January 31, 2008: The fighting
continues in Somalia, where Ethiopian troops have been operating for 13 months.
Casualty figures have not been released, but reports from Mogadishu, where most
of the Ethiopian troops are, indicate at least a few dead and wounded each week.
The Ethiopians have been there nearly 60 weeks, so it appears they have
suffered more than 500 casualties. But the Ethiopian force in Somalia is not
large (about three percent of the 180,000 troops on active duty), and they have
the upper hand in the battle with Islamic radical groups they are fighting. The
big problem is that this violence may go on for years, because that's the way
these situations have played out in the past. Ethiopia is believed to be
getting some assistance (money, equipment, intelligence) from the United States
(which has a large counter-terrorism force based next to northern Somalia, in Djibouti).
Thus Ethiopia can continue its Somalia operation for as long as it needs to
January 30, 2008: The UN wants to
reduce its forces along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, where 1700 soldiers and
observers are still serving with UNMEE. Completely withdrawing the peacekeeping
force, however, would remove the international "tripwire" that separates the
two nations. Ethiopia and Eritrea continue to fight a proxy war in Somalia and
Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of supporting rebel forces operating in Ethiopia's
Ogaden region. Ethiopian and Eritrea forces still confront one another along
the border, particularly in the Badme region. Still, many diplomats express
increasing frustration with the stand-off. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary
Commission dissolved in November 2007 without getting a permanent agreement
between the two countries. Ethiopia never accepted the commission's decision to
award Badme to Eritrea. A 25-km wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) separates
Eritrean and Ethiopian forces. Both nations periodically move more troops to
the border, but neither country can afford the expense of another round of
fighting. This does not mean another border war is impossible, just that the
people running the two countries are constantly reminded by their bean counters
that another round of fighting would bring long term financial headaches, plus
the usual scolding from the UN and the international media.
January 25, 2008: Ethiopia claimed that
Eritrean forces fired on two Eritrean soldiers who were attempting to cross the
Ethiopian border and surrender to Ethiopian forces. Eritrea denied the
accusation and said that actually Ethiopian soldiers were "deserting to
January 20, 2008: The Ogaden National
Liberation Front (ONLF) appears to have two distinct wings. One wing favors
greater regional autonomy within Ethiopia for the Ogaden region. The other, the
"Somali faction," prefers the Ogaden join Somalia. The separatist faction gets
most of the attention from the police and army.