up and ruins everything the one before him did in the name of a tribe, clan or group complaining of the abuse of power committed against his or her people by the previous leader and forgetting the abuse the new group is doing onto others not of their tribe or clan. It is a region of indescribable cruelty.

The region set up an organization to address its climatic and environmental problems in 1986, which was then named the Intergovernmental Authority for Droughts and Desertification (IGADD). At the time, the concept was to find ways to address natural catastrophes. The leaders of those days did not see that the catastrophes were mostly man-made and had little to do with nature, although there were few natural disasters. The organization was changed again in 1996 to become the current Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). The current organization’s mission states that it will “promote regional cooperation and integration to add value to member states’ efforts in achieving peace, security and prosperity.”

Unfortunately IGAD has not achieved any of the aforenoted. It is the least integrated region of Africa. On the contrary it only added to the conflicts and troubles of the region. IGAD does not discuss Ethiopia’s continuous  internal wars. It did not discuss the Tigray war which killed millions and keeps millions hungrier and  more destitute. It does not discuss the Amhara war which is reported to be killing hundreds of thousands more since it started earnestly about a year ago. It does not discuss the Oromia War which was going on for much longer period than either the Tigray or Amhara wars. Ethiopia is currently like the killing fields of Cambodia some decades ago!

But the region’s stresses are only getting worse by the day. The populations, despite these multitudes of abnormal deaths, are still growing, while the poverty in the region is also exponentially growing. Agriculture is dying in the region as people are unable to grow their own foods as a result of the conflicts and wars apparently enjoyed by the leaders of the region. They all pretend to be like the heroes of western cowboy movies! They would shoot this and that and those as if the entire population of the region are crooks and criminals. They are, indeed, the criminals who have usurped powers through dubious means with the financial assistance of well-known foreigners. Many point fingers at the United Arab Emirates and others. May be it is time the world investigated why the UAE and others are pouring so much wealth into the pockets of a few disastrous leaders in the Horn of Africa.

The region’s environmental stresses are also deteriorating as damages to the land, waters, rivers and lakes and the seas of the region worsen through the activities of a multitude of actors including mercenaries, soldiers of the region using tons of ammunitions and pirates in the seas and oil spillages and the destruction of the foliage and forests of the region. Many parts are, indeed, becoming deserts and inhabitable.

The region’s economic stresses resulting from the instabilities of the region are getting worse, widening the gaps between the rich and poor of the region. Inflation is being imported into the region almost on a daily basis as people are unable to produce anything locally. They must import everything they consume –  food, clothes, building materials, and other consumables both for households and beyond.

The region’s leaders transgress on human decency almost every day in the region and many blame just the “Region”. What is the region? It is not the people for they suffer more than any other group of people on earth. It can only be the leaders of the region, who not only take advantage of their people but also the others who still keep supplying them with all the means to destroy the region and its people. Unfortunately the latest technologies are also helping the leaders of the region to carry out mass murders without being noticed. It is amazing how so few can cause so much damage in such a vast region of some 2 million sq. km and a population now nearing some one hundred and sixty million!

And they still use IGAD, a failed organization that did not succeed in any of the mediations the international community entrusted with it. It is ironic that even the United Nations Security Council seems to have instructed the AU and IGAD to address the Somalia-Ethiopia conflict! Does the UNSC want to avoid taking its responsibility of stopping a transgressor? 

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *