List of panels
The roots of Horn of African conflicts
Date and Start Time 28 June, 2013 at 10:30
The panel will discuss the roots of Horn of African various conflicts starting from at the end of 19th century until today: the conflict between ethno-national identity and state, the geopolitical interest of supper powers and their interference in the internal affairs of the region.
The Roots of Horn of African Conflicts (* Correct Version)
Each society passed through various conflicts in their history. Horn of African societies entered new types of violent conflicts starting at the end of 19th century, which is continuing until today under various forms. Exceptionality of Horn of Africa is that Abyssinia was the only African Empire which participated in the colonization of Africa with Western European states at the end of 19th century. Compared to all participants of colonial powers of this part of Africa, Abyssinian conquest war was the longest and the bloodiest violent conflict based on historical empirical data. The territories of many nations were divided and became part of different colonial powers and different nations were forced to be part of the same territory. The proposal panel will discus conflicts at different levels of the Horn of Africa: the conflict between state and ethno-national identity, the Ethiopian state colonial character from the view of non Abyssinia peoples, the problem of interference of the state in religion maters of some groups in Ethiopia (e.g., Islam and Waaqefana (Oromo indigenous religion)), geopolitical interests of foreign powers in the region will be the main points of the panel.
Chair: Prof. Mekuria Bulcha
Discussant: Dr. Alemayehu Kumsa
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
A pillar of stability or a source of regional troubles: Ethiopia's role in the conflicts of the Horn of Africa
Ethiopia was involved at one time or another in armed conflicts with its neighbors, except the tiny state of Djibouti to the east and Kenya to the south, in the past. It has also acted as peacemaker in internal Sudanese conflict in the 1970s and is acting now as a peacemaker and peacekeeper in Somalia.
However, historically, Ethiopia's role in conflict-making had overweighed its role of peacemaking. Its role in the destabilization of Somalia in the 1980s and the collapse of the Somali state in 1990, for example, was not insignificant. This paper questions the role of the peacemaker and image of stability which is ascribed to Ethiopia in the conflict prone region of the Horn of Africa. It argues that Ethiopia has been an epicenter for conflicts in the region in the past and will continue to be so even in the near future. There are two main reasons for that. First, the unresolved border-conflict with Eritrea can explode into armed confrontation any time. Secondly, as long as the conflict between the regime in power and the indigenous peoples of the regional states of Oromia, the Ogaden and Gambella are not resolved, the neighboring countries will also remain open to conflicts that can extend from Ethiopia into their territories. The paper argues that even the role which the Ethiopian regime is playing now in fighting international terrorism as a proxy for the Western countries camouflages heinous violations of human rights which if continued can plunge the region into intractable troubles. It suggests that, rather than containing religious fundamentalism as expected, the present behavior of the regime can instigate religious conflicts from which the region has been free so far. The on-going conflict between the Ethiopian regime and the Ethiopian Muslim community suggests an ominous warning.
Geo-strategic intervention and its consequentces in the Horn of Africa
This paper seeks to analyse how geo-strategic driven intervention creates havoc in the HOA.
Geo-strategic Intervention and Its Consequences in the Horn of Africa
The Nordic Africa Institute
The Horn of Africa (HOA) suffers of concerted pathologies the main of which are rampant intra-state and inter-state conflicts, state crisis, environmental degradation and underdevelopment that render the region the most unstable and hostile to life in the Continent. Multifaceted factors underlie for this state of conditions. One of these multifaceted factors relates to geo-strategic driven intervention by big powers. Geo-strategic driven intervention in the HOA assumes a variety of forms: Cold War, US global war on terror, war against piracy offshore Somalia, etc. The consequence of the politics of geo-strategic driven intervention for the peoples of the HOA has been devastating. The devastations relate to peace, security, stability, human rights, democratisation, identity relations, socio-economic development, etc. This paper seeks to analyse how geo-strategic driven intervention creates havoc in the HOA.
The way security cultures can shape security complexes: a case study of the Horn of Africa
The understanding of the security complex associated to the Horn of Africa requires a cultural approach, as the perceptions of threat and insecurity are socially and culturally built, linking people across space and time.
The research addresses the Security Complex in the Horn of Africa through the lens of the concept of "security culture", considered both regionally and from a domestic perspective; the four countries this paper will explore are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. The security complex characterizing this sub-region is not only the result of a sub-systemic competition and a power balancing phenomenon; it also stems from these countries' cultural background, which has shaped similar security cultures. Their perceptions of thereat and insecurity, as well as the building of responses to counter neighbouring challenges, are the result of the way history, ethnicity, and territoriality influenced relations between them. Thus, the paper underlines that solutions for the effective risk management in the Horn of Africa may be ensured through a "shared security strategy" that would answer the security dilemmas of these four actors.
The Oromo in Ethiopian historiography
The Oromo are the single largest national group in Ethiopia and one of the major African peoples.And yet,there is a good deal of ignorance about the Oromo, their history, way of life,political and religious institutions and even about their name itself in Ethiopian historiography.
As the result of the warfare between the Christians and the Oromo, the latter came to be known as the enemies of the Amhara. The enmity between the two communities, magnified by religious and cultural differences, created deeply seated spirit of animosity, which perpetuated the negative image , more to the point, demonization of the Oromo in Ethiopian historiography. European travelers and missionary accounts since the sixteenth century took on the perceptions of Ethiopian Christian chroniclers demonization of the Oromo and those perceptions were profoundly anti-Oromo. This paper will explore why the Oromo have been " the most misunderstood, and indeed most misrepresented" people in African history. The paper will also attempt to show that what was written about the Oromo was not only fragmentary but also biased. As a consequence the human qualities of the Oromo, their egalitarian culture, democratic political and religious institutions "were trapped" in the biased works of Christian chroniclers and Portuguese missionaries, European travelers accounts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and some scholarly works of the twentieth century.
