The Horn Of Africa States: Another War From The Nobel Peace Laureate – OpEd


The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has been in power for now nearly five years. Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, was awarded a Nobel Peace prize in 2019 and now after carrying out so many wars in his country, he is now moving on to the neighbors and more particularly Somalia, a country plagued by its own idiosyncrasies and its own political folies.

This time it is coming from the false belief of most Ethiopians, that a big country like theirs must have an outlet to a sea, a false narrative that has been repeated for over a century and a half, starting with Ras Alula of Abyssinia in the 19th century, who claimed that the natural boundary of Abyssinia then was the Red Sea. Abyssinia adopted the name Ethiopia, which means ‘black’ in Greek only in 1932. The Nobel laureate, like many of his countrymen but not all of them, believes that Ethiopia must have a port by any means whether this is to be achieved through peaceful means or through war.

The idea was originally seen as a way of appeasing the population of his country, which are turning against him, but Abiy Ahmed seems to be adamant. He proceeded to signing an MOU in this respect with a breakaway region of another country, Somalia and not only a country but one with which Ethiopia has a long history of conflict, always about land and territories. It is not a gambit after all. But this fails to appeal to the majority of Ethiopians, including his own Oromos, the Amhara, the Tigrayans, the Southern Nations, the Afar, the Sidamans, and indeed, the Somalis. 

The Prime Minister who seems to be obsessed with his legacy and superstitiously believes that he would be the seventh Emperor of Ethiopia, sees acquiring a port as his path to that legacy. Unfortunately, he has only helped galvanize the Somali population, a strong sixty million, present even in his own power corridors, who fight back and fiercely. Many other Ethiopians believe that this megalomaniacal journey may lead to the collapse of the Ethiopian state, which may break down into its eighty component nationalities or at least some of the major ones may break away to form their own states. These include the Amhara, the Tigray, the Somali, the Afar, and indeed, the Oromo.

Ethiopia whose foreign policy was marked by defense against a possible invasion by Somalia for always is now on the attack. This is certainly a great ambition that has its own perils. The foreign policy of the country appears to have lost its way and the country’s top leadership seems to be hostages for the megalomaniacal policies of its Prime Minister, which makes the country’s foreign policy confused. The world was, indeed, perplexed by the sudden turn of events in the Horn of Africa at the hands of the Nobel Laureate Prime Minister and they have mostly come to the aid and support of Somalia. There must be those who are, behind the scenes, supporting this madness for their own interests and this should include some tiny West Asian country, which has been providing arms and weapons to Ethiopia and even financing the construction of a lavish palace for the future ‘emperor’ under the clear view of the poor and hungry population of Ethiopia, the 120 million he boasts of, a country which defaulted on a US$ 33 million tranche of its World Bank/IMF debt.

Why would a future ‘emperor’ only dream of being a client state of a tiny little emirate in West Asia? Which emperor in history has been a client of another state? It beats the mind and any logic. Somalia, of course, and also the other neighbors in the Horn of Africa are perplexed at the moves of Abiy Ahmed, who seems to have lost his radar. The country has been at war over the past three years and has only survived through the propping up of that West Asian Emirate, which bought for him many drones. 

The Oromo Liberation Army has never stopped fighting for the independence of Oromia from Ethiopia and continues to weaken the army. The country went into an existential war over Tigray only to be helped by Eritrea with which the Prime Minister is not currently on good terms, and he has also entered into war with its own Amhara State. Millions of people have perished in these wars, and millions more were maimed and wounded or put out of commission, but the Prime Minister seems not to mind as long as he works for his legacy – the future paper emperor of a much-truncated Ethiopia, probably, when the dust settles down.

The Somali war, the fourth of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, appears to be coming, unless some miracle gets in the way, and it is where the Prime Minister will stumble and fall, and Ethiopia will start to crumble. Why can’t he just stop this madness or is Abiy Ahmed under the control and direction of that West Asian Emirate, which does not like Ethiopians (blacks) anyway?

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: Another War From The Nobel Peace Laureate – OpEd

  • January 17, 2024 at 4:26 pm

    With all his respect, the writer is far from reality and grounding its analysis on the clan ideology that relegated Somalia to be a failed state. Historically, in the light of international law, Somaliland was a colonial creation, had its independence on June 26, 1960, and formed a sound and good governance in Horn of Africa. Territoriality as the basis of power and authority is often seen as one of the basic measures of statehood. The failed state of Somalia that UN is been paying its salary, had sold its main port, airport, and hospital to Turkey , is guarded by the ATMIS security forces including 4 thousands Ethiopian soldiers that is dreaming to control free country of Somaliland.
    Moreover, In the Horn of Africa, we find that there are deep connections between territory and political identities. This means that states strongly identify with particular political identities—the nation, which often gives rise to violent contestation. The head master of the writer , Siyad Barre has opened Pandora box when he armed its own clan and lowered the state apparatus to its family.
    The process of drawing the boundaries of political community since the end of colonialism in the Horn of Africa is often accompanied by violent conflict. For example , the current President of Somaliland Musa Bixi had routed Somalia ‘s killing machine , the strongest garrison in Hargeisa in 1988. This conflict becomes invariably focused on the state because it is in the latter that power is concentrated, and whoever has access to state power, has access to state resources. That is why Hassen Sheik and its gang wanted to monopolize the resource ; ironically, they cannot control Somali’s capital let alone the rest of Somalia .
    In the Horn ‘state power is both the goal of conflict and the means whereby it is waged, making the state both the object of conflict and a party to it. Somaliland is surrounded with the dictators such as Isayas , Guelleh, and Sissi who are good for nothing in terms of governing their people.
    Furthermore, the geopolitics of Horn of Africa is in its highest gear that is a golden opportunity for Somaliland isolated in the last 33 years. The time has come for Somaliland to be the 55th nation in Africa. If the tiny Djibouti with less 1 million people, and home of seven military camps of insertional countries, why not Somaliland that had held a free and fair elections in the its last five terms , a democratic country, and beacon of hope. she should be ushered in the international community. Unlike South Sudan and Eritrea which are not a colonial creation, Somaliland—reverting to its colonial boundaries as a British Protectorate, continues to enjoy de facto statehood in the absence of international recognition. Eritrea became a sovereign state in 1993 following a protracted conflict with Ethiopia.
    Lastly, Ethiopia with 120 million people badly needs a port and access to the sea ; currently, it paid 1.5 billion dollars to Djibouti.
    To refresh the memory of the writers, the former Italian and British Somaliland colonial territories decided to tie their fates together shortly after independence. However, this decision proved fatal as it bred a rogue Somali state that initiated the first round of political mayhem in the Horn of Africa. The Somali search for nationhood has been characterized by secessionist and irredentist claims that have resulted in fraught relations with all the countries in the region. The emerging crises of the nation-state project in Somalia also suffered from misdiagnoses, as either a case of contested nationalism or clannishness . The recent Somali Interior Minister using religion language and dancing with Al Shabab will not cross a duck across a street. Yet, more recent scholarship suggests greater complexity in the construction of Somali political identities, which in turn impact state formation. Vacillation between multiple meanings of identity, cosmopolitanism and extraterritorial ideas of belonging present new frameworks for understanding the challenge of state building in failed state of Somalia. Somalis were decided in five countries Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somaliland and Somalia and they are living peacefully in its own countries except the failed state of Somalia.


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