Ethiopia: Eritrea Versus The World


April 4, 2011: Ethiopia has come up with a potential solution to the Nile River Water War. Here’s the background: Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi want a new deal on Nile River water rights. Egypt opposes it; Sudan hangs with Egypt. Indications are that Southern Sudan will side with Uganda and Kenya. Ethiopia intends to build a 5200-megawatt dam on the Blue Nile, to create a huge reservoir and produce hydro-electric power. The dam, however, will cost at least five billion dollars. Ethiopia does not have the cash. Ethiopia is now floating the idea that Egypt might get an ownership share in the dam and thus a share of the dam’s hydro-electric power and a share of the profits from selling the electricity throughout East Africa. Egypt depends on the Nile for most of its water; it regards its water rights as essential to its survival. The current water rights agreement is a colonial-era document, which the up-river nations contend is unjust and unfair because it gives very little water to up-river nations (where the Nile actually begins). Sudan and Southern Sudan are wary of one another. So far, a common interest in oil production has kept the Sudan north-south civil war from reigniting. A Nile River Water War could set it off. Ethiopia’s proposal at least creates the possibility of a win-win political situation. Only time will tell.

April 2, 2011: US AFRICOM is planning to create a US Marine Corps air-ground task force for use in Africa. At the moment the unit does not exist, though AFRICOM has indicated that around a hundred Marines will soon form the cadre for the unit. This will be a unique air-ground task force, a battalion-minus according to AFRICOM. The unit will take on counter-terror, counter-extremism, and training missions in the Horn of Africa (including Djibouti and Ethiopia). It will also participate in Operation Enduring Freedom-Tran Sahara (OEF-TS). OEF-TS currently focuses on Niger, Chad, and Mali.

March 31, 2011: The Ethiopian government has arrested 121 members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) during March. Most of the arrests occurred in the West Shoa and East Wollega regions of Oromia. The OLF has been fighting the government for almost four decades.

March 30, 2011: Eritrea has faced stiff UN Security Council sanctions since 2009. The sanctions focus on Eritrea’s support for Islamist militants in Somalia, to include arming the militants. Eritrea has taken an aggressive anti-UN stance. For the last couple of months Eritrea has been attacking UN aid programs and now it intends to end participation in a long-term developmental aid project. Eritrea is actually making an argument that many critics of developmental aid have made for years. The Eritrean government contends that aid temporarily mitigates problems but does not solve the root causes. Western media have tried to follow up on this story but the Eritrean government doesn’t seem interested in going beyond its initial complaint. Eritrea’s criticism sounds like another example of its hard-line rejection diplomacy. Eritrea has said that it will not bend to the UN and now that apparently includes taking UN aid.

March 28, 2011: Sources in the Somaliland Republic reported that Ethiopian soldiers shut down part of the Somaliland border. Why is unclear, though one report suggested that the action involved shaking down truck drivers.

March 27, 2011: The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) claimed that its fighter had killed 22 Ethiopian soldiers and security personnel in various engagements in Oromio. The OLA is the Oromo Liberation Front’s armed wing. The OLA claimed that it was involved in three major actions, the first on March 12, another March17 (where 14 Ethiopian soldiers were slain), and another on March 19.

March 20, 2011: The Ethiopian government announced that overthrowing the Eritrean government had now become its official policy. The government contended that this is a pro-active policy which would use diplomatic and military means.

March 18, 2011: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) accused the Ethiopian government of blocking relief supplies from reaching the Ogaden region. The ONLF stated that the government is using food and water shortages as a weapon. The ONLF also contended that Ethiopia has managed to bully aid agencies into keeping quiet about the blockade. According to the ONLF, the UN is also complicit in this conspiracy of silence.

March 11, 2011: Djibouti police arrested four opposition leaders. Djibouti opposition groups claimed that the four leaders were going to demonstrate against the current government. The arrests were illegal and thus an attempt to intimidate the opposition.

March 7, 2011: Al Shabaab again claimed that Ethiopian soldiers had once again entered Somalia and were fighting on behalf of Somalia’s national government.


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