Ethiopia: Water Wars Complicate Matters


December 13, 2010: Wikileaks revealed that Djibouti believes Eritrea opposes a genuine peace settlement in Somalia. This is not much of a revelation, given Eritrea's proven track record for giving arms to clans and Islamist organizations in the country. Eritrea wants to keep Somalia boiling because that distracts Ethiopia. U.S. diplomatic correspondence emphasizes Eritrea's dire economic circumstances, which was already well known. Some of the cables speculate that factions within the Eritrean military are unhappy with the current political and economic situation. That's likely true, too.

December 4, 2010: Kenyan security forces killed five guerrillas belonging to the Ethiopian rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The Kenyan paramilitary police were attacking an OLF force that had been carrying out raids on people in Kenya who oppose the OLF's secessionist agenda in Ethiopia. The Kenyan have been chasing the OLF rebels for over a week.

November 26, 2010: Rebels in the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) claimed they killed 35 Ethiopian soldiers in a series of firefights in the Degahbur area (Ogaden desert). The firefights took place from November 23 to November 25. A government spokesman said the ONLF claims were flase.

November 25, 2010: Egypt denied that it was backing anti-Ethiopian rebel groups operating in the Horn of Africa. Egypt insisted that it had good relations with Ethiopia. The Ethiopian accusations came as tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia are in fact rising. Ethiopia wants to discuss a new agreement on the distribution of Nile River water. Egypt opposes a new agreement because it would receive a smaller allotment of water than it currently receives.

November 21, 2010: The European Union has concluded that Ethiopia's May 2010 elections were quite flawed. The EU election monitor report said that the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) had intimidated opposition voters. Basically the EPRDF used its governmental powers to suppress opposition voter turnout.

November 10, 2010: The BBC apologized to a music organization which sponsored an aid drive. The BBC had reported that money raised for famine relief in Ethiopia had gone to buy weapons for rebel groups. The aid group had complained that the BBC report was misleading. In this specific case it appears the aid group was correct and due an apology. That acknowledged, the hard truth is that a lot of aid (money, food, relief supplies, etc) does get stolen before it is delivered to the needy. It gets stolen by governments, it gets stolen by rebel groups, it gets misdirected by corrupt politicians and it gets filched by criminal gangs. Rebel groups and criminal enterprises have turned selling stolen food into businesses. There are documented cases of this occurring throughout sub-Saharan Africa, in Central America, and in Central Asia.

November 9, 2010: The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) claimed that its forces had killed 267 Ethiopian soldiers in combat actions since October 1. The government called the claim a lie.

November 6, 2010: Kenyan and Ethiopian military and police units announced that they were conducting a joint operation against Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) bases along the Ethiopia-Kenya border. The announcement followed a report that OLF guerrillas killed a Kenyan policeman in the town of Moyale (located on the border).


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