Cross Border Complications Abound
September 3, 2006: Kenya is demanding that Ethiopia do something about the Oromo tribesmen raiding into Kenya. In the last week, several thousand Kenyans have been raided by armed Oromos from Ethiopia, and much livestock was stolen. Ethiopia also has a problem with armed groups of Oromo separatists. Nearly half the Oromo are Moslem, and these, along with many Christian Oromo, want to establish an independent Oromo state in southern Ethiopia. Oromo are divided on this subject, and many others as well. This includes whether it is OK to raid non-Oromo tribes across the border in Kenya.
September 1, 2006: Eritrea has arrested "UN staff members" who were trying to "smuggle" people out of Eritrea. Eritrea claimed that UN employees had been "bribed" to transport people. A UN spokesman said Eritrea had detained one UN employee. The UN protested the detention Eritrea has been harassing UN personnel and UN ceasefire monitors for over a year as part of its campaign to force Ethiopia to recognize the boundary commission's decision to award the Badme area to Eritrea.
An Ethiopian rebel group reported that 28 Ethiopian soldiers defected from a military garrison in the town of Bilcile.
August 30, 2006: Ethiopia reported that the Ethiopian peacekeeping contingent in Burundi had moved back to Ethiopia. Ethiopia had kept a small peacekeeping force in Burundi since 2003 as part of the international peacekeeping force organized to support the peace agreement that began the process of ending Burundi's civil war.
Eritrean government representatives met with representatives from the government of Djibouti to discuss the situation in Somalia. An Eritrean spokesman said that Ethiopian troops were in Somalia.
August 29, 3006: Kenya reported that cattle raiders crossed the border from Ethiopia. The number of cattle raids appears to have increased in the last four months. In the last 90 days over 100 in the cattle raids and various "tribal attacks." The latest attack occurred in Kenya's northern Marsabit district. The Kenyan government described the raiders as an Oromo "militia." Kenyan security forces caught up with the raiders and reported that 17 Oromo were killed. Kenya intends to deploy more police and police reservists in Marsabit. Drought has struck the region and some people may be turning to theft as a means of survival. However, Ethiopia has also complained of increasing "Islamist" activity in the area. It may not be a total coincidence that the attacks have increased since Ethiopia began confronting Somalia's Islamic Courts movement in early May.
Ethiopian troops are deployed between the Ethiopian border and the Somali town of Baidoa (seat of Somalia's transitional federal government). Ethiopia only admits that is has "trainers" working with the Somali transitional federal government. A spokesman for Somalia's Puntland region (a semi-autonomous area in Somalia) said the 250 Ethiopian military trainers are in the town of Galkayo. The trainers are working with Puntland's local security forces.
Kenyan and Ethiopian government representatives issued a statement that said Kenya and Ethiopia support the formation of a "peace operation" in Somalia to "safeguard" political gains made by Somalia. If that sounds like code language for protecting the Somali transitional federal government, well, it is.
August 26, 2006: Somalia's transitional federal government accused Eritrea of shipping arms to Somalia's Islamic Courts militia. The Somali government also claimed (without substantiation) that 1500 Eritrean troops had boarded three ships in the Eritrea port of Massawa and that one of the ships was currently docked at a port north of Mogadishu. The report did not provide further details. The accusation of actual Eritrean troop involvement in Somalia, however, is telling. In many ways, the Ethiopian-Eritrean war had moved from the disputed Ethiopia-Eritrea border region to Somalia.