Ethiopia: Factional War, And Peace


October 25, 2010: Eritrea continues to wage war on several fronts. Its forces face Ethiopia along their disputed border. The proxy war in Somalia continues. Though the border incident with Djibouti is being resolved, trouble with Djibouti Afar nomads remains an issue. Eritrea has, over the last decade, also been involved with guerrilla groups in Yemen and Sudan. Eritrea's mobilized nation in arms (a phrase that cropped up during the Ethiopia-Eritrea War) has exacted a huge social and economic price. Years of war mobilization have strained the country and it may be suffering from both war fatigue (social and political aspect) as well as economic attrition. The military keeps the country together, but it, too, has been damaged by the declining economy. That said, the vast majority of Eritreans continue to believe they have been wronged by Ethiopia and the UN. The border demarcation commission ruled that the disputed town of Badme (on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border) belonged to Eritrea. Ethiopia and Eritrea had agreed to binding arbitration, but when the commission ruled in Eritrea's favor, Ethiopia reneged. The resulting bitterness has been the psychological fuel powering Eritrea's continued resistance, despite the nation's economic deterioration.

October 18, 2010: Ethiopia freed several members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) faction which signed a peace agreement this summer. The government touted this as an example of reconciliation and said the freed ONLF fighters will participate in a demobilization and training program that will reintegrate them into Ethiopian society. The ONLF mainline leadership, however, declared the amnesty was only propaganda.

October 15, 2010: Ethiopia is hosting a training exercise for the African Union's new African Standby Force (ASF). Around 200 policemen, soldiers, and civilian security experts (drawn from several African countries) are participating. The exercise is described as a building block in creating an African military unit that will be able to respond to both political crises and natural disasters. The idea for the ASF is not a new one. Diplomats discussed a pan-African rapid response force in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1990s the United States and a few other NATO countries floated various models of an all-African rapid response force. The big problem was always financial; in poverty-stricken Africa, who pays for it? One issue rarely addressed but everyone recognized was that of African dictators. Would they support a force that might be used against them? Not likely. Transportation and other logistics issues were also never answered. The presumption seemed to be the US Air Force would provide the airlift.

October 13, 2010: Somalis reported that Ethiopian soldiers in armored vehicles crossed the Ethiopia-Somalia border and took up positions near the town of Belet-Weyne. They also occupied a village previously controlled by the militant Somali Islamist group, al Shabaab.

October 12, 2010: The government of Ethiopia and a break-away faction of the ONLF signed a peace agreement. The government agreed to drop all criminal charges against members of the faction who are currently in jail. The government statement indicated negotiations had been going on for quite some time.

October 1, 2010: Ethiopia claimed it arrested 75 people who were trained in Eritrea to conduct terrorist attacks. The government said the people arrested had infiltrated in six different groups, some entering through Somaliland (the Somali separatist enclave that Ethiopia recognizes as an independent state).


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