Ethiopia: War Without End Proceeds

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March 19, 2009: Asylum seekers are a continuing problem for Ethiopia. Refugees fleeing the war in Somalia have been increasing. The UN reported that 10,000 have collected in the border town of Dolo Ado (Somalia-Ethiopia border). One official described them as asylum seekers – which puts them in a slightly different category than a refugee. The implication is they are fleeing not simply war and its evils, but also fear violent political retribution.

March 15, 2009: Eritrea accused “some parties” in Ethiopia of helping Somali pirates. The Eritrean statement claimed that Ethiopia provides some of the pirates with “logistical support.” This is more of the Eritrea versus Ethiopia charge and counter charge, and one guaranteed to attract attention. Here’s why: Somali pirates do operate out of anarchic regions in northern Somalia. Ethiopia certainly maintains an intelligence presence in northern Somalia and has contacts with the “statelets” of Puntland and Somaliland. Eritrea would love to tar Ethiopia as being part of the pirate problem.

March 11, 2009: Eritrea condemned the International Criminal Court warrant for the arrest of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. Eritrea has decided to support Sudan’s government to the hilt. There are several reasons. One is that Eritrea completely distrusts the UN. Eritrea accuses the UN of favoring Ethiopia in its border dispute. Sudan sees the UN as an instrument of “European imperialism” (that’s the pitch at the moment). This suits Eritrea just fine. Sudan and Ethiopia don’t get along very well, either. It’s all about stirring up trouble for Ethiopia.

March 9, 2009: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) claimed another victory over Ethiopian security forces. The ONLF said its fighters were attacked by Ethiopian military forces that remain “stationed near the border” (ie Somalia-Ethiopia border). The fight allegedly took place near the town of Mustahil (also spelled Mustaxiil). The ONLF repelled the attack and killed approximately 30 Ethiopian soldiers, then took control of Mustahil. The Ethiopian government completely denied the report. ONLF also claims to have destroyed several trucks. Ethiopian military sources frequently report that their units exchange gunfire with Somali rebels. Ethiopia claims that the ONLF is backed by Eritrea. Since March 1, several Ethiopian and Ogaden rebel websites had reported that Ethiopian local militia forces (this usually means tribally-based security forces) have been fighting with ONLF rebels in the Ogaden.

February 22, 2009: Eritrea completely rejected any new attempts to mediate the border dispute with Ethiopia. New diplomatic efforts have been launched as part of the UN’s attempt to mediate Eritrea’s dispute with Djibouti. The government of Libya made a new approach to Eritrea as well, and that was rejected. Eritrea’s official position is blunt: Ethiopia continues to occupy Eritrea territory. The 2002 border demarcation decision gave Eritrea the town of Badme. Ethiopia disputed the decision—but the decision was supposed to be binding (ie, the two countries had agreed to accept in advance the decision no matter how it went). Ethiopia reneged on that agreement.

February 20, 2009: 45 people were killed in fighting in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. Ethiopian security forces fought with members of the Ogaden Naitonal Liberation Front (ONLF) near the towns of Fik and Degehebur. The ONLF claimed it killed 145 Ethiopia troops and local militia forces.

 

 

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