Politics, Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Horn of Africa:
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.
By Dr. Axel Klein, IFAA
In response to the deteriorating political situation across the African continent, the Institute For African Alternatives has sought to keep researchers and professionals working in Africa abreast of developments with an annual review on the State of War and Peace in Africa. In the course of collating this reference work, we began to identify commonalties in the different theatres of conflict, which allowed for the elaboration of general principles and drew us into dialogue with a wide body of research on conflict studies. In the process we found it increasingly valuable to contrast our own experience of several countries in the Horn with the prevailing models in conflict research. In response to the growing influence of cultural determinism and a Malthusian influenced ‘environmentalism’, we set out to first denaturalise the interpretation of African conflict.
Conflict, and consequently conflict resolution has to be squarely situated within the social process, and needs to be framed within the workings of the international political economy. External agencies involved in the Horn are aware of the importance of this knowledge gap, but should also become conscious of the controversy surrounding their interventions. The role of outsiders remains ambivalent. While each faction welcomes foreign assistance such interference, even the best intentioned, is not always conducive to furthering peace and reconstruction. It is the conclusion of this report that the most profitable point of engagement is with local peace initiatives determined upon breaking the cycle of violence and counter violence among given communities.
We have adopted a regional approach to this report because of the interrelationship between the different conflict scenarios. Prior to the destabilisation of Zaire, cross-border interventionism was practised nowhere in Africa as blatantly as in the Horn. This adds grist to the mills of those arguing for a comprehensive regional settlement. We believe that while the nefarious practice of cross-border destabilisation must be halted, there is hope for endogenous peace initiatives. Read more