Ethiopia: The Corridor


October 1, 2008: The US is once again encouraging Ethiopia to "fully implement" the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission decision. That is code for giving the disputed Badme area to Eritrea.

Ethiopia is getting tired of maintaining over 5,000 troops in Somalia. While the U.S. provides cash to pay for this, this force suffers dozens of casualties a month, and this is not popular. To a certain extent, Ethiopia is forced to remain in Somalia until some kind of government is established. But a Somali government seems unlikely in the near future, and there is the threat of an Islamic religious dictatorship being set up. This would be trouble for Ethiopia, because the Somali Islamic militants are intent on conquering parts of Ethiopia occupied by ethnic Somalis (mainly the province of Ogaden). Ethiopia cannot allow this (if only because it is very unpopular inside Ethiopia), and is stuck in Somalia. Appeals to the UN to supply a larger force of peacekeepers goes unanswered. There is a global shortage of peacekeepers, and Somalia is at the bottom of everyones list of places they are willing to send their peacekeepers.

September 28, 2008: A bomb detonated in front of a hotel in the Ethiopia town of Jijiga (Ogaden region) was killed three people. The Ethiopia government said that it suspected that members of the Ogaden National Liberation Fron (ONLF) set off the explosion.

September 21, 2008: After Eritrea's brief border war with Djibouti, France reinforced its garrison in Djibouti. Now comes word that the French military - which is going through a down-sizing and restructuring program-- will not close its Arta Plage training area in Djibouti. The French may have kept the "desert commando school" anyway, but the diplomatic message is clear: France stands behind Djibouti.

September 20, 2008: Ethiopia is landlocked. Since it lost control of Eritrea, one of Ethiopia's goals has been to secure a route to the sea. The two Somali "statelets," the Somaliland Republic and Puntland, both have access to the sea, which is one reason Ethiopia generally supports the separatist areas. For several years Ethiopia and Kenya have discussed improving trade and transportation links. Kenya would like to improve its own port of Mombasa. Kenya has also talked with the Government of South Sudan (which, if it became a separate country, would also be landlocked). Recently Ethiopia and Kenya announced they would build a "transportation corridor" from Ethiopia through Kenya to Kenya's new Port Lamu complex (up the coast from Mombasa).The agreement is another indicator that Kenya and Ethiopia see each other as "strategic allies" in the Horn of Africa. Both are non-Moslem nations  confronted with hostile Islamic neighbors.

September 3, 2008: A terror bomb went off in Addisa Ababa's main bus station and killed four people. 24 people were wounded.

Djibouti turned over 26 Eritrean soldiers to the Red Cross. Five of the 26 Eritreans were wounded and captured in the June 10 firefight between Eritrea and Djibouti. 21 were classified as "conscript soldiers" who later surrendered to Djiboutian forces - which is a scrubbed way of saying the Eritreans deserted.


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