Ethiopia: All Shouting And No Shooting

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December 11, 2005: Despite the sword rattling and increase in rhetorical bluster, reports from the Ethiopia-Eritrea border indicate there is little likelihood of war. Ethiopia is largely responsible for the current situation. The UN boundary commission decided the key border issue, the area around Badme, in Eritrea's favor. The decision was supposed to be binding, but Ethiopia has rejected it.

However, Eritrea's diplomacy has been a failure. The UN Security Council unanimously agreed to threaten Eritrea with economic and political sanctions if Eritrea does not let UNMEE observers operate unhindered. Eritrea has stopped UN support and inspection helicopter flights in several parts of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). Still, observers reported that in October and November Ethiopia moved two infantry divisions to an area near the TSZ. Eritrea then put 1500 light infantry close to the TSZ. After the Security Council demanded troop pullbacks, Ethiopia agreed to re-deploy seven divisions away from the TSZ. This past week Eritrea issued an order expelling Americans, Western Europeans, and Russians from the UN observer force. This order could affect approximately 150 of the 3300 observers. It also makes Ethiopia look more cooperative, even though Ethiopia is violating the "binding agreement."

 

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