Ethiopia: Prelude To War


March 17,2008: The recent bomb explosion on an Ethiopian bus, travelling near the Eritrean border, has been blamed on Eritrea. The Ethiopians are playing up "Eritrean terrorism" and, in general, trying to get the Ethiopian public in an anti-Eritrean mood. This is not good, as it is often a prelude to war.

March 15, 2008: Though both Ethiopia and Eritrea have several tens of thousands of troops along their border (Ethiopia perhaps 100,000), both nations continue to insist there will not be another war. The US State Department said recently that a new war is "unlikely" but that the UN needs to maintain observers in Ethiopia to watch the border. UNMEE has withdrawn most of its peacekeeping force from Eritrea.

March 13, 2008: Nothing unusual in this. Ethiopia and the ONLF have very different versions of a series of what's happening in the Ogaden. Ethiopia reported that its troops had fought a series of battle over a 15 day period (end of February) and killed numerous rebels in the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The ONLF claims that Ethiopian troops suffered a series of defeats and that the ONLF killed over 40 Ethiopian soldiers. Since Ethiopia has barred western journalists from entering the combat area, no reliable outside sources are available.

March 11, 2008: The UN has "temporarily relocated" 702 peacekeepers from Eritrea. This is an interesting phrase; it is supposed to imply that the UNMEE soldiers could return. Meanwhile, 397 Jordanian soldiers and 305 Indian soldiers have been sent home. The pullback began in mid-February after Eritrea cut fuel supplies and began restricting food supplies to peacekeepers in Eritrea.

February 27, 2008: The UN reported that "most" of its peacekeepers in Eritrea had left the border area (Temporary Security Zones, TSZ) and moved to Eritrea's capital, Asmara. The UN decided to withdraw its peacekeepers after Eritrea stopped supplying fuel Eritrea upped the ante by cutting food supplies as well. Eritrea issued a statement that said the UN had failed to enforce the 2002 ruling of the Ethiopia Eritrea Boundary Commission, that gave the Badme area to Eritrea. Ethiopia continues to occupy Badme.

February 21, 2008: The UN Security Council accused Eritrea of repeated violations of agreements that led to the deployment of UN peacekeepers along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border. The UN condemned Eritrea's "fuel blockade" of UN peacekeepers and said that the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) was in the process of pulling back peacekeepers from the Eritrean side of the border.


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