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Ethiopia: Prospects for Peace in Ogaden
Source: International Crisis Group
Nearly a year after the talks facilitated by Kenya between the Ethiopian government and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels stalled in October 2012, there are signs that the process may restart. Ostensibly, it was the ONLF’s refusal to recognise the Ethiopian constitution that halted the initial dialogue, but that issue covers more fundamental divides, and these remain. Nevertheless there are solid reasons why this is a promising time for both parties, as well as neighbouring countries and other international partners, to try to renew meaningful talks. Two decades of deadly conflict – especially an intense five-year, relatively successful government counter-insurgency campaign – have exhausted the local Ethiopian-Somali population sufficiently to push the ONLF back to the table. Likewise, Addis Ababa’s determination to accelerate economic growth, especially by exploiting the resources of its lowland peripheries, not least hydrocarbons, also argues for sustainable peace.
Ethiopia’s commitment to the talks is important but undermined by a parallel strategy of piecemeal deals with disgruntled ONLF members. Concessions to the rebels risk alienating the “loyalist” stronghold that the federal government has built up within the majority clan – the Ogaadeni – in the Ogaden region, formally called the Somali National Regional State (SNRS). These tactics have proved useful in the counter-insurgency campaign, but a meaningful peace process will have to address the clan tensions and exacerbated intra-communal violence they have also deepened.
The drive for peace has suffered from the death in August 2012 of longstanding Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who took a strong personal interest in resolving the Ogaden conflict and had the power to negotiate a deal. Though his successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, is a potential dove, he lacks the political strength to challenge the military-security hawks who led the counter-insurgency operations and are, at best, sceptical of the need for a deal with the weakened ONLF.
The ONLF’s leadership lacks a unified vision of the talks’ outcome, shifting along a spectrum of options, between reconciliation with the state in return for significant autonomy and outright secession. Though the Ethiopian constitution formally allows for secession, it is not a real option for the government and is complicated by pan-Somali irredentist dreams, driven by the Ogaadeni clan’s trans-national reach. In its attempts to guard against the subversion of its cause by wider Somali interests, the ONLF has been forced to look for allies further afield, especially Eritrea, whose invaluable tactical support has embroiled an internal Ethiopian issue in wider regional rivalries. Unless its regional relations, especially with Eritrea but also with Somalia, improve, Addis Ababa will continue to view the Ogaden issue through a national security lens.
Kenya’s involvement in the peace talks is based on security cooperation with Ethiopia, especially over Somali issues, as well as growing aspiration to increase bilateral economic ties. Trans-national clan links also pushed it to take on facilitation, led by a team of Kenyan Ogaadenis, including a government minister, two parliamentarians and an ex-civil servant. However, Nairobi was distracted by its March 2013 election, which partly contributed to loss of momentum in the process. The team has now had its mandate renewed by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, but its task is complicated by the growing instability in Kenya’s Somali counties and the Kenyan military intervention (under the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM) in neighbouring southern Somalia – two regions dominated by the Ogaadeni clan.
Balancing Ogaadeni interests in the three neighbouring states would make it more possible in the longer term to build sustainable regional peace. The international community – traditional donors and new economic actors interested in Ethiopia’s resource-rich peripheries alike – should give their attention to renewed talks. Development aid and economic partnerships could significantly improve prospects for Ethiopian-Somali communities exhausted by years of counter-insurgency, marginalisation and political violence. But the peace talks can only transform sub-regional economic integration if they address fundamental governance issues – especially resolution of historical Ethiopian-Somali grievances.
A meaningful peace process requires unprecedented concessions from both sides and, potentially, enhancement of Kenya’s role from facilitator to guarantor, as well as the channelling of technical support through the regional peace and security organisation, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). To improve the prospects of a new round of talks, the parties could consider a number of options:
a greater role for Kenya’s good offices in light of its shared security concerns with Ethiopia and the shared stakes of its Ogaadeni facilitators for regional peace. IGAD could also conceivably play a role, especially through its Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism’s (CEWARN) Rapid Response Fund designed to prevent and mitigate pastoralism-related conflict;
shared acknowledgement of the post-1991 devolved administration’s achievements, especially the investments of the last five years, and of the potential for further reforms in the regional government (in partnership with the existing SNRS administration), particularly if a balance is maintained between ensuring security and pursuing much needed development; again, IGAD’s technical programs on pastoralism could be supportive;
a potential role for both traditional clan- and state-based justice in accounting for crimes committed during the conflict and achieving reconciliation within Ogaadeni sub-clans and with other Somali clans, perhaps including a commission of inquiry, led by neutral Ethiopian and Kenyan elders, into the 50-year legacy of conflict in the region;
commitment to greater transparency of the trade and customs regime in SNRS, including creative concessions, eg, incentives to pay duty on cross-border Somali trade with Kenya and Somaliland; and
recognition of the federal government’s authority over oil and natural gas concessions, but also shared commitment to public scrutiny of exploration’s impact on pastoral livelihoods and consultation on regional social and economic development if commercial exploitation starts.
If Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) can claim to be “True Ethiopians", I don’t see a reason why ONLF fighting for the right of Ogadeni people cannot be Ethiopian if given the chance.
