Ethiopia: Stalemate, Tension and a War No One Can Afford


December 18, 2005: Ethiopia and Eritrea cannot afford another war, but neither can muster the political clout to resolve their border dispute. Eritrea is enraged with the international community for not forcing Ethiopia to comply with Eritrea being awarded disputed territory by the UN commission. Ethiopia, run by a government with a shaky hold on power, does not want to take the domestic political heat for "surrendering territory." Stalemate results, and tempers rise.

December 17, 2005: A Chinese oil company will explore for oil in western Ethiopia. Chinese companies have developed oil fields in neighboring Sudan, and as a result China has become a staunch ally of Sudan, and supplied it with weapons.

December 16, 2005: The Ethiopian government is prosecuting 131 opposition politicians and journalists for treason and rebellion. Last month's post-election riots left about 50 dead, and over 4,000 arrested. Many Ethiopians believe the government rigged the vote, which gave the ruling party (which has been in power for 14 years) a majority in parliament. Ethiopia is split by religious and ethnic factions, and has been ruled by authoritarian governments for nearly all its history. Many Ethiopians want democracy, but they want other things as well.

On the Kenyan border, over a hundred tribal elders from tribes on both countries met to negotiate a halt to the cross border raids that leave hundreds dead each year. For generations, more powerful tribes in Ethiopia have raided into Kenya, killing and looting. Kenya has threatened military action if the violence is not stopped.

December 15, 2005: The UN Security Council agreed to Eritrea's demand that all western European, Canadian, and American peacekeepers in UNMEE be withdrawn from Eritrea. Thus 87 UNMEE peacekeepers from these nations left Eritrea and moved to Ethiopia. The UN said that approximately 180 UNMEE peacekeepers are from these countries. UNMEE currently ahs 3,300 peacekeeping troops and police deployed in and along the Ethiopia-Eritrea Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). Withdrawing peacekeepers won't appease Eritrea. The only thing that will appease Eritrea is UN enforcement of the boundary commission decision to give Eritrea the disputed area around the town of Badme. Ethiopia rejects the "binding" commission decision.


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