Monday 30th of November 2015

news blog logo
news menu leftnews menu right

Kenya Backs Ogaden Peace Effort E-mail
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 17:56

Ogaden region of EthiopiaOgaden region of Ethiopia

By: David Arnold

Somalilandsun — One of the longest-running conflicts in Africa in the Somali-inhabited region of Ethiopia could be moving toward a resolution.

Peace talks broken off last year between the Ethiopian government and the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) may re-open in October, according to Kenyan negotiators.

Last year's talks, hosted in Nairobi by Kenyan government officials, were overshadowed by the death of Ethiopia's longtime Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi. They ended early without addressing substantive issues of a half-century of conflict.

"There was a sort of uncertainty at the top of Ethiopian leadership and about what they really wanted from these talks," said Cedric Barnes, International Crisis Group's Horn of Africa regional coordinator in Nairobi.

The driving force behind both negotiation efforts is a team of Kenyan officials who are ethnic Somalis led by a former State Minister for Defense and member of parliament representing Garissa County, Mohamed Yusuf Haji.

Kenya's special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Ali Bunow Korane, confirmed recently that the Ethiopian government and leadership of the ONLF have agreed to meet.

Despite recent reports of fighting near Jijiga, the administrative capital of the Ogaden, Kenya continues pushing for talks. "We're discussing possible negotiations in October," Korane said. The ONLF's chief negotiator, Abdirahman Mahdi, confirmed the Kenyan initiative.

"There's quite a bit of shuttle diplomacy going on," said Barnes, author of a new ICG report on the Ogaden conflict.

The Ogaden talks could bring an end to a decades-long conflict that has left a large region of Ethiopia, desperately in need of development, devastated and marginalized. But Barnes' report warns that success "requires unprecedented concessions from both sides."

After the World War II withdrawal of Italian forces, Ethiopia took possession of the Ogaden, a vast semi-arid land of shrubs and bare hills that became the southeastern quarter of Ethiopia. The majority of the 4.5 million population are ethnic Somalis whose Ogaadeni clan ties extend to major parts of Somalia and Kenya.

Although dates are not yet firm, Special Envoy Korane spoke optimistically of the impact they could have in the region. "I think settlement in the Ogaden could have an impact on some of the other problems of Somalis in the region."

A constitutional stumbling block

Last year's talks ended when the ONLF refused to accept the Ethiopia constitution as a pre-condition to talks because of Article 39, which addresses the right to secede.

"The constitution says they have the right to self-determination up to and including independence," said Edmond Keller, an Ethiopia scholar at the University of California at Los Angeles. "But it's sort of the old communist dictum: You have the right, but not to exercise it."

The two sides must confront the same issue in new talks, but "what we've heard is that both parties are looking for a work-around," said Barnes. "It's not a question of ONLF accepting it, or the government insisting."

"While I doubt that the Ethiopian government is prepared to accept independence or self-determination for the Ogaden region, I assume that greater regional autonomy is on the negotiating table,' former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn told the editor of Ogadentoday Press recently.

Mahdi argues that the single goal of the ONLF, which he helped to found in the 1970s, is to permit the Ethiopians of the Ogaden to determine their own political future. "The issue has been identity and legacy of 50 years of oppression."

"After the breakdown, there was a lot of campaigning to show the Somali people that they are part of Ethiopia," said Mahdi. "Many outsiders have been deluded by a lot of Ethiopian propaganda."

But war fatigue could overcome mutual distrust. "Two decades of deadly conflict ... have exhausted the local Ethiopian-Somali population sufficiently to push the ONLF back to the table," said the ICG report.

In addition to several divisions of Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) now stationed in the Ogaden, the government recruited thousands of local Somalis to form a Special Police Force stepping up military pressure on the ONLF. Both sides have been charged with abusing the civilian population by a 2010 Human Rights Watch report.

"Abuses have been committed by all sides," said Barnes. "Both sides have to reconcile that dire things have been done."

