The State of the Horn: The Easternmost Regions of Africa

The Growing Geopolitical Importance of Somaliland and the Zero Sum Game Players’ Dilemma

Somalilandsun: The Horn of Africa regions consist of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somaliland. This region, unfortunately, is marked with a constant turmoil and political unrest since the beginning of the eighteenth century. These unbroken chain of ethnic conflicts are usually driven by border disputes, scarcity of natural resources such as water and pastoral land.

Ethiopia has the largest population in the region and it has the most diverse ethnic groups in the Horn of African. Currently there are ten regional states and two chartered cities Addis Ababa-the capital, and Dire Dawa. Ethiopia is facing multiple challenges from two different fronts, domestic and external with Egypt due to the Nile River dam dispute. Some of the regional states are not happy with current government structure and want to revert back to the old system of Amhara domination and others exhibit their own separate grievances.

Ethiopia is currently dealing with another serious conflict with Egypt regarding the construction of the mega hydro-electric dam. Egypt relies on the Nile River for its livelihood and support of its agriculture, fishing and transportation of goods and services. On the other hand, Ethiopia is building the dam for multi purpose including to generate hydro-electric power for domestic use and to export to the neighboring Djibouti as well to control the seasonal flooding of the river.

Most recently Egypt smuggled arms supply to Somalia by breaking the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations against Somalia for the fear these weapons may end up in the hands of the terrorist group Al-Shabab. Somalia on the other is entertaining both side as good neighbor with Ethiopia and as a sworn Arab League member and friend of Egypt. This is not sitting well Abiy Ahmed and his government.

Despite all these multifaceted challenges the current prime mister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed brought about significant changes of democratic good governance, by releasing all political prisoners, and by putting to end the long border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed is considered to be a young educated, energetic, ambitious leader.

Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation. Abiy is the first Oromo leader to hold such high executive leadership position in the history of Ethiopia. The Oromo people were oppressed for the longest time in the history of Ethiopia and has suffered centuries of maltreatment,

although they were the largest population in the region. They eventually revolted in early seventies against the late Emperor Haile Selassie before he was dethroned by the military regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam.

In 1977 Somalia and Ethiopia went to war over long standing border dispute. During this time the late Somalia president, Mohamed Siad Bare seeking an ally to defeat Ethiopia tried to attract the Oromo rebels by luring them to a historic falsehood that the Oromo people were of Somali origin so they could help him fight on the same front against their common enemy of Ethiopia.

Djibouti on the other hand plays a big role in the region as the host of multiple super power countries including the United States of America, France and China. Djibouti also has a border dispute with Eritrea and had multiple skirmish along their borders. Correspondingly, Djibouti is not void of its own domestic problems including dissent of opposition groups seeking change.

Somalia, on the other hand, after the collapse of the military regime in 1991 is still trying to recover from the scars of the crippling civil war of the last three decades. Before the current regime of Mohamed Abdullahi, Farmajo, his predecessors did some tangible progress by forming a Federal Government and self-governing regional states. The regional states were cooperating with their Federal Government by following the provisional constitution.

Unlike his predecessors, Farmajo, with total disregard of the constitution had probed up puppet regional head of states by promising financial gains including appointment to prominent government positions, not to mention intimidation when warranted. Now, Somalia is in the verge of descending into a dangerous unrest if Farmajo is reelected.

Although his term is ending in February 2021, he is trying to get re-elected by any means necessary including corrupting the parliament , seeking extension by postponing the election, or using an emergency provision by creating civil unrest between the regional states designated as “enemies of the people.”

Sadly, Farmajo’s aggression is not limited to Somalia but it transcends boundaries to the neighboring countries including Somaliland by using proxy propaganda tacts to destabilize the country which enjoys peace and had made progress in multiple fronts since it reclaimed its independence in May 18, 1991.

“…After discussions in 1960, Representatives of Somaliland and Somalia agreed that an Act of Union will be signed by both states on independence and that this document will be in the nature of an international agreement between the two states. The Legislative Assembly of the independent STATE OF SOMALILAND therefore signed the Union of Somaliland and Somalia Law (set out below) on 27 June 1960. The Law was immediately effective in Somaliland, but as set out in the recital, it was supposed to be signed by the representatives of Somalia, as well.

In fact, this never happened…”

(“SOMALILAND & SOMALIA: THE ACT OF UNION An Early Lesson for Somaliland”).

In reality, Somaliland emerged as a promising young democratic nation unlike Somalia. Somaliland held five presidential elections by one-man-one vote, two elected chambers of representatives and has a constitution approved by its citizens.

Somaliland-Somalia talks restarted on June 2020 in Djibouti. Although the anticipations surroundings the outcome of the talks were mixed, it ended up to be a flop. Because the Somalia government delegation led by Farmajo came to the table empty handed with no preparation at all. Fortunately, this opened a golden opportunity to the Somaliland delegation led by Muse Bihi Abdi, the president of Somaliland to show the international community and stakeholders that they were a sovereign nation before Somalia and the union was not binding in the international law.

By Mohamed Adan Samatar

Works Cited

“SOMALILAND & SOMALIA: THE ACT OF UNION ? An Early Lesson for Somaliland.” SOMALILAND LAW, Accessed 22 June 2020