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Ethiopia: Defining Terror
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March 4, 2012: Kenyan Army (Kenya Defense Forces) units operating in Somalia (as part of Operation Kinda Nchi) will soon be assigned to the African Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM. However, Kenyan officials pointed out that the AMISOM mandate only runs through October 31, 2012. A senior Kenyan military officer indicated that Kenya may withdraw its forces from Somalia after that date.

March 3, 2012: The Ethiopian government continues to jail members of the opposition coalition group, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK). The Ethiopian government is using anti-terror laws to jail opponents and journalists who are critical of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front party. There is a lot of evidence that the government used the anti-terror laws to silence freedom of expression. Opposition leaders are being physically threatened. In mid-February a senior leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJP, a member of the MEDREK coalition) was injured after being attacked by another prisoner while incarcerated in a government prison.

March 1, 2012: Demographers estimate that Ethiopia will have a population of 100 million people by 2020.

February 29, 2012: Ethiopia and Kenya have signed a deal to begin construction of a new railroad that will connect the Kenyan port of Lamu to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The new rail line will be called the LAPSSET Corridor, LAPSSET being an acronym for Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport. Obviously South Sudan is part of the deal. Both Ethiopia and South Sudan are landlocked.

February 25, 2012: Ethiopia continues to deploy troops to the disputed Abyei area (between Sudan and South Sudan). The Ethiopian soldiers are serving with UNISFA (United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei). So far just over 3,800 troops have deployed, with around 80 of the troops classified as military observers. UNISFA has 4,200 troops (a brigade) plus 50 policemen. The UN has praised the Ethiopian contingent for helping stabilize the situation in the region. However, South Sudan stated that Dinka Ngok tribesmen from Abyei are still afraid to return because of threats from Sudanese troops, pro-Sudan militias, and the pro-Sudan Misseriya tribe.

February 23, 2012: The Somali town of Baidoa is now securely in the hands of Somali forces loyal to the Transitional National Government (TNG). Ethiopian armored and infantry units helped the pro-TNG forces drive out Al Shabaab militiamen and the Ethiopian units remain in the area. Al Shabaab threatened to launch guerrilla attacks against the Ethiopian-TNG force.

Eritrea insisted that Kenya’s attack into southern Somalia had undermined the Somali peace process and increased instability. Eritrea asked that Somalia’s neighbors pull their forces out of the Mogadishu area.

February 22, 2012: Ethiopian and Somali Transitional National Government (TNG) forces took the southwestern Somali town of Baidoa. Al Shabaab had controlled the town for almost three years. An Ethiopian task force of some fifty vehicles (at least 20 of them tanks) was spotted inside Baidoa, which is a regional trading and transportation hub.

The UN Security Council voted to increase the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia (UNISOM) to 17,731 soldiers. This figure will include Kenyan Army troops already operating in southern Somalia.

February 21, 2012: An Ethiopian mobile task force, backed by tanks, launched an attack on the Somalia town of Baidoa. The task force had been spotted by several Somali civilians after it seized the town of Kurteele.

February 19, 2012: The Ogaden National Liberation front (ONLF) accused the Ethiopian Army of attacking civilians in the Ogaden region. The ONLF said army units supported by a police militia force killed ten farmers in the Gunagado district villages of Madheedh and Abshir. There was no independent confirmation of ONLF claims.

February 18, 2012: Ethiopia is touting the regional diplomatic support its efforts in Somalia are receiving. Bragging about this regional, multi-lateral support is intended to deflect criticism from Eritrea and Somali radical organizations like Al Shabaab that Ethiopia is pursuing its own imperial ambitions or that Ethiopia is merely a front for the U.S., the European Union, or the United Nations. Some media reports have touted the regional and international security cooperation angle as new diplomacy. It isn’t really. In September 2006 the African Union voted to create IGASOM, the East African Intergovernmental Authority Peace Support Mission in Somalia. The political core of the efforts was the East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which includes Kenya and Ethiopia. Eritrea is also a member but it was suspended in 2007. Djibouti and Uganda are also members and they have troop contingents serving with the current AU peacekeeping force. The UN approved IGASOM in December 2006. In early 2007 the United States pursued diplomatic efforts to insure IGAD support for Somalia’s Transitional National Government.

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