In the wake of
an attack on an oil exploration operation in Ogaden two months ago, the army
has gathered troops in the area and launched a sweep in areas where the rebels
are known to hang out. The Ogaden region of southern Ethiopia has long been
claimed by Somalia, and its inhabitants are largely Somali. But by holding the
Ogaden, Somali raiders are kept away from the ethnic Ethiopian population to
the north. Meanwhile, Ethiopia is asking the UN for some money to help defray
the costs of Ethiopian peacekeeping operations in Somalia. This will be
difficult, as the Moslem countries will protest that Christian Ethiopia is now
part of the war on Islam.June 9, 2007: A bandit (or pirate) group operating in
the Red Sea off the coast of Eritrea continues to hold a large Egyptian fishing
boat and 23 Egyptian fishermen. The bandits took control of the boat on June 2.
The ship was fired on by "gunmen" and forced into Eritrean territorial waters.
Pirates operate along the Red Sea coasts of Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, and Somalia.
Fisherman are frequent targets, but larger vessels are sometimes attacked. The
fisherman are usually robbed. However, occasionally ransoms for the crews are
June 8, 2007: The rhetorical
war continues. A former member of the Islamic Courts government in Somalia
accused Ethiopia of being an "occupying power" in Somalia. The Islamic Courts
and the Eritrean government demanded that Ethiopia leave Somalia. Ethiopia
ignored the suggestion. Eritrea is once again trying to put together an
anti-Ethiopian coalition in Somalia. There has been a lot of bluster on the
part of the Eritreans and Islamic Courts, but they too face the problem of
Somalia's "clan-based" society. The dissidents know they oppose Ethiopia but
don't necessarily share other objectives. A Somali Islamist group has also
accused Ethiopia of sending Somali troops to Ethiopia—with the aim of enlisting
Somalia in a war against Eritrea. Ethiopia has been training Somali forces and
it is entirely possible that some Somalis are being trained in Ethiopia.
However, at the moment the Somali transitional national government's weak
military forces would add little to another Ethiopian-Eritrean war, so the
accusation sounds like another propaganda charge.
June 5, 2007: Ethiopia's prime
minister flew to Mogadishu, Somalia, and met with Ethiopian troops serving in
June 4, 2007: An Ethiopian
machinegun crew shot and killed would-be suicide terrorist bomber in Mogadishu.
The terrorist's explosives-packed car blew up after the Ethiopians' fire struck
the vehicle. One civilian was injured by the blast.
June 3, 2007: Ethiopia hosted
the president of the Somaliland Republic, one of the "separatist statelets"
within Somalia. The Somaliland Republic declared independence from Somalia in
May 1991. No nation officially recognizes the Somaliland Republic's
independence, but the statelet has "offices" (de facto embassies) in Ethiopia,
South Africa, and Ghana.
May 31, 2007: Eritrea issued a
statement that said the world needs to "pressure" Ethiopia to accept the
Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's (EEBC) ruling that gave Eritrea part of
the Badme region. The Eritrean statement noted that the Boundary Commission's
ruling was supposed to be "final and binding" but Ethiopia had violated the
agreement. In this case, Eritrea is right on the facts.
May 28, 2007: The Ethiopian
government claimed that the Ogaden National Liberation Movement (ONLF)
detonated a bomb which killed five people. The attack took place in Ethiopia's
Ogaden region. The ONLF denied that it was involved in the bombing incident.
The Ogaden is a predominantly ethnic Somali area.