Eritrea's capital, Asmara, has
become a haven for African rebel groups. For several years Eritrea has provided
various East African rebel organizations with a home away from home, and now
Darfur rebels have arrived as well. Somali Islamists appear to be the most
prevalent rebels, which stands to reason since Eritrea supported Somalia's Islamic Courts rebels, who are still fighting
Somalia's national government and Ethiopian peacekeepers in Somalia.
October 6, 2007: Last year Eritrea refused over
$200 million in aid. The aid packages included grants from various
non-governmental organizations, UN aid, World Bank loans. Eritrea (with reason)
sees many offers of aid as "money with conditions." Of course the aid comes
with conditions, and in Eritrea's case it includes cooperating on peace
initiatives in Somalia and with Ethiopia. At the moment Eritrea will have none
of it. The Eritrean government is pursuing a policy it calls "self reliance."
The policy has merit—Eritrean leaders (and several other African leaders) argue
that their country and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa rely too much on outside
donors. But Eritrea does not want to appear to be "bought off" by anyone.
Refusing aid, however, means life in Eritrea can be particularly tough.
October 4, 2007: Ethiopia said that it will commit
5000 soldiers to the new UN-African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force in
Darfur. Meanwhile, the UN is criticizing
Ethiopia for its pacification tactics in Ogaden, where Somalis separatists have
sparked a rebellion. Ethiopia is cutting off food supplies for the rebellious
tribes, to force them to quiet down. The UN insists that this food tactic be
stopped, and negotiations be sought instead. The Somali rebels don't want to
talk, they want to fight. The Ethiopians see the UN position as supporting the
September 26, 2007: On September 25 the Ethiopian
government said that it was considering "terminating" any border agreements
with Eritrea because Eritrea supports "terrorism." The Ethiopian statement
implied that Ethiopia is preparing to walk away from the 2000 Eritrea-Ethiopia
Boundary Commission (EEBC) agreement. In 2002 the EEBC gave the disputed city
of Badme to Eritrea. Though the EEBC decision was supposed to be binding,
Ethiopia has refused to accept the decision. On September 26 the Eritrean
government accused Ethiopia of violating the agreement.