The conflict between the Ethiopian state and the Oromo people
This paper discusses how the Abyssinian Empire able to colonize its neighboring nations at the end of 19th century and taking Oromo nation as a case study elucidates the contemporary conflict in Ethiopia.
Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. The etymology of the term from Latin word colonus, meaning farmers. This root reminds us that the practice of colonialism usually involved the transfer of population to new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to the country of origin. Colonialism is a characteristic of all known civilizations. Books on African history teaches us that Ethiopia and Liberia are the only countries, which were not colonized by West European states, but the paper argues that Ethiopia was created by Abyssinian state colonizing its neighbors during the scramble for Africa. Using comparative colonial history of Africa, the paper tries to show Abyssinian colonialism is the worst of conquest and colonial rule of all territories in Africa, depending on the number of people killed during the conquest war, brutal colonial rule, political oppression, poverty, lack of education, diseases, and contemporary land grabbing only in the colonial territories. In its arguments, the paper discuss why the Oromo were defeated at the end of 19th century whereas we do have full of historical documents starting from 13th century in which the Oromo defended their own territory against Abyssinian expansion. Finally it will elucidate the development of Oromo struggle for regaining their lost independence.
Oromo refugees and their impact
The Oromo are the single largest national group in Ethiopia and one of the major African peoples. And yet, Oromo’s are subjected to harm, ill-treatment and/or discrimination by the authorities in Ethiopia. Racial discrimination affected the Oromo more than any other group in the country.
It is a common knowledge for world community through United Nations High Commission and other International Organizations, which specialized on Human Rights that the Horn of African states are the largest producers of refugees and the biggest numbers of them are in the camps of Kenya. The majority of these people are from Ethiopia and Somalia. It is known that the conflicts in Ethiopia and Somalia are interrelated. The paper elucidates the origin of political conflicts in Ethiopia, which forced these people to escape from these conflict areas to safe their life in foreign countries, the paper focuses on the relationship between Oromo nation and Tigre Liberation Front (TPL) led contemporary government of Ethiopian empire. The paper also deals with the regional geopolitical influence of Ethiopian government, in which many Oromo political refugees were deported to Ethiopia by violating international law.
The Somali Islam: regional interactions and historical trends
Nasser’s Egypt was a key actor in the Somali struggle for independence, supplementing its political actions with religious appeal. The paper deals with Nasser’s attempts to include Somalia in the Arab world and concludes that this involvement promoted an internationalization of Somali local Islam.
Facing the overlap between the chain of Muslim brotherhoods and clan agnatic lineages in Somali Islam, the Egyptian Azharite mission in Somalia promoted the innovative forces of the Shāfi'ite tradition, connecting local Islam to some foreign, namely Egyptian, strains. This influence resulted in a more rigorist Islam, which, particularly in urban environment, successfully opposed the syncretism of Somali Islam and the authority of local Wadaad-s with the final effect to enable the development of some un- or even anti-Sufi sheikhs. In addition Egypt directly funded many schools according to its own pattern, that had a very modernist/Islamist background, in which the Qur'ān is only one subject among others, such as hadīth (tradition), Islamic history, law, and 'aqīda. A clanless Islam would find the favour with the political plans of the main Somali party, the Somali Youth League, because the achievement of a national and unitary society took for granted the relinquishment of clannish legacy. The paper assess the interactions between local actors vs. different international players on the eve of Somali national independence and devotes special attention to the ten years period of the Italian trusteeship over Somalia (1950-1960) as premise of further internationalization or Middle East orientation of Somali Islam as well as politics.
When the outside is inside: international features of the Somali "civil" war
The paper shows how international dynamics and actors have played a constitutive role in the formation and crisis of the Somali state, in its “internal” armed conflict, and in diverse statehood trajectories that have emerged on the ground in the past two decades.
Clanism and state failure narratives are often used to explain armed conflict in Somalia. While acknowledging that they may have certain explanatory virtues, this article shows their analytical, conceptual and empirical flaws. In reviewing the critical literature, this article seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the Somali state crisis: it shows how international dynamics and actors have played a constitutive role in the formation and crisis of the Somali state, in its "internal" armed conflict, and in diverse statehood trajectories that have emerged on the ground in the past two decades.
Ethiopia: the island of stability in the Horn of Africa or merely the least dysfunctional state of the region?
Today's Ethiopia seems to be one of the safest and fastest developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, thereby it could have a positive impact on neighboring countries. But at the same moment is placed 20th among the most dysfunctional states. What is a real picture of Ethiopian state?
According to the common perception of Ethiopia, held by outside observers, it is one of the most stable African countries. This view is strengthened by tourists who in large numbers visit Ethiopia every year, making their way to see historic route of ancient Amharic cities or the exotic tribes of the South. The state's capital itself with its modern airport and a new, modern district which is being constructed along the Bole street, makes a good impression on visitors. The very fact that in Addis Ababa are located the headquarters of the most important African regional organizations, including the African Union, and almost all diplomatic missions of the major countries of the world, reinforces good reputation of the Ethiopian state. It all seems to indicate that Ethiopia is one of the safest and fastest developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, on the best way of development, which due to its political stability may have a positive impact on neighboring countries, considered as ones of the least stable in the whole Africa (Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Eritrea). But is it a true picture of the country or maybe its condition is reflected in the latest Failed States Index 2012, prepared by internationally-recognized think tank, where Ethiopia is on the 20th place among the most dysfunctional countries of the world? Who's right and what kind of state actually Ethiopia is?
The author conducted field research in Ethiopia on the border with South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia during two research stays in the years 2010-2011.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.