THE HORN OF AFRICA’S UNWAVERING HAPPENINGS, TRENDS AND OUTCOME
June 6, 2021: The Horn of Africa, which is the easternmost peninsula of the African continent, lies along the southern boundary of the Red Sea and extends hundreds of kilometers into the Gulf of Aden, Somali Sea and Guardafui Channel. Comprised primarily of nations like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan, the region has a population of over 200million people. It will be right to say one cannot overlook the profound historical and geopolitical importance of the region. For the past six decades, the region has witnessed its own fair share of problems ranging from intra-state and inter-state conflicts, instability, insecurity as well as famine.
The people of Ethiopia have suffered from an ill-considered and poorly founded rule of two self-proclaimed revolutionary regimes, the Eritrean people for their part endured 30 years of warfare while the Somali people have been afflicted by misrule and a state dominated by violence and an unending islamist insurgency. Ethiopia and Somalia have been to war twice in 1963 and 1978. Ethiopia equally went to war twice with Eritrea in 1961 until 1991 and the border war that erupted between the two countries from 1998 until 2000. Somalia has been engulfed in endless internal conflicts for the last 30 years. Across the Horn of Africa, warfare has been accompanied by famine and pestilence, and its people have been caught in conflict between their traditions and values and the practices of their political elites.
These happenings do not however define the Horn of Africa as a region that is unstable and susceptible to recurrent conflict and chaos. Today, several states in the region have evolved and made great strides as concerns governance, which could lead one to conclude that the last sixty years were possibly unusual stages where the phase of State formation was critical indeed.
Things started to change for the better in the Horn of Africa in 2018, which saw Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia ascend to the position of Prime Minister. Abiy Ahmed came to power in Ethiopia in a culmination of popular opposition to the TPLF’s policy of institutionalized ethnicity, monopoly of power by a minority regime in the economic, security and defense sectors, and, heavy-handed repression with repetitive atrocities bordering on ethnic cleansing in various parts of the country. Abiy’s reformist government was faced with a swing of contentious political issues and the daunting task of reversing the legacy of ethnic polarization and set the country on the right footing. Shortly after becoming Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed’s government signed a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship with Eritrea that brought an end to two decades of conflict. Not long after, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia signed similar agreements of cooperation aimed at cultivating and consolidating lasting ties between them for comprehensive economic cooperation. Later on Abiy Ahmed’s good works would experience a setback from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, TPLF, which could not withstand the reforms Ethiopia was undergoing. To this effect, it resorted to conventional strategies like supporting subversive groups and armed movements amongst other things. On November 4 2020, armed forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) Northern Command headquarters in Mekelle and bases in Adigrat, Agula, Dansha, and Sero in the Tigray Region. Sadly, influential forces in the West and elsewhere who had invested heavily in the TPLF regime in the past years silently supported the TPLF’s terrifying acts. It is worth noting that the TPLF regime is said to have received about 40billion US dollars in budgetary and projects funds from a plethora of multilateral and bilateral donors when it was at the helm of power in Ethiopia from 2008 until 2018 alone.
It is understood that the objective of the TPLF’s forces attacks of November 4 was to totally neutralize the Northern Command which possessed around 80% of the EDF’s total arsenal. The TPLF killed several hundred non- Tigrayan soldiers within the Northern Command and its overall plan was to topple the central government once it had pacified the Northern Command. Unfortunately, the rather dangerous scheme did not yield any fruit, but has left the region in a deplorable state, international NGOs and humanitarian organisations trying to portray the TPLF as the victim and the Ethiopian government as the villain. The conflict in Tigray has without any doubt worsened the humanitarian situation in the region as it happened at the peak of the harvest season. A precarious situation has now been aggravated by the war that the TPLF launched callously. The current humanitarian situation in Tigray requires urgent attention, which is being addressed by the Ethiopian Government with support from its international and regional partners. It is therefore imperative to identify the root cause of the crisis and the threat it poses to regional peace and stability as well as its humanitarian concerns which must be addressed.