The Horn Of Africa States: Regional Developments – OpEd


The Horn of Africa States remained in the news. In the past week, the continent of Africa was meeting at its roof, Addis Ababa. The week also witnessed the usual talk of the Horn of Africa as ablaze as ever.

There was news of hunger, starvation and migration. Even the ongoing European war in Ukraine did not affect the region that much, although the presence of forces of the East, Russia and China were mentioned in a number of occasions – the presence of Russians in Sudan’s port of Suwakin and the Chinese presence in Djibouti. But the Americans were not far behind. There was news that they are sending one of their war ships to Berbera, and so the region stayed in the news, all for things that do not add one iota to the development and security and peace of the region.

Ethiopia worked hard to settle the Tigray issue although it is not yet fully in place. Somalia’s problems with terror groups continued and tribal outbursts flared up again in the country. Djibouti’s ailing President continued in his usual diplomatic maneuverings in the region and Isais Afwerki’s Eritrea, although not being a signatory to the Tigray peace agreement, appears to be respecting the terms of the accord.

Relative peace appears to be holding in the region despite the flare ups and the region is on track to setting up peace in the region. International inference in the region is not out of the picture and could perhaps be causing the flare ups to forestall the peace and security process in progress. There were news of Arab presence and military accords with the Somali government, which the Somali population generally do not find it appealing and even attempts to set up base at the very Horn of Africa, the Ras Aseyr or Cape Guardafui as it is better known.

The Egyptians opposition to the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the River Nile challenges remained an obstacle to peace in the region. Egypt still believes that the dam is a threat to its national security and survival but is taking steps that would only aggravate the matter and not the right path to set up a negotiated settlement of the matter, thus working on undermining the security of the region. 

While the world is busy on the current Ukraine war or the Chinese and Taiwan or even the Middle East, the Horn of Africa States region also continues to have its geostrategic importance towards global trade, and hence global stability. It lies astride one of the main shipping lanes of the world – the Suez/Red Sea/Bab El Mandeb/Gulf of Aden/Somali Sea/Indian ocean waterway for both goods and navies and people.

It is also the gateway to Africa and hence the reason for the very presence of Chinese navy in the region. The region is also a big market some one hundred and sixty million of them and enjoys maritime resources and others including oil and gas, which todate remains unexploited but which could be useful for first striker.

People traffickers continued to push people away from the region and reports of some 1.4 million people on the move to Yemen, a country more riskier than the Horn of Africa States, also appeared in the news. But over all the region prodded on, in its life challenges and its leadership kept the work on an even keel, maneuvering the minefields of the region’s multiple challenges.

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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