Ethiopia: Eritrea the Mischief Maker


March 6, 2007: Eritrea has imposed new restrictions on UN peace monitors operating in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). There are no more details report did not elaborate, but in the past this has meant that Eritrean forces have denied UN personnel access to observation posts in the TSZ and denied the use of land routes to the posts. Eritrea also restricts UN helicopter use over its section of the TSZ.

March 5, 2007: Five Ethiopians, among the dozen kidnapped with five Britons on March 2, were located by Ethiopian security forces. The remaining seven Ethiopians and five British citizens are still missing. Sixteen SAS commandos are reportedly prepared for deployment to Ethiopia to assist Ethiopian security forces. Knowing the SAS, there's a good chance they are already there.

March 4, 2007: On March 2 five British citizens and 12 Ethiopians were kidnapped near the town of Dallol. On March 3 Ethiopia accused Eritrea of being involved in the kidnapping. On March 4 the British government acknowledged that the five citizens included "British embassy staff." That explained earlier reports that Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) commandos had been alerted and move to Cyprus in preparation for deployment to Ethiopia. Eritrea denied that it was involved in the incident and called the accusations "crazy." Ethiopia's Afar region (where the kidnapping took place) is a wild place, filled with a mix of bandits, nomads, and rebels (sometimes the same person is all three).

February 25, 2007: Eritrea denied Ethiopian allegations that it was helping support "terror attacks" designed to "destabilize" Ethiopia. Eritrea was responding to Ethiopian allegations that Eritrean intelligence was encouraging attacks on "government targets" inside Ethiopia.

February 24, 2007: Members of Eritrea's main opposition alliance held a conference in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. A spokesman at the conference said that Ethiopia should "intervene" to help remove Eritrea's President Isayas Afewerki from power. The spokesman contended that Ethiopia could remove Afewerki "within a week." That's bombast. Eritrea is a nation in arms. However, the open appearance of Eritrean opposition in Ethiopia sends the signal that Ethiopia can make "internal political trouble" in Eritrea.

February 22, 2007: Eritrea hoped the war in Somalia would "destabilize Ethiopia." Meanwhile, Eritrea is not contributing to stability in Somalia. The U.S. believes that Eritrea is still trying to make trouble in Somalia. Ethiopia destroyed Eritrea's gambit by launching a successful offensive in late December 2006 that smashed the Islamic Courts militia. Ethiopia maintains that Eritrea supplied the Islamic Courts with weapons, money, and advisers.


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