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Until recently the ‘Horn of Africa’ consisted of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. The collapse of the bipolar world and the subsequent territorial reconfiguration resulted in forming both failed and new states in the horn. Today the horn is an entity comprising more than the three original countries. Eritrea and the various offshoots of Somalia are now the new realities of the horn. As if that is not enough, the vast country of The Sudan, which borders the horn recently broke up into two, forming the new state of South Sudan. This resource rich area of the East African Region (water, oil, etc) is now openly attracting the big players of the world system. At the same time, the Arab awakening, be it via religious fundamentalism (Al-Qaeda, et al) or democracy, (Arab Spring, etc) is making it difficult for empire to access the region’s resources on its own, without systemic help from the locale. When empire plans such a protracted move, we must be very wary and extremely cautious, lest we go back to the future via a new Berlin!
It is an open secret that empire’s actual intentions are not altruistic, notwithstanding the continuous preaching of the global paid media, (state or corporate) NGOs, academia, etc on behalf of entrenched interest. Empire’s interest in the region, first and foremost, is to secure routes (land and sea) for the oil that is to be extracted from the vast oil basin of central and west Africa, which stretches from Cameron/Nigeria all the way to South Sudan, Uganda and probably beyond. The protection thus afforded to the project will most likely secure the oil’s exclusive tradability in US dollars. The US doesn’t care who owns what, so long as that particular commodity, especially oil, is traded in its paper currency. If truth be told, this is where the real power of the US Empire rests and its governments will do whatever it takes to protect this rare privilege. Iraq refused the dollarization of its oil and ended up receiving empire’s unconditional wrath. Today Iran is targeted for demolition because of its intransigence to dollarize its oil. Here we are assuming our regular readers are too sophisticated to fall for the laughable narrative of weapons of mass destruction (WMD.)
Securing this whole oil basin on a lasting basis won’t be easy and that is why empire is grooming potential regional power/s to do the job. The world-renowned Egyptian scholar and one of Africa’s foremost interlocutors had something to say about the so-called emerging countries/regional powers in one of his recent commentaries. See Samir Amin’s article next column. We believe it is instructive for those newcomers to the game to thoroughly study previous experiences that are more or less in the same genre (Turkey, Iran, Egypt, etc.) Be that as it may, in these days of global public anger, empire’s project is bound to face all sorts of obstacles. For a start, the two Sudans are already at war, literally speaking, and the proposed pipe line that is going to cross the breadth of Kenya all the way to the port of Lamu, must secure, at least the consensual go ahead from Kenya’s coast people, who are now displaying a palpable desire to go it alone. For these and other reasons, the Greater Horn, as we would like to call it, (the old horn, the two Sudans and Kenya) needs levelheaded thinking/approach by all concerned, particularly the political leaders of the very people.
Without sounding unduly chauvinistic, we believe Ethiopia can play a very prominent role (compared to the other countries in the Greater Horn) in bringing stability, peace, development and
collective security to the troubled region. But to do so it must, first and foremost, reassert and uphold the primacy of peoples’ interests and not only that of outsiders. In addition, Ethiopia must also put its house in order, determinedly, if it wants to convince the unconvinced.
To highlight the obvious; Ethiopia, (as a country right in the center of the region) has within its territorial jurisdiction many of the ethnic groupings that reside in the border areas of almost all the other countries and this by itself exerts a significant pulling effect. Ethiopia’s relative resource potential (hydro power, gas, water, agriculture, etc), which matter most to the region’s multitude, can also serve as an additional incentive for a more cohesive coexistence. Most importantly, however, it is Ethiopia’s overall governance (not only political) that can solidify trust amongst member countries and their people.
In this regard, Ethiopia must first sanitize itself from the very malice that afflict our neighbors. Ethiopia must show the Somalis that it is the ‘rule of law’ and not the ‘rule of kin’ that ultimately brings peace. The slogan; ‘everybody is equal under the law’ must be tangibly practiced and not only preached ad nauseam! It should also show the Sudanese and the Kenyans that it is an equitable growth and not the criminal accumulation of oligarchs that will secure the future. To this end, it must bring its own criminally inclined oligarchs (domestic & foreign) and their Godfathers and goons (within the power structure) to justice. Moreover, Ethiopia’s longstanding position: ‘religion is personal, country is common’ must be enforced across the board. Only such moves can inspire confidence amongst its neighbors. Take heed, in today’s world centrifugal forces can easily take over whole societies and threaten their very centers (Libya, etc.) Here is a famous warning that might still be relevant to Africa’s collective predicament.
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats (1919.)