The Horn Of Africa States: When Chaos Takes Center Stage – OpEd


They seem all to hate each other. Looking at the map from the East, one observes the Chinese and the Philippines and they compete and fight over the South China Sea, and of course the smaller power, the Philippines, calls for help from a bigger nation, the United States of America.

Not far from there, is the island of Taiwan, previously the Republic of China, which China claims, is part of its territory which must come back to the motherland but resisting not only by themselves but also on the prodding of other nations, and  again further up, there is the Japanese complaining to the United Nations Organization, although we do not know if they are united anymore, about missile tests of North Korea, who hence seek help from their patron nation, the United States, while the other, North Korea, backs into China, its traditional supporter. It would appear the North Korea/South Korea is overshadowed by the North Korea/Japan hatred of each other. Further South, there is the unending saga between the arch enemies of India and Pakistan, who might as well be in two different planets, and they have both become nuclear of late. The rivalry between China and India over Himalayan glaciers also remains another point of contention between these two future powerhouses.

Further West is the centuries old Iranian/Arab rivalry, compounded by the creation of the State of Israel in West Asia in the last century, and the continuing Turkish and Kurd conflicts, all of which seem to be as unnerving as they can be. It is a region further complicated by the interventions of distant nations like the Europeans and the United States and the Russians and the Chinese. The call it the Middle East when it should just be West Asia! And over seventy years, Europe appeared to have found its peace, but Ukraine has come in the way lately and old Europe is at war once again with itself. Only Latin America with its minor problems seems to be less chaotic although the Venezuelan/Cuban/Nicaraguan tectonics still abound but to lower temperature levels. 

These local regional conflagrations are compounded by superpower rivalries such as the Russian/USA rivalry or the Chinese/USA rivalry and the old Europe which still believes they count but which really do not count anymore. When all these conflicts are raging and hatred among nations and regions abound, the Horn of Africa States, could not be at peace either. It straddles one of the most important geostrategic waterways, which is needed and used by all these nations, who are at each others’ throats.

It, indeed, is a world where chaos has taken center stage, and disharmony has become the way and threats are countered by counterthreats, for wherever one looks, wars and/or threats of war are flaring, and there are no wisemen or women in the center stage.  The world is bound to not only injure but destroy itself if this fracturing continues. The center stage is no longer at ease and the United Nations Organization, which was supposed to be handling matters in these hard times, appears no longer united and chaos has taken over it. People who do not want to listen to each other gather there every day but to no avail, of course. Why is there need, then, for such an organization, when it appears to be failing in every aspect of its raison d’etre, even at the Security Council level. The G20 meeting of Finance Ministers yesterday (February 25th, 2023) in India is a perfect example where great nations are now becoming starkly on opposite sides of any issue and all issues.

It is in these times that there is a need for the region of the Horn of Africa States to revisit its priorities and faced the world together, not as single states as they are today, but as a group, in this chaotic world, where wisdom is no longer the way but greed and accompanying power. It is a world where leading powers seem not to be prepared to cooperate in addressing global challenges. If the big boys are doing what they are doing, what about the smaller/younger and sometimes more violent ones be prepared to do?

It is perhaps time the region adopted a new regional strategy, gradual at first and with a lot of discretion to save it from the oncoming chaos, where the bigger nations seem to have failed to manage their affairs and/or world affairs. A direct communications line between the foreign ministries of the region to be followed by the heads of governments, would probably be the best channel to handle matters among the nations of the Horn of Africa States, and the sooner they do this, it would serve the region better.

We know what is being asked of the leaders is not easy. It is a conflicted region both internally within each state and within the member states of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti (the SEED countries). The all suffer from long and protracted political issues, which perhaps explains why there is such a large regional diaspora across the globe, because they could not handle their internal problems. They should not, however, lose hope for life is hope itself and they should be talking to each other and especially in these hard times, where chaos has taken center stage.

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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