For several years Eritrea and Iran have made friendly diplomatic gestures
and discussed economic cooperation. In mid-May the gestures and discussions
took the form of a major conference between Eritrea's leader Isaias Afwerki and
Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad. This resulted in Ahmadinejad announcing
that Iran and Eritrea saw "no limit for expansion of mutual cooperation."" Iran
and Eritrea shared "common views on the regional and global issues" and that
they were prepared "to resist" the hegemonic system (the American-led global
Eritrea are both outlaws of sorts and outlaw nations, and, like terrorists,
always connect. South Africa during apartheid is a premier example, but North
Korea, Libya and Saddam's Iraq, and to a degree Taiwan, have followed the same
circuitous and sub rosa path.
Spring 2008, Eritrean suddenly confronted Djibouti. Djibouti has big friends;
it hosts the US Horn of Africa task force and a French base. France and Djibouti have had a mutual defense
agreement since 1977 when Djibouti became independent from France.
Djibouti, like Eritrea, sits on the Bab al Mandab, the strait connecting the
Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. Iran sits on the Strait of Hormuz, which connects
the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean.
a conspiracy theory, it's geo-strategic choke point reality. Local and even
tribal issues actually propel many small-scale conflicts around the globe, but
geography attracts other interested parties and troublemakers. Radical Islamists were very interested in the
Achenese rebellion on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Yes, they shared
religious concerns but Aceh province also bordered the entrance to the Straits
of Malacca, which connect the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.
another two or three choke points demonstrates a global ability to damage.
Navy will tell you this is tough to do and the Navy is correct. But if an
admiral tells you he hasn't thought about such an outlaw power play, he's
2008: Eritrea stated that it would not try to find a diplomatic solution to its
border dispute with Djibouti. Eritrea contended that a diplomatic negotiation
would be a "media tit for tat" that would "aggravate a fabricated problem."
2008: Djibouti admitted that a dozen Djiboutian soldiers were killed in the
June 10 firefight with Eritrea. Some of the wounded appeared to have died since
the June 10th attack. The total number of wounded Djiboutian troops is
somewhere between 98 and 108. Djibouti also claimed that "several" French
warships are being sent to Djibouti and will deploy off the Ras Doumeira
peninsula. France confirmed that a frigate and a helicopter carrier had arrived
off Djibouti. A third is scheduled to arrive. France has around 3000 troops
based in Djibouti (2850 is one fairly hard figure). The US has around 1200.
most of whom are engaged in logistical support, training, and developmental aid
operations. The US troops, however, are heavily armed and can be easily
2008: The UN condemned Eritrea for instigating
the border clashes with Djibouti. The UN Security Council statement said
that military action against Djibouti had occurred in "Ras Doumeira and
Doumeira Island." The UN also noted that Eritrea had raided the Ras Doumeira
peninsula on April 16.
2008: Eritrean and Djiboutian soldiers engaged in a firefight on the border
that left at least six soldiers dead and as many as 60 wounded. Djibouti
reported an extended firefight in the Mount Gabla area (north Djibouti). The
African Union has sent a "fact finding mission" to Djibouti, but it appears the
fact-finders are behind the trigger pullers.
National Liberation Army (ONLA, a wing of the ONLF) announced that it has begun
an "offensive" in Ethiopia's Ogaden desert region. One of the key areas the
ONLA claimed to be on the attack is in Dhagah-Madow district. The ONLA also
claimed that it had defeated the Ethiopia government's "May offensive" in the
2008: The Red Sea Afars Democratic Organization (RSADO), an anti-Eritrean
government, claimed that its fighters had killed 12 Eritrean soldiers in
attacks conducted on May 30 and June 1.
There were no independent reports confirming the claim. Interesting
enough, the RSADO press statement about the June 1 attack described a very
plausible attack in a very likely place. The RSADO said its fighters hit a
convoy in the town of Ramot (along a major Eritrean road). The May 30 attack
consisted of several firefights around Gobaado.
2008: Tensions have increased between Djibouti and Eritrea. A slice of their
mutual border has been in dispute since the early 1990s when Eritrea gained
independence from Ethiopia. In 1996 and 1999 clashes occurred over control of
the Ras Doumeira peninsula on the Red Sea.
2008: Ethiopia estimated that 4.5 million of its citizens need some type of
food aid. The drought is one reason, but rising international food prices is
2008: The presidents of Eritrea and Iran met in Iran to discuss new trade and
cooperation agreements between their two countries.