The Horn Of Africa States: Helping Peace In Sudan – OpEd


Sudan is a major neighbor of the Horn of Africa States. They share a long border stretching for some 1,430 km and consisting of 744 kilometers with Sudan and 686 kilometers with Eritrea. There are also population mixtures who live on both sides of the borders. Indeed, what happens in Sudan affects the Horn of Africa States region and vice versa. There are thousands of HAS refugees who fled into Sudan during the troubles of the HAS region. There are many who still stay in Sudan, and some have become citizens.

Indeed, what happens in Sudan, or the Horn of Africa States has implications for both, and it is perhaps why the Horn of Africa States needs not to ignore Sudan at its time of need. At present we have a conflict engineered between two personalities in Sudan – the head of the military, General Al Burhan and the head of the Rapid Support Forces, General Dagalo, but it could soon turn into tribal and gang wars, if the fighting is not stopped on its tracks before it gets out of control.

The two sides are currently fighting over control over some of the institutions of the country, and eventually control over the country. Although many countries have called for a cessation of hostilities, it is not clear whether this is genuine or not. It appears that there is still a chance for reconciliation between the two sides who worked together since the collapse of the old regime under Omar El Bashir, and it is where the Horn of Africa States comes in. They have the experience and expertise for matters of this nature. They have gone through similar processes of brother fighting brother phenomenon. They should be using their resources, expertise and willingness to help sort out the hostilities in Sudan, which does not serve either of the contending parties.

The logic of war and violence does not work, and it is perhaps time the HAS countries and not IGAD, that dysfunctional organization, took over and pushed for a process of political settlement between the two warring groups. The IGAD made a lip service call for peace but did not go beyond that.

Violence and fighting in one country always spill over into neighboring countries and has the capacity to spread instability and refugees that cause human misery in much larger areas than the original location. Note that the war of Eritrea’s liberation from Ethiopia caused many Eritrean refugees that went into Sudan, where some never came back and even the recent Tigray War in Ethiopia, which also caused a lot of refugees that spilled over into Sudan.  Similar refugee problems happened between Chad and Sudan, the Central Africa Republic and Sudan. Some countries are already closing their borders with Sudan such as Egypt. 

It is where the Horn of Africa States should shine and help settle the war in Sudan between Al Burhan and Dagalo. The governments of the region cannot just be watching the spread of violence that would surely spill over into the region. Some of the countries which have interests in Sudan would probably put their weight behind one or the other of the contestants in this uncalled-for war in Sudan. The Horn of Africa States should move in the direction of peace contrary to those countries and there are quite a number of them.

A cessation of hostilities through the offices of the Horn of Africa States would be beneficial for the region, and more particularly, with respect to the future of the negotiations with respect to the GERD in Ethiopia, which has caused some rift with Sudan. It may also open doors for Sudan to become a member country of the Horn of Africa States, which would make the region bigger in size and population. Note Sudan is the third largest country of Africa with an area of some 1.9 million square kilometers and a population of some 46 million. This would make the region one of the biggest in Africa with an area of 3.8 million square kilometers and a population of over two hundred million, and long coast stretching for 5,555km from the Red Sea to the northern Indian Ocean.

This would help create a Horn of Africa States with democratic, civilian-led cohesive administrations that would assist the development of the region and move it away from the intermittent civil strivings that have bedeviled it for so long.

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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