The issue involves the long-standing conflict in the Horn of Africa. Since the 18th century, the region has been in constant conflict for various reasons from territorial to political disputes. Conflicts led to the death of many people in the region, the displacement of innocent families, and the slow political, economic, and social growth in the region. Although local and foreign groups and agencies have been highly active in helping the region resolve conflicts, they have been unsuccessful. The endless conflict, therefore, raises the question of whether it could be stabilized despite the existing challenges of resistance and violence. The succeeding discussion is an attempt to determine a probable answer for the question. To provide an answer to the question, a thorough review of existing literature about conflict and conflict resolution in the Horn of Africa were reviewed and the strategies for conflict management were evaluated based on their success. The research resulted in the conclusion that theoretically, the strategies for conflict resolution could result to stabilization in the Horn of Africa. However, in reality, the efforts and intentions of those groups who attempt to resolve the conflicts often intensify them.
The people in the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia) have been suffering from conflicts since the 1800s. During the 18th century, the Horn of Africa was in constant turmoil due to foreign attempts of colonizing the region. The conflict continued until the 1940s. In 1960, the Eritrean War of Independence began until it ended in 1991. However, during those years, other conflicts occurred in other areas of the region like the Shifta War, the Ethiopian Civil War, the Ogaden War, the Ethiopian-Somali Border War, and the Djiboutian Civil War, among others. In recent years, several conflicts occurred in the region involving different groups, from separatist movements, the foreign military aid, and the government armies that attempt to control the scale and impact of insurgencies in their country. The primary reasons for conflicts in the Horn of Africa are territorial and religious in nature. The War in Somalia, for instance, is a conflict between federal government forces and Islamist movements, fueled by the two opposing groups to take control of Somalia and freely set borders and acquire territories for their own gains. Separatist movements, on the other hand, involve in insurgencies in their attempts to overthrow foreign-owned private corporations that benefit from the rich oil resources in the region.
The long-standing conflict in the region, which claimed thousands of lives, prevents social, cultural, and economic development in the region. The detrimental impact of the conflict highlights the need for resolving the conflict in the region. However, the unfortunate circumstances beg the question, “Can the war-torn nation be stabilized?” considering that conflicts have been going on for so long and the groups involved are adamant when it comes to arriving at agreements that would end the conflicts. Theoretically, the war-torn region can be stabilized. Several discussions by analysts and foreign aid groups focused on various strategies that could be implemented to either prevent further conflict or manage disagreements between the warring groups in the region. Lyons, from the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States, discusses various strategies that the Council came up with in their effort to extend their assistance to end the conflict in the Horn of Africa. Several strategies include holding face-to-face meetings with each of the groups involved in conflicts, provide financial aid to help those who were displaced during the conflicts and enable the government to implement strict sanctions to control insurgents. The U.S. also acknowledges that the country is influential enough to help facilitate demobilization, communication or peace talks between the groups, and stabilization in the region.
Other discussions that attempt to provide solutions for conflict management, and thus, stabilization in the Horn of Africa, highlight the important involvement of various agencies, local or foreign, public or private, from various sectors in the community that would help in the implementation of good governance and conflict management strategies. Other strategies include enabling government forces in the Horn of Africa to implement sanctions and other policies that would control insurgencies, like increasing military support in the region. In reality, however, the strategies will not guarantee the end of conflict in the region because most of the organizations or groups that intend to help do not have the best intentions in doing so. Since the colonial times, other countries have been interested in conquering the Horn of Africa due to its resources, specifically oil. Thus, the intentions of colonizers were to conquer the Horn of Africa in order to tap the oil reserves in the country. Colonization is the source of conflict in the region, which spans until today. Today, despite the best intentions of foreign countries to help end conflict in the Horn of Africa, their intentions to do the same, that is to take advantage of oil resources in the region, take precedence. Most of the strategies or foreign policies of local and foreign groups that intervene in regional affairs focus on communication between the groups in conflict and for the reestablishment of the administration for good governance. However, foreign countries are interested in intervening in the conflicts in the region because of what they might gain in the process. Efforts in resolving the conflict in the Horn of Africa will only lead to stabilization if those who are helping the region have no hidden interests in the matter and genuinely want resolution in those countries.