The Horn Of Africa States: A Delusional Foreign Policy – OpEd


Does Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed represent the epitome of a volte-face in the region’s politics. Perhaps! His recent actions and words are not vastly different from those of Charles De Gaulle in 1967 or so it seems. He made a bomb-shell kind of an MoU with a region of Somalia, much like De Gaulle did when he pronounced “Vive le Quebec Libre” in Montreal on July 24, 1967, and then skipped all engagements in Ottawa and left Canada.

Abiy Ahmed skipped the meet of IGAD in Uganda much like De Gaulle did. He did not have the courage nor the temerity to face the after-effects of what he did and talks behind a group of appointees called the Prosperity Party in Addis Ababa, who have no independent thought processes. The attempt to split Somalia into parts is not that of a wise man but that of a double-face man who can drop anyone any time from his calendar. He did the same to Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea who supported him in his internal war on Tigray. The two are not on speaking terms now, it appears. Why would Somalis of any walk of life or region trust him?

For thousands of years the Horn of Africa region represented a region of hope and development and only declined and drastically during the last two hundred years, breaking down into its current political infrastructures. Before then, history tells us they had a say in the then known worlds. They conducted business and had relations with Asia from West to South to East and Europe. Why is Abiy making the problems of the Horn of Africa those of other states like the United Arab Emirates? West Asia has its own problems, which they are unable to solve for over seventy years and they should not be allowed to project their cynical influences into the Horn of Africa States, a region which could be as wealthy , as rich and as more powerful like others, should it pay attention to its needs and work on it.

It has all the resources it needs to develop in this emerging world, where sides are being taken. Should the Horn of Africa countries choose differing sides or the same side. It is our belief that they should all be on the same side, instead of differing sides. They can then thrive together and prosper. Dispersed forces and energies represent weakness and eventually lead to failures. The Horn of Africa should not fail again, and this is perhaps, is where Abiy is driving the region to. This cannot be accepted and should not be allowed.

It is, indeed, mission impossible for himself or Ethiopia to embark on a new war with Somalia. It is neither beneficial for his country nor for Somalia, two impoverished states that both live on handouts from others. He was supposed to calm and put down the flames in his country, help others put down theirs, and lead the region to peace and reconciliation and not to war and further splitting and breakups. He was supposed to collect the region together and move them in the same direction instead of making the region lose direction again and get lost in the jungles of the pitiless world of today.

Can Abiy Ahmed ally his foreign policy totally to that of the United Arab Emirates and become a client state of that small emirate? The Ethiopia we know conducted its foreign policy independently. It should not carry out its foreign policy to be such subservient state to another much smaller country. We know most Ethiopian elites understand the big picture. They know that their country’s foreign policy is at a loss and that history is not waiting for them. It is on the move. Peace, for the first time in over a century, was settling down between the lowlands and the highlands of the region and the disturbance being caused the current Ethiopian administration should not be allowed. The foreign Minister even left as he could not accept the direction to which the Prime Minister is steering things.

The four countries of the region, namely the SEED countries, can live together and work together. The region has a chance to recover and become a truly prosperous region, if only it avoids going into a new cycle of wars as is being prompted by Ethiopia’s directionless foreign policy. It is imperative that the region should realize its significance and its assets. It is strategically located, owns a large youthful population that can be deployed with dexterity to turn the machines of economic activities, become a market as well and exploit the resources of the region both above soil and sub-soil for the development of the region.

We hope he heeds.

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: A Delusional Foreign Policy – OpEd

  • January 31, 2024 at 4:07 pm

    Somali saying goes, ” a drown man in the torrent grips the bubble”. The writer is in his dilutional narrative once again to mislead the international community. Thanks to Ethiopia, Somaliland, an oasis of peace, democracy and rule of law in the sea of Horn of Africa conflicts is put on the map. The failed state of Somalia can not control the capital of Somalia let alone Somaliland. In the light of international law, the failed state of Somalia in the explanation of Max Weber does not protect its citizens and does not have the legitimacy to govern; consequently, Somaliland using the doctrine of remedial secession has the right to be recognized. To those who do not the history of failed state of Somalia and Somaliland, I will do my best to quote the following research paper:
    The Somaliland was known as the Protectorate under the British rule from 1884 until June 26th, 1960 when Somaliland got its independence from Britain. Before signing a friendship treaty with Britain, the northern part of Somalia was an independent state. There were different reasons that triggered the clans who were living in the northern part of Somalia to sign a treaty with Britain. The main reason that triggered the northern part of Somalia to sign a treaty with Britain was mainly related with their fear against the expansionist movement of the Ethiopian Empire in the region and Somali nationalism aimed at uniting the five parts of Somalis inhabited : Djibouti, Somaliland, Somalia , Northern territory of Kenya and Somali region of Ethiopia . Instigated by this reason, Ise, Gadabursi ( the minority clan of the writer who consists of less 6 percent of Somaliland population), Habar Garhajis, Habar Awal, and Habal Tol Jalo clans signed formal treaties with Great Britain by the end of 1884 . This treaty had no clauses related to cession and it only gave to Britain the right to pre-emption . This friendship treaty was properly designed to maintain the independence of different clans who were living in the northern Somalia and large measure of sovereignty was enjoyed by the clans.

    After sixty six years of control by the British Empire, Somaliland got its independence on June 26, 1960 and the new state received recognition from thirty five countries including all five permanent members of the Security Council. But, the independence of Somaliland stayed only for five days. Five days later, the newly established Somaliland and the Italian Somali agreed to form a union through a bilateral treaty, though the treaty ended up with irregularities and finally Somaliland left the treaty. Both states drafted a separate treaties and Somaliland sent its treaty to the authorities in Mogadishu. Yet authorities in Mogadishu did not send their own treaty to the authorities in Barbara. The draft treaty sent by the Somaliland authorities was never approved by the Southern Somali authorities and rather they drafted their own, the Act of Union, and approved by the national legislature . In the process, the authorities in Somaliland were never consulted and did not give their consent for the newly approved Act of Union.

    In July 1st, 1960 the Somali Republic was formed by uniting the British Somaliland and the Italian Somali. Though they formed the Republic by joining the British and the Italian Somali territories, the union did not last for a longer period of time peacefully. The failure to fulfill the aspirations of the people of northern Somalia, led the Republic to a civil war from 1980s onwards and eventually to the collapse of the Somali Republic . Immediately after the collapse of the Somali Republic, the people of Somaliland held a congress in which it was decided to withdraw from the “Union” with Somalia and to reinstate Somaliland’s sovereignty and declared their independence. Though Somaliland declared its independence twenty five years ago, its statehood is not recognized by the international community. Moreover, since the declaration of the independent statehood of Somaliland, the country is not yet recognized by any international and regional institutions like United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU). The MoU has been a gift from God to remedy the wrongs on the ground. Somaliland unlike South Sudan and Eritrea granted to be independence has the right to be ushered as a country.

    The failed state of Somalia , the parent state , is in names only , and Al shabab, the terrorist organization, is collecting more tax than Hassen sheik ‘s government. In the doctrine of self determination Somaliland has to gain its independence because she fulfills the Montevideo convention: its territory, its populations, its functioning government and its entering trade with other countries. On top of this , Somaliland is not violating the inherited borders after decolonization ; she is colonial creation, got is independence, and had a government that was recognized by 35 countries.


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