The Somali region is bigger than Tigray region, has larger population, and It also has more natural resources than rocky, dry Tigray. Therefore, if having a liberation Front is good for minority Woyanes, it should be good for Somali Ethiopian too. At least ONLF is not plotting to land lock Ethiopia like Woyanes did 20 years ago.
Not that I am advocating violence, but one thing is clear from this news. TPLF is willing to talk only to those holding Guns. You don’t see them talking to any opposition at home or abroad. Peaceful demonstration means nothing for ex-bush men, as was demonstrated by the recent massacre of peaceful demonstrators in the streets of Addis Ababa and elsewhere.
These are Somali who came as refugee in late 70 and 80 with help of Red cross, UNHCR etc and settled there. Now, look at what they call them selves. OGADEN LIBRATIONS . Hill with these illegal invaders from Somalia. There are now more than 200000 Somali refugees in that region getting a modern shelter by scandinavian countries to settle there and guess what they claim in few months. A mosque , a radical teaching at schools and preaching hate towards Ethiopia . In 10 years time ,their children’s will claim An independent of where they are settling now. This stupid govt. Let the so called charities to build houses and everything in Ethiopia soil to settle and plant a future bomb.
In the ONLF case ,for the Agazi bandits is like the kind of the “it’s the biter bit” comedia . Afterall what the legitimacy of these bandits who by the past despised the words “National Unity ” and Patriotism . Wonder if they really understand the meanings of the contents of their own Fake Constitution specially article 39 .
As said our dear elders “Be lekosut esat melesso mekatel ayekerem"…LOL !!!!!
woyyane never sit on the table unless the gun is beside the opposition
You had guns and half a million soldiers 20 years ago and you still got crushed. ONLF will not put you back in power so get over it.
unlike onlf, TPLF never denied it is an Ethiopian actually it is Ethiopia. you can not talk about ethiopia without the great state of tigray. on the other hand Onlf never claimed it is an ethiopian actually they were and are fighting to destroy ethiopia. tplf is building ethiopia while onlf tries to ruin the country brick by brick. actually it is tplf who saved your coward ass from being kicked by onlf and olf. it is tplf who kept ethiopia intact despite your prediction of disintegration. in short there would not be a self respecting amhara without the mighty TPLF.
What the hell are you talking?
If you want to show your displeasure
against what Weyane is doing in Ethiopia
tell The Ethiopian people how u would have
brought a better development show them
other that crying behind the door is
Ye Set Sira
PROTEST TO NAZRET’S NAME USE OGADEN
We the population of majority of Ethiopian Somali Region are protesting
and asking Nazet website to give a apoligize about the name calling of Ethiopian Somali region.
We are tribes of HAWIYE AND DIR.
DIR: GURGURA,SAMAROON,OBO,AKISHA, GURRE,FIQI-MUHUMUD, ISSA.
The is more than 32 Somali tribes living in Ethiopian Somali region, So, by ignoring existences of all those population and naming whole region to only OGADEN who are one small tribe among us, is an insult and abomination.
We did not know if you are doing this in out of ignorances or interntionaly, which are both wrong.
We hop you will apologize and stop doing this political academically incorrect term.
Thank you God bless Ethiopia
Erst die Armut bekämpfen,
dann das Maul aufmachen !!!
Ali Alias ,you forget the Isas and Isaacs claninc groups .It’s not Nazret.com who named Ethiopian Somalis as Ogadeneses ,but the ONLF movement itself .Afterall the majority of the clanic members are living in this region than the other places of Ethiopia .You stink more an Agazi cadre than a Somali Speaking Ethiopian Guy .Of course GOD BLESS UNITED AND FREE ETHIOPIA !!!!
If you don’t fight that’s what happening on you dude! The Ogadenis are fought against Ahmara gay king,the Derg and they never surrendering to the current regime of the woyane. But we rather fight until we achieve our self determination.Well,my friend that’s why their name OGADEN was became a famous one.Thus, I would be suggesting you that you should be standing for your rights and “Fight against oppression” instead of that you are getting busy how to sabotage and espying the brave men of the Ogaden.
This is very good news peace come first we must learn from past and move to win win solution.(Nebed Nebed forever).
To this Idiot protesting to nazret about this article. the article is from International crisis group, you moron.Read first. your hate towards the Ogaden doesn’t mean nothing in these discussions.in reallity ogaden is only major clan known in ethiopia academically, and polically. I checked all names you listed as Ethiopian Somali clans, majority of them live in Somalia. in the New Ethiopiawinet movement, Ogaden is a federal state of Ethiopia not a clan, plus if you are really Ethiopian and care about it,we don’t want state of somalia in ethiopia. somalia is already a neighbor country, if they wanna join ethiopia they are our cousin and we will welcome them.
To C\’est moi senait [Visitor]
Everybody in ethiopia knows who is invader.who is refuge.
You have to SPEAK AND WRITE somali if you want job in my country,otherwise stay in your kilil.
Ogadenis if they do not want to live in Peace. You can’t be Ethiopia’s guests no more. You have to go back to Kenya, Uganda or Congo wherever you came from before you settled in Ethiopia.
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