June 1, 2013:
The UN has raised the authorized strength (by 1,126 troops, roughly a battalion task force) of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeeping operation to 5,326 soldiers. The original authorized figure was 4,200 soldiers, 3,973 are currently in Abyei. A 227-man Ethiopian aviation unit is scheduled to arrive later this summer, which would bring the total to 4,200. The Ethiopian Army provides the combat soldiers for UNISFA and an Ethiopian Army general officer commands the peacekeeping operation. The additional 1,126 soldiers are expected to come from Ethiopia. Sudan and South Sudan both claim Abyei. The region is large, about 10,000 square kilometers, and it has oil reserves. The UN authorized the increase because tribal tensions are rising in the region. On May 4th Misseriya tribesmen murdered the paramount chief of the Dinka Ngok. The Dinka chief was traveling in a convoy under the protection of UNISFA peacekeepers. The Misseriya are an Arabized, semi-nomadic tribe and are pro-Sudan (northern Sudan, Khartoum government). Until forced to flee during the long civil war, the Dinka Ngok were the dominant tribe in the area. The Dinka Ngok favors South Sudan. Two Ethiopian soldiers were also killed in the May 4th incident. The peacekeepers killed 17 Misseriya gunmen. Several Dinka Ngok organizations have criticized UNISFA’s failure to protect civilians. One group has even called for the withdrawal of the peacekeeping force.
May 31, 2013: An estimated 12,000 South Sudanese fled recent fighting in South Sudan’s Jonglei state and taken refuge in Ethiopia. Another 5,000 have fled to Kenya.
May 30, 2013: A senior International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor said that the Kenyan government must prove to the ICC that Kenyan courts can genuinely prosecute President Uhuru Kenyatta for crimes against humanity. Kenyatta and his chief deputy, William Ruto, are charged with planning and inciting post-election violence in 2007, that killed over 1,200 people. The ICC has indicted the men for crimes against humanity. Kenya has asked that it be permitted to try the men. The ICC is stressing the word “genuine” because ICC prosecutors think Kenya will conduct a sham trial. The ICC can pass jurisdiction to a nation’s courts if the national courts can conduct credible criminal investigations and a credible court room trial.
China has agreed to help finance Ethiopia’s new rail link to Djibouti. China’s Export and Import Bank (EXIM) will provide $2.3 billion in loans to finance the construction of a 756 kilometer electrified railroad line connecting Ethiopia to Djibouti’s port of Doraleh. The line will run from the Ethiopian town of Sebeta, through Meiso, through Dawale, and end at Doraleh. Two Chinese companies will build the rail line and the first segment is already under construction.
May 29, 2013: The East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) recently decided to support the Somalia national government’s denial of special autonomy for Jubaland in southern Somalia. However, the local Jubaland administration in Kismayo has taken the position that if Somalia does not give it a special autonomous status it may “cut ties” with the national government in Mogadishu and form a separate Jubaland state. As of May 15th, the Jubaland administration has a president. His official title is president of the Jubaland State of Somalia. The background story here is Kenya. Kenya has been working closely with the tribes in Jubaland. Though the Kenyan government supports Somalia’s national government (Somali Federal Government), it appears that Kenyan security officials believe southern Somalia will be much more stable if granted autonomy.
