Ethiopia: The Darfur Disease Comes to Visit


February18, 2007: The Ethiopian government said that the UN had failed to stop Eritrea from sending troops and armor into the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), which separates Eritrea and Ethiopian military positions. The action Ethiopia criticized is old news. It took place last fall when Eritrea sent 1500 troops and 14 tanks (a company) into the TSZ. Initial reports said that Eritrea had sent 10,000 soldiers (troops backed by militia organizations). That proved to be incorrect. However, Eritrea did send a significant number of forces into the demilitarized zone and the UN did not force Eritrea to pull out. Ethiopia complained when the action took place - so why is Ethiopia complaining now? Eritrea has spent the last ten weeks accusing Ethiopia of "aggression" and "imperialism" for attacking the Islamic Courts in Somalia. Ethiopia did indeed attack the Islamic Courts militia and dealt the Islamists a huge defeat. This was also a huge defeat for Eritrea, which backed the Islamic Courts. The Ethiopian complaints call attention to Eritrean military violations of a ceasefire and demilitarization agreement. However, in the larger context, this could be a diplomatic signal that Ethiopia is once again interested in resolving the border dispute with Eritrea. Ethiopia may believe it is in the politically superior position after its victory in Somalia.

February 16, 2007: Hundred of people belonging to the Borana and Gabra tribes have fled across the border into Kenya. These Ethiopian tribes are cattle-herding pastoralists. In the past they have clashed over pasturing rights. This is the same kind of fighting that has torn Darfur apart, and is common throughout the semi-arid Sahel region (the stretches across Africa, just south of the Sahara desert.) However, in this case, both tribes are herders, and both are ethnically related. In Darfur, it's Arab herders versus black African farmers.

February 15, 2007: T the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group operating in Ethiopia, claimed that 33 people died in the "inter-clan" fighting. The OLF statement said that the Ethiopian government provoked the fighting between the clans.

February 13, 2007: There was an outbreak of tribal fighting in Ethiopia's Ogaden desert region. The clash involved the Borana and Gabra.

February 10, 2007: The Ethiopian government asked the government of Turkey to consider providing troops to serve with a peacekeeping force in Somalia. Ethiopia intends to withdraw its troop units in Somalia by the end of March 2007.


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