Pressure from the Somali diaspora

The research director of the Institute for Horn of Africa Studies in Minneapolis and a native of the Ogaden, Faisal Roble, accused the Ethiopian government of abuses but said the ONLF is hurt by weak leadership. "Frankly, the ONLF lacks leadership, the capacity to engage in international diplomacy ..."

Roble said that attitudes are changing on both sides of the Ethiopian conflict. Somalis in the Horn are seeing Ethiopia in a new light, said Roble.

"There is a new prime minister in Ethiopia, and they are asserting themselves as a regional broker in peace building," said Keller. "The central government has been reaching out to ethnic groups in the Somali region to find reasons for agreement."

Somalis outside the Ogaden are now changing their views of Ethiopia, Roble said.

"The Ethiopian leadership is not the traditional enemy they have known for years" and diaspora Somalis are putting pressure on the ONLF to reach a settlement, he said. Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalegne, unveiled in the administrative capital of Jijiga a statue of Sayyīd Muhammad 'Abd Allāh al-Hasan, the founder of the Pan-Somali movement. Similar monuments in Mogadishu and other towns in the region have been destroyed in clan warfare, said Roble.

Roble said Ethiopia is "opening its heart, at least, to the history of Somalis."



0 # AYA 2013-09-25 19:12
The peace talks must be included Dir Somali people that inhibit Hawd all the way to dire-dawa and north-eastern of Afar country. Ethiopia must rework in redistricting Dir region Of Somali-Ethiopia .The name Ogaden must be thrown out,because the Somali people in that region are not all Ogadens. Let all Somali tribes sit on the table to hammer out their political future.Other wise ,the talks between Ogadens and Ethiopia would create other oppressions among the Somalis people.Somali people where ever they are would like to see peace in the region,but it should carry the signature,and acceptance of all it's Somali inhabitants not Ogadens only.
-3 # AYA 2013-09-25 23:01
Ethiopia should know Mohamed yusuf Haji represent Ogadens only not all the Somalis in the eastern part of Somali-Ethiopia region.One must also understand that Kenya is doing this peace talks for it's interest only not Ethiopian and all Somalis interest.We need a broad based peace on the horn, not a silly arrangements of one party interest as Juba land buffer Zone.
-3 # mohamed cheers 2013-09-26 02:35
The FGS Somalia,Djibout i and Somaliland are all troubled by the Ogaden0ONLF0Abs ame policies and political warmongering. Fully support your comments. The renegade crisis of Ogaden0ONLF, Absame NFD of Kenya supported by renegade Puntland would only serve to pervert further the precarious desporic anarchies allover the 5star AlSomaal dire circumstances.< br 0>Therefore the EPRDF and the AU HQS in Addisababa should be able to deal with these delicate critical issues with greater diligence.
-3 # Mr. Democracy 2013-09-26 02:56
If the ogaden clan start sharing the political offices and the wealth of the somali region of ethiopia with other somali clans then their is great potential for that place. If ogaden continues to discriminate against other somali clans then soon somali region of ethiopia will be a clan battle field like somalia.

There is huge trade between Somaliland and somali region of ethiopia so I think its time for our government and president to invite president Abdi Iley to Somaliland for talks.
0 # somliman 2013-09-27 23:40
ONLF dont care about clans. Why would to (real) brothers shoot when Liyu Police vs ONLF. There was a woman in Wsrdheer who lost 4 of her sons in one battle. Two from ONLF and two from Liyu Police. If this was a clan issue why dpnt they support Ilay? Somalis need to educate themselves..
+2 # Mr. Democracy 2013-09-26 03:07
The Ogaden clan is not just a bunch of soldiers commiting crimes like most somalis in Somaliland and Somalia think and are. Those were the ones Siad Barre used against the somali people. There is a new group of leaders of Ogadeni descent that are more educated and aware of the need for justice inorder to progress.

Lets not forget also that the great ogadeni umar jees of the spm was an ally of the Snm in fighting siad barres dictatorship. r 0>
I think its time we in Somaliland and us Isaaqs in particular bury the hatchet agains the ogaden and start off a fresh relationship with them. They are after all closely related to Somalilanders t0e marriage and culture.
-3 # mohamed cheers 2013-09-26 04:37
@Mr. Democracy,
Listen, Djibouti,Somali land, SLD Hawd reserved annexed buffer zones peninsula, and the 5th Ethiopian Somali Western State share common interests in peace, security, stability progress and prosperity, in all norms of livelihoods.
From time immemorial, the indigenous of these Countries were bound together.
Therefore, on the basis of these inalienable rights, it's in the interests of the Ogaden0ONLF to rethink the 50years futile warmongering s0ggles and come into terms with the realities by sharing the powers with their other equally important brethern who never wanted to be parts of the Ogaden0ONLF insurgency. The Oil explorations and other developments investments could benefit all the aforementioned Somalis. While good contacts should be maintained between Somaliland and the K5, The real meaningful contacts should always be between the Hargeisa and EPRDF Addisababa Govts, so that all matters of general interests are fully taken care of
for the mutual benefits of all.
-3 # AYA 2013-09-26 03:19
Thanks Mr,M.Cheers.Som alis in region 5 need to share not only wealthy,but power.I said, "the power" that is one way to prevent unrest and prosper.We all know what happened in Somaliland when one tribe dominate the military of the former Somali Republic.
0 # Heybe 2013-09-26 21:39
Likewise Isaq is dominating Somaliland military today, we all know that leads to the disintegration of former Somaliland to be much like the former Somali Republic
-2 # AYA 2013-09-26 08:27
Do Ahmed Omer Jees make a deal with the SNM in the final days to accelerate the disintegrate the faqash?.Yes, he did,but it was too little too late.Yes, it was.Mr,Jees jumped the ship,after he realized the end is near.He could save more lives,instead one person out of fifty thousand massacred.
-2 # Discriminated 2013-09-26 11:11
Did you know that the Dhulbahante inhabited area of kilil 5 is even less developed then isaaq and gadabursi areas of kilil 5? Not a single project was implemented in the dhulbahante area. I think all Somaliland related clans should unite in kilil 5 and push for development assistance and political posts.
0 # Abdtidon 2013-09-26 17:13
Why not move to somaliland,, I know Isaaq discriminates the rest there too
0 # Martian 2013-09-26 15:50
I come from mar but I wonder how foolish Somalis are. No one on planet earth cares about your petty clannish squables. no only planet earth, but the whole Universe is tired of your lowly mentalities.
We from the General council think that the whole somali peninsula needs to be return to colonial protectorate under Cubas or North Koria so that you learn to love each other and appreciate the freedom you are squandering or may even better Under Ethiopian colonial0le for a century.
What a bunch of Morons
+2 # Heybe 2013-09-26 15:52
We must not deal with Ogaden k5, we should bypass and directly deal with EPRDF. Ogaden do not want peace and trade with Somaliland but the tigre do.
0 # Ghion 2013-09-26 16:18
EPRDF already gets what it wants from you on its own terms, you are already a vassal state to Ethiopia, so stop the pretence, you cannot deal with your masters, we own you and get what we want from without asking it, so stop using our name here. don't put Ethiopia in your Somali problems
-2 # mohamed cheers 2013-09-26 16:31
C'mon you sure too naive to understand the big stakes. If the EPRDF uses your mentality, so be it okay?
0 # Abdtidon 2013-09-26 18:08
To be used and abused by Ethiopia for somaliland that is a badge of honor. They want u to use Berbera sea port for free lesta they paid as porters all is good and happy.
0 # Abraham 2013-09-26 20:21
We are no major differences between the brotherly Isaaq and Ogaden clans in Ethiopia. The only problem was Abdi Iley and his murderous Liu police mafia.

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.

Bridging Investment Gap in Somaliland



You are not alone

We have 1212 guests online

For details visit Salaamfinancial