Ethiopia: March 16, 2005


Earlier this month, Eritrea ordered all veterans to report for two weeks of refresher training.  Eritrea thinks Ethiopia is up to something, and perhaps the UN also thinks so. Some Eritreans believe that Ethiopia has massed 100,000 troops near Badme-- which is a huge increase over the 35,000 troops Eritrea said Ethiopia deployed in late 2004. Last month the European Union noted increasing military activity on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border. On March 11 Eritrea asked the UN Security Council to "press" Ethiopia to accept the border settlement. On March 11 the UN  asked Ethiopia to redeploy its troops away from the border area. The UN noted that there had been a steady increase in Ethiopian forces along the border, which is not helping the cause of peace. Meanwhile, on March 13, Ethiopia and Kenya signed a military cooperation agreement. Ethiopia and Kenya have been cooperating on a number of common security concerns -- most of them dealing with Somalia. However, Eritrea could read this agreement as Ethiopia "securing its southern border" -- in anticipation of further escalation at Badme. With tensions running high, it's easy for Eritrea and Ethiopia to misread the other. As part of the deal that ended the 1998-2000 border war, Ethiopia agreed to live by the independent border commission's "binding decision." In 2002 Ethiopia rejected the decision of the independent commission which gave the town of Badme to Eritrea.


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