The Horn Of Africa States: Solidarity Of The HAS World – OpEd


President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud of Somalia was again in Eritrea on March 13th, 2023 for the third time in less than nine months, indicating the building of closer relationship of the two countries.

President Hassan already enjoys a good relationship with President Ismail Guelleh of Djibouti and, of course, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia. Somalia is suffering much from its war with the implanted terror groups in the country and should be grateful for his fellow Horn of Africa States leaders in their support for his country. It is not a war that can be easily won when the country is still suffering from its own civil strives that have lasted more than three decades.

Eritrea has been training Somali soldiers over the past six years and the process continues as reported by some media that they would be taking additional troops for training on the request of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, who is also reported to have been acting as a go-between Eritrea and Djibouti on their border disputes. This is a good sign that the Horn of Africa States region is growing up to enable itself solve some of its own internal issues. 

Eritrea is generally frowned upon by most countries of the world and often labeled as Africa’s North Korea, an isolated country with very few friends in the continent. But the fact that it maintains good relations with most of the Horn of Africa States region is a good sign that the country is not as isolated as North Korea is. Eritrea plays significant roles in the building up of the region and is now expected to rejoin the IGAD region, which it left in 2007 after disagreements with the then government of Ethiopia. Relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea was restored in 2018, soon after present prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed took over leadership of Ethiopia, and ended years of hostility between the two countries. 

In a recent trip to Eritrea by President William Ruto of Kenya to Eritrea, it is reported that President Isais Afwerki of Eritrea would have said in the encounter between the two presidents that “We have to assume responsibility and revitalize IGAD so that we can have a functional, real organization for the region is critical. Without that mechanism, ideas and goodwill will not be productive. We will have to create an institution that is functional and result-oriented so that we can say we have changed the face of the region.” This was, indeed, a bold statement and it appears the president is keeping his word.

The Horn of Africa States is a region of only the four states of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti (the SEED countries) and the closer these countries come together, the easier it would be to solve some of the intractable problems of the Horn of Africa States. The fact that President Hassan has visited Eritrea three times is a good omen for the region.

Regional political cooperation, economic cooperation and general development would be better addressed together instead of each country finding its way and especially in this tumultuous world which is now only playing in blocks. A successful Horn of Africa States block would enhance a more successful IGAD region and a more successful East Africa.

President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud’s visit to Eritrea is also a further indication that Somalia is no longer alone in tackling its problems. Earlier there was a visit to Mogadishu of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Ismail Omar Guelleh where they pledged to assist Somalia fight off the terror groups in the country through additional troops outside the ATMIS project. Perhaps there should also be Eritrean troops in the country to show full solidarity of the region in tackling the region’s collective security and development.

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

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

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