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Somalia between Hope and Xenophobia


The Relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia is marred by distrust, animosity and war. Suspicion of neighbouring expansionism and political extremism is deeply rooted in both countries. One of the main conflicts was boundary disputes over the Ogaden regions and it goes back as 1948 where the land has been granted to Ethiopia by Great Britain. Somali disgruntlement with this decision has led to the 1964 and 1977 invasion attempts of Ethiopia with the hopes of taking control of the Ogaden to create a Greater Somalia.

The Conflicts between Ethiopia and Somalia are not limited to the 20th-21st Centuries. Wars between Somalia, or its precursor Islamic states, and Ethiopia, stretch back to the15th century. For example, Ahmed Gurey "the left handed' was a 15th Century Islamic leader popular in Somali culture for his jihad against the Ethiopians during the rise of the Adal Sultanate. Therefore, painful living history, oral and cultural traditions, long-standing ethnic divisions and sectarian differences lay between the two nations and continue to fuel the conflict.

Today Ethiopia is on Somali soil, supporting the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG). No doubt that this brings back memories of enmity and tension between the two closely related people. Nonetheless, most Somalis are suspicious of Ethiopia and view it as an invading force and an infringement to their sovereignty. There are rumors circulating of Ethiopia wanting future access to the sea by open boarder relations with the TFG and American-European hidden economic and political interest in the country. But these are only rumours which cannot be substantiated. Somalis should not allow themselves to be consumed on unknown matters that may hinder their forward progression to peace and nation building.

The current circumstances shows that Somalis have two choices after the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) have been defeated by the (TFG) backed Ethiopian troops. The first choice is characterized by hope and compromise in effort to create a lasting peace and security in the country once and for all. The second is the usual xenophobic and self-destructing choice that has left the country in anarchy and disorder and made it "the poster child for the concept of failed states."

The first choice; whether one agrees or disagrees with the US-Ethiopian intervention; all concur that the fragile TFG must be made to work, lest Somalia fall back into a state of collapse and chaos. The current situation in Somalia presents the best opportunity for peace and nation-building in the 16 years of lawlessness and bloodshed. Despite minor differences within the clan politics and US-Ethiopian presumed interests; Somalis need to focus on their own interest and support the TFG in hope of establishing a functional government that is inclusive and represents all aspects of Somali society.

The alternative choice for Somalis is to; ignorantly and out of unreasonable fear, fight and protest for the immediate departure of Ethiopia and upset the deployment of international aid and troops. This will in fact undermine the peace process, weaken the TFG's ability to govern and close the only "window of opportunity" that has been left open from the current circumstance. Thus further isolating Somalia from the international scene and cause it to fall back to the mayhem and clan divisions that plagued the country for the past decade and half. Clearly, this option is no ones first choice but almost everyone's second choice.

By: Ahmed A Kamil
ahmed.abd@sympatico.ca

 


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