Ethiopia: Eritrea Plans Its Revenge

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January18, 2007: Eritrea was surprised by the speed, ferocity, and size of Ethiopia's attack on Somalia. Evidence continues to appear that this was the case. Ethiopia carefully planned its attack. The rapid movement of Ethiopian forces to Mogadishu and then turning south indicate Ethiopia's logistical preparations were also particularly good, especially for an army in the Horn of Africa conducting offensive operations. Did the Ethiopian military get logistical advice from the US? Probably - and if it did, clearly the advice was good. Some of the "conspiracy theorist" press is pointing out meetings held by Ethiopian military officers and US officers in early December 2006. Cooperation for the December-January offensive had to begin well before that. The truth is, the US and Ethiopia have been sharing intelligence data for years. Since the fall of the Communist dictatorship that long ruled Ethiopia, the US has been providing humanitarian aid and military assistance. It is arguable that Ethiopia has provided more intelligence for the US than the other way around - at least until May or June 2006 when Ethiopia began gearing up for an attack on the Islamic Courts militia in Somalia. That's when US imagery and electronic intelligence became very valuable for identifying militia units, troops concentrations, and other targets.

January 17, 2007: The UN said that it would reduce the peacekeeping force on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border. At present the UN has 2300 troops in or near the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) which separates Ethiopia and Eritrea in the disputed regions of their border. That number will fall to 1700. The troop reduction may take place sooner rather than later (as in the next few weeks). The UN mandate for the Ethiopia-Eritrea mission must be renewed by January 31.

Kenya and Ethiopia issued a joint statement asking African nations to provide peacekeeping troops for Somalia. Ethiopia insists it will withdraw its military forces from Somalia "within weeks." An African Union regional security meeting is scheduled for January 29 and no doubt peacekeeping contingents for Somalia will be discussed at conference.

January 12, 2007: Eritrea warned the US of "dangerous consequences" because of US air strikes on Islamic Courts militia positions in Somalia. What those consequences might be was not made clear. Eritrea has in fact been a de facto US ally in the War on Terror, but when Ethiopia failed to implement the border changes required by the "binding agreement," Eritrea expected the US and the UN to force Ethiopia to comply. When the US and UN did not, Eritrea turned on both. The Ethiopian and Somali transitional government victories in Somalia have been a clear defeat for Eritrea. Eritrea might consider letting radical Islamic terrorists operate from its territory. That would be a stupid mistake, but angry governments do stupid things. As it is, Eritrea has little interest in radical Islamists and the Islamists utopian goals. The Islamists are only useful as tactical allies in its war with Ethiopia.

 

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