Ethiopia: Local Traditions Appall Foreigners


July 11, 2007: Ethiopia is stepping up its counter-guerrilla operations in the Ogaden region. The Ethiopian military began increasing its presence in "sensitive areas" of Ogaden after the April 2007 attack on a Chinese-owned oil facility, which killed 74 people. The attackers were from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). Foreign aid workers are appalled that Ethiopian military operations are indiscriminate. They are, and always have been, as the basic tactic in fighting Somalis is to terrorize them enough so they calm down. There have also been a large number of arrests. There is always some trouble in the Ogaden desert. There is friction between ethnic Somalis and the Ethiopian government. There is also friction between semi-nomadic tribes and sedentary tribes. However, the attack on the Chinese drilling project was just too big to ignore. Nine Chinese citizens died in the battle. The attack was also clearly intended to discourage economic investment in the Ogaden, at least as long as Ethiopia controls it. Ethiopia had to respond.

July 5, 2007: Eritrea said that it had begun training a new group of draftees for service in the Eritrean military. Eritrea conducts an "annual draft." Part of its national strategy is to create a "nation in arms." During the Ethiopia-Eritrea War, Eritrean politicians bragged that in Eritrea "everyone fights." Eritrea's high degree of mobilization was necessary because Ethiopia has a much larger population.

July 2, 2007: Eritrea ridiculed Ethiopia's recent statement that Ethiopia is "considering an invasion" of Eritrea. Eritrea also criticized Ethiopia's counter-insurgency operations in the Ogaden region. Eritrea denies that it aids the ONLF. However, it does.

June 29, 2007 Ethiopia's prime minister declared that Ethiopia is "ready" for war with Eritrea. This was an escalation in Ethiopia's war rhetoric.


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