Critics of Kenya’s intervention are now saying that all along the Kenyan government wanted to carve out an independent buffer state between Somalia and Kenya. The claim that Kenya wants an independent state is a reach. Besides, Ethiopia does not like the idea of an independent state. The claim that Kenya was a buffer zone is no news at all. There is even a name for it: the Jubaland project. The Kenyan government has said that its objective in southern Somalia is to stabilize the area. Kenya wants a peaceful border and that means it wants a stable, reliable neighbor. The Kenyan government wants to stop attacks by Somali Islamist extremists (al Shabaab) in Kenya because the tribes flee across the border into Kenyan refugee camps. The southern Somalis want a high degree of local authority (autonomy). Kenya wants the southern tribes to be able to police their own region, so Kenya wants the tribes to be satisfied with whatever post-Somali war political settlement is agreed to. That is one reason the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF, Kenyan Army) in Somalia have asked the African Union’s AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia to provide a political support unit to help settle disputes between the Jubaland administration and the Somali government in Mogadishu. Jubaland is also referred to as “the Jubba” and Azania. It has three sub-regions, Gedo, Middle Juba, and Lower Juba. Jubaland is basically the area along the Somalia-Kenya border. It includes the port of Kismayo, Somalia south of the Juba River and a slice of the land just north and east of the Juba River. The Juba River flows south from the Ethiopian border; it enters the Indian Ocean near Kismayo. (Austin Bay)
May 27, 2013: Ethiopia announced that the African Union (AU) will create an interim military rapid reaction force. The rapid reaction force would be available to respond to coups, large-scale human rights violations, rebellions, and other crises. At the moment the AU is calling the force the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises force. The interim force will serve until the AU’s African Standby Force becomes operational. South Africa, Uganda, and Ethiopia have agreed to provide military units to serve in the force. This is actually an old idea. Since the 1960s, there have been calls for a pan-African rapid response force. The recent trouble in the Central African Republic (CAR) spurred creation of the interim force
The African Union indicated that it will ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to let Kenya prosecute the ICC cases against its new president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy, William Ruto. The ICC has charged both men with crimes against humanity. The crimes were committed in the bloody aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 national election. This year Kenyatta was elected president.
May 26, 2013: Kenyan police reported that Degodia tribal bandits crossed the border from Ethiopia and murdered three members of the Gare tribe near the Kenyan town of Gesireb. Many Gare then sought refuge in Gesireb. At least 25 people have been killed in the last few weeks in tribal clashes between the Degodia and Gare.
May 24, 2013: Eritrea celebrated two decades of independence. On May 24, 1993 Eritrea formally declared independence from Ethiopia. As for 2013, the big news remains the January 2013 take-over of the Information Ministry in Asmara. Eritrean Army soldiers, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, took control of the ministry and issued a televised demand for reform in Eritrea.
May 20, 2013: Ethiopia promised Somaliland (separatist Somalia statelet in northern Somalia) that it would help protect Somaliland form attack by Somalia or the al Shabaab Islamic terrorists.
May 18, 2013: The Kenyan government said that instability in Somalia threatens stability throughout the Horn of Africa. Kenya wants the AU to increase the size of its AMISOM peacekeeping force in Somalia.
May 17, 2013: The UN said that the human rights situation in Eritrea is unacceptable and must be closely monitored. The UN accused Eritrea of blatant disrespect for human rights and said the country must undergo fundamental reform. The UN statement followed recent allegations that over 10,000 Eritreans are political prisoners. Many of the prisoners are incarcerated in poorly ventilated underground prison cells and shipping containers. Earlier this year the UN estimated that around 36,000 Eritreans fled the country in 2012.
May 16, 2013: A Degodia tribe militia force crossed the Ethiopia-Kenya border in the Malkamau area and killed three Gare tribe women.
May 14, 2013: An Ethiopian policeman murdered 14 people in the town of Bahirdar (northwestern Ethiopia, near Lake Tana). Security officers chased the murderer and he committed suicide by jumping off a bridge into the Blue Nile River. The government called the incident a massacre. Police said the incident is under investigation and they have not determined the motive for the murder spree.
May 11, 2013: Djibouti and the U.S. have agreed to create bilateral defense structure for coordinating defense and security policies relating to East Africa and the Horn of Africa. This is diplo-speak for coordinating anti-terror policy, anti-piracy policy, and coordinating political and security responses to emerging threats in the region. The US has a US Navy facility in Djibouti. Djibouti is also the headquarters for the US Coalition Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
Ethiopian law enforcement officers arrested 12 people in what media described as the country’s most high-profile corruption case in ten years. One of the individuals arrested is a senior government official who is the minister in charge of the revenue and customs authority. His deputy was also arrested. A prominent businessman was among the other 11 arrested.
May 10, 2013: The Kenyan government asked the UN to terminate the International Criminal Court (ICC) crimes against humanity case against Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta.