The Horn Of Africa States – OpEd


Four years and three months and twenty-seven days after February 8th, 2017, the Somali political players sign a new modus operandi for the elections of the federal institutions – the federal parliament, the senate and the president. And as usual between twenty and thirty candidates will run for the presidential post, while hundreds will run for the bicameral legislative organs. Despite the many structural weaknesses of the Somali state, it appears, Somalia is slowly recovering and set on the path of regaining its lost image of a strong unified nation. May 27th, 2021 must have been a sad day for those who have ill will for the Somali nation.

The fractured governing system of the country is being reshaped through a federal structure unknown to the Somali psyche and this new system will take time to take root in the country, although many Somalis abhor it, while others abuse it for their own ends, be it personal, clannish or outright servitude to foreigners. The main weakness of the federal system is the fact that it is used by foreigners in the form of international organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union through AMISOM, the European Union, the United States, and indeed by international terrorists such as Al Shabaab, which is connected to Al Qaeda, who take advantage of it by using one faction against another or a faction(s) against the whole.

Many countries who have vested interests in the Somali Peninsula have also used the raw and undigested federal system to enforce their will on some of the federal member states to ignore or disobey the Somali Federal government.  The ties between these federal member states and their foreign benefactors have been a pain in the Somali re-emergence from the Teeh or absence in the political wilderness, often referred to as the “Failed State”.

The current administration which is in its final days has struggled against the federal system, but they adopted a wrong strategy of twisting the arms of the federal member states. Some easily succumbed to the force of the federal government while others resisted, and this led to the electoral impasse, which ended through the May 27th, 2021, agreement signed in the Headquarters of the Somali Airforce in Mogadishu, often known as “Aviazone”. The Administration should have adopted the federal member states instead of antagonizing them.

A new block appeared on the scene in the Horn of Africa during the past four years and that is the Ethiopian-Eritrean-Somalia Alliance (“EESA”), often referred to as the “Cushitic Alliance” (“CA”), in reference to the historical Cushitic State from which they all descended. The three countries have been the source of most of the problems of the region and hence the subsequent and ongoing upheavals be they social and economic or political. Only two states would seem to be missing from the CA, namely Sudan and Djibouti, which would complete the homelands of the Cushites (Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia). This new alliance is bound to impact the political and economic landscape of the Horn of Africa.

Resistance to the emergence of EESA has manifested itself through the political maneuvers of Kenya, Djibouti, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom have political and economic interests in the region. As is usual, blaming the leaders and separating them from their populations has started and we note that the good kid in the block who was only recently awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is being labeled as the butcher of Tigray now, while Farmajo is being labeled as a dictator although he was around for only four years, while Muzeveni or Kagama or Paul Biya of Africa remain in power and would remain so for indefinite periods. Each one of them has stayed in power for over a quarter of a century and they are received on red carpets!

The culprits hide behind international organizations, although it is quite well known to readers of international politics that the foxes among the sheep are mercenaries using not only their governments but also every means available to them to exploit the wretched of the earth, the poorer countries, as most of Africa represents. It is generally known that a broken Horn of Africa, as was the case over the past three decades, is more profitable than a stable, thriving, peaceful one.

Because of its population (over 200 million), which represent a sizeable market, its strategic location as it straddles one of the main sea lanes of international maritime trade, its huge agro-mineral resources and its potentially huge blue economy, the region attracts many non-regional powers be they from the west or the east. The emerging east as represented by China and the Russian Federation would seem to be pushing in to share in the exploits of the hundred-year-old western hegemony of the region. The west generally represented through the United States, the UK, France and Italy are not pleased; and the local populations of the region suffer under the maneuverings of these two blocks.

It is again on the onus of the leaders of the region to be wary and cautious of non-regional conflicts that could spill over into the region. Building co-operation with both camps without unduly giving favors to one as opposed to the other must be developed. They would need to manage the situation such that they create a win-win-win contract, representing a balanced East, West and Local parlay in the region.

Collective bargaining is the key, and the region should work together instead of working against each other, where those who do not have the interest of the region at heart can deploy their malevolence with ease. Collective bargaining is generally used by the European Union, and it has proved to be a successful tool. Why shouldn’t the Horn of Africa be able to work together through building the proper organs for such common needs? The EESA or the CA would be such organs to develop. Somalis say, “camel herders work together, while at the same time each works for the betterment of one’s own camels”, i.e. They work together and especially in hard times, but at the same time each tends to his own camels. The regional countries can work together while each country still works towards the development of its own, without undermining the others. 

There are many factors that would truly threaten such organs to emerge, and these could be historical antagonisms, religious or even languages, but it takes wise men and women to manage the structural weaknesses that exist within the region. One often compares the benefits of such organs to the disadvantages and surely, it is clear as the sun in the sky that working together is more beneficial for the regional populace as opposed to each country working on its own. Let us welcome the “Horn of Africa States”, which we hope to emerge in the years ahead.

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

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

One thought on “The Horn Of Africa States – OpEd

  • June 14, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Great article and really beautiful writing


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