Ethiopia: Staying Right With China


April 27, 2007: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) said they did not intend to hold hostages. The ONLF rebels will release the seven Chinese workers it took prisoner during a recent attack on a Chinese oil facility in Ethiopia. The ONLF reminded everyone that it considered the Ogaden region of southern Ethiopia "a war zone". The rebels are ethnic Somalis who do not want oil or mineral exploration in the Ogaden. The ONLF wants the region to be part of Somalia, and considers the oil drilling as theft from the Ogaden people. The attack sends an economic message to China and other nations interested in similar projects in Ethiopia. China is active throughout Africa, in searching for and buying oil and mineral resources. Chinese workers have been taken hostage in Nigeria. Chinese deals with Sudan and Zambia have come under scrutiny.

Ethiopia and Somalia have been fighting over who controls the Ogaden for generations. Until the 1960s, there was no Somali nation, and Ethiopia had long controlled the Ogaden, in order to keep Somali raiders from getting into more populated parts of Ethiopia. Ogaden is mostly arid shrub, not worth much. But now there's oil, something worth fighting for. But no one wants to offend the Chinese, who are one of the few industrialized nations that is willing to work with anyone, if the price is right. This makes good will with the Chinese a valuable thing to have. Eritrea will have to do some fancy dancing to avoid the ire of the Chinese after killing or kidnapping over a dozen of them.

April 25, 2007: Ethiopian troops continued searching for missing Chinese and Ethiopian workers captured in an attack in Ogaden.

April 24, 2007: Some two hundred ONLF rebels attacked a Chinese oil project in southern Ethiopia (the Ogaden region). Ethiopia believes this was done in cooperation with Eritrea (which is probably true). Ethiopia accused Eritrea of prosecuting a proxy war against Ethiopia via the ONLF and of undermining negotiations with less hostile groups in the Ogaden. The attack left 65 Ethiopian troops and nine Chinese workers dead. Seven Chinese workers were taken prisoner. The firefight at the site (operated by the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation) began in the morning and lasted six hours. The initial attack focused on the hundred Ethiopian soldiers protecting the facility. The ONLF said the Chinese were killed by a munitions explosion during the attack. The ONLF insist they were only looking to harm Ethiopian soldiers, not Chinese.

The autonomous (and sometimes independent) Somali region of Puntland (north Somalia, right on the "elbow" of Somalia) claims that Eritrea is causing trouble between Puntland and the Republic of Somaliland. The Republic of Somaliland is another separatist region of Somalia (located west of Puntland). Puntland and Somaliland have skirmished over their border area but have also promised to cooperate on trade and infrastructure issues. The two regions also cooperate with Ethiopia - which is anathema to Eritrea.

April 23, 2007: The US accused Eritrea of supporting new rebel groups inside Somalia. There is little debate that this is occurring. Eritrea has decided to aid Islamic and clan groups inside Somalia in hopes of continuing the "proxy war" and bogging Ethiopia down in Somalia.

April 22, 2007: Eight Ethiopians, who were kidnapped in March in the Afar region (northern Ethiopia), have been released inside Eritrea. Five Europeans were taken hostage at the same time and were also released inside Eritrea. Ethiopia has suggested Eritrea was involved in the kidnappings but that isn't necessarily the case. Afar nomads move back and forth across the border region.


Article Archive

Ethiopia: Current 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close