The Greater Horn of Africa, Causes and Conflicts
The Horn of Africa, Northeast Africa and sometimes Somali Peninsula, is a peninsula in East Africa that protrudes hundreds of kilometers’ into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. The countries of Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia encompass the Horn of Africa (Wikipedia, 2011). Why is there so much conflict in the Horn of Africa, what are the causes these conflicts, what are the costs involved, and how does this affect the interest of the United States of America?
The causes of armed conflict in the Greater Horn of Africa are numerous and range from individuals to groups to structural inequality and injustice. The quality of governance within a few states in the Greater Horn of Africa has improved in the last decade; however, state structures are eroding. The geopolitical map is being rearranged in the Horn of Africa as new states are formed; Enitrea has won independence, Somaliland has declared it, and southern Sudanese rebels seek it. The power within the Greater Horn of Africa is being redistributed to the point where group power relationships are far more stable. Some systematic causes of conflict are structural conditions which include external factors as the legacies of colonial and Cold War policies and internal factors as geophysical conditions, resource scarcity, poverty, socio-economic inequalities, and ethnic divisions (“Costs and Causes,” n.d.). The primary cause for conflict in the Greater Horn of Africa is competition over declining resources. Resource scarcity is the fundamental economic problem of having humans who have unlimited wants and needs in a world with limited resources (Wikipedia, 2011). In the Northern Tier countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan the natural resource base, topography, and climate are contributing factors to conflict. The Horn contains the largest grouping of pastoralists in the world; pastoralists are people who depend on livestock for their livelihood. They inhabit parts of the world where the potential for crop cultivation is limited due to lack of rainfall, steep terrain, or extreme temperatures. Land tenure remains a critical issue, a “ticking time bomb,” according to a Somali aid. Land tenure led to Siad Barre’s overthrow and remains at the root of much of the fighting in Lower Shabelle and the Juba Valley. Omar and de Waal confirm: “Clan-based militia have ravaged the country, but the commonest reason for their wars is land.” (“Costs and Causes,” n.d.)
There is a definite impact on the countries which are in conflict. Conflict affects the human toll for individuals and families; it makes life a constant process of adapting to basic insecurity and permanent crisis for the generations caught up in war. Wars displace whole populations and make millions homeless. The number of refugees increased from 2.5 million in 1970 to 17.5 million in 1992. An additional 24...