Ethiopia: Eritrea Has A Problem With Djibouti


May 15,2008: The UN has –with good reason—focused on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border. It's a "frozen war" that could reignite. But Eritrea's recent squabble with Djibouti is another reminder that border disputes plague the Horn of Africa and, for that matter, most of sub-Saharan Africa. Yemen and Eritrea both claim the Hanish Islands in the Red Sea. The Hanish Islands sit in the middle of a major sea lane. Various rebel groups and Somali clans believe the entire Ogaden region should be part of Somalia and Eritrea – in order to undermine Ethiopia—supports many of these groups.

May 13, 2008: Eritrea said that the UN's contention that a complete removal of peacekeeping and observation teams from the Ethiopia-Eritrea border is "scaremongering." Eritrea believes the UN favors Ethiopia in its border dispute.

May 9, 2008: Eritrea denied that it has any border disagreements with Djibouti, after Djibouti claimed that Eritrea was massing troops along the Djibouti-Eritrea border, near the village of Doumeira. Attacking Djibouti would be a big mistake for Eritrea. Both the US and France have military bases in Djibouti. While the garrisons are small, they can be quickly reinforced. A fast, flawless Eritrean attack could conceivably take control of the US and French installations, but executing such an operation is a huge challenge for the best militaries. Eritrea is not in that league, particularly when Djibouti's forces are already on alert. US and French special operations troops in Djibouti, the French Foreign Legion, US Marines, and US-French airpower compound the problems an Eritrean offensive would face. And this is an intentional understatement.

May 7, 2008: And Ethiopia returns the favor. Eritrea has become a haven for guerrilla and resistance groups in Africa, particularly anti-Ethiopian groups. Now Ethiopia is promoting a "united front" of Eritrean "resistance groups." Thirteen Eritrean opposition groups have formed the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA). The EDA' s stated goal is a "popular uprising" in Eritrea.

May 6, 2008: Djibouti said that Eritrea soldiers entered Djibouti in late April and dug trenches. Djibouti accused Eritrea of border violations and positioning troops near the village of Doumeira.

April 30, 2008: The Ethiopian rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is predominantly an ethnic Somali and Sunni Muslim organization. The ONLF portrays Ethiopia's federal government as ethnic Tigrayans and Amharans who are predominantly Abyssinian Christians. This is true, to an extent. However, the ONLF's claim to represent the goals of all Ogadenis doesn't hold up. Like their fellow ethnic Somalis in Somalia, clan identity often (usually) trumps politics and religion. Many Ogaden locals also support the federal government. For example, the Wayteen and Balaad clans are "anti-ONLF." The Jedwaq tribe has also fought with ONLF rebels.


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