Ethiopia and Eritrea have recently signed a peace deal that ended two decades of hostility between the Horn African neighbors. Above and beyond the two countries, the peace agreement is expected to have greater impact on the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa, a region largely characterized by its vulnerability to conflicts and instability. While Horn African countries aspire to achieve economic integration through joint infrastructural projects, civil conflicts and conflicts between states including that of Ethiopia and Eritrea have been restraining progress. In fact, the absence of peace and security in the region has overshadowed the efforts to pursue economic integration.
And the recent peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea will have significant positive impact in containing conflicts and ensuring sustainable peace and stability in the Horn as experts tell The Ethiopian Herald.
Dessalegn Mana (PhD), Geography and Environmental Studies lecturer at Addis Ababa University (AAU) says the recent move by Ethiopia and Eritrea would improve the peace and security situation in the two countries and also the Horn of Africa as a whole.
If sustained, the recent diplomatic, peace and other related agreements would be essential inputs in solving economic, political and security issues in the region, Dessalegn says. Plus, the combination of Ethiopia’s economic and demographic advantage with Eritrea’s strategic position will have a vital role to improve the peace and security situation in the region.
It is believed that a lot of Ethiopian oppositions that opted for armed struggle were receiving support from Eritrea. And now, following the peace accord, they have decided to stop fighting and engage in a peaceful struggle. This is also one input in maintaining regional stability.
A growing economic cooperation between the two countries will play its own role for peace and stability to flourish in the region, he says adding the agreement would also help as a mechanism to maintain regional power balance.
Various countries are establishing military bases in the Horn of Africa to protect their national interests, and there is rivalry between different groups in doing so. And the peace agreement would have a paramount impact in challenging such tendencies.
Costantinos Berhe, Professor of Public Policy at AAU says the peace accord has a positive impact not only for Horn of Africa, but also for the Gulf region as the cooperation between the two countries would narrow the playing field for external forces to engage in the Red Sea territory.
Costantinos stresses that it is imperative that the two countries decided to end the ‘no war no peace situation’ and their military rivalry. Bedsides preventing proxy wars, the peace accord will allow them to take joint responsibility in maintaining peace in the region.
As to the professor, having peace with Eritrea enhances Ethiopia’s peacekeeping capacity to engage in regional peacekeeping missions. Eritrea could also join such peacekeeping initiatives.
“South Sudan is resolving its own problems and cooling down ethnic conflicts. With the support of other regional players, it is possible to achieve peace. There is also chance that al-Shabaab will be forced to come to the round table to negotiate and discuss with the Somalia government.”
The conflict between two countries and armed groups in the region which receive support from different parties have affected the effectiveness of IGAD in maintaining peace and stability in the Horn says Asnake Kefale (PhD) political science lecturer at AAU.
The peace agreement would not be sustainable without bringing about institutional change at regional level. “Hence, it is vital to carefully solve complicated issues of the past not to repeat same mistakes,” he advices.
According to him, looking at the root causes of the war is an important tool to come up with institutional response that can bring sustainable peace and stability.
The current momentum of peace agreement would have vital role in restoring peace and stability in horn and eastern Africa when it addresses the root causes of the war and is institutionalized, Asnake adds.
It seems that the new development is a source of hope for the region as it ends the two decades of hostility. This can have an impact in ending other hostilities and conflicts in the Horn of Africa.
BY TSEGAYE TILAHUN – Ethiopian Press Agency