Ethiopia: Back Into Somalia

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September 7, 2009: Ethiopia and Eritrea are waging a proxy war in Somalia, but the town of Badme on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border continues to be the biggest point of conflict. The Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC) gave the town to Eritrea. The Algiers Peace Agreement that both countries signed stated that the EEBC's decision would be final. Ethiopia, however, refused to accept it. Those facts are in Eritrea's favor. Eritrea's subsequent trouble-making, however, cannot be excused by Ethiopia's reneging on the deal. Eritrea has become “the hometown” of rebel, exile, and terrorist groups from around the world. Eritrea arms Somali Islamist militias and has fought a border war with Djibouti.

August 29, 2009: Ethiopian armored units reportedly took control of the Somali town of Baladwayne (central Somalia). The al Shabaab Islamist militia occupies positions near Baladwayne. Another Islamist militia, the Hizbul Islam, also has fighters in the area. Interestingly enough, the sources for the reports are residents of Baladwayne who phoned in information to news agencies. That indicates that cell phone communications are up and running even in central Somalia. The Ethiopian government, however, denied that it has troops in Somalia.

August 24, 2009: The government of Sri Lanka announced that it may open an embassy in Eritrea. The Sri Lankan government was very open about the reason: Eritrea has been a “safe haven” for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the rebel and terrorist group that the Sri Lankan government finally defeated earlier this year. At least the Sri Lankan government defeated the LTTE in Sri Lanka. LTTE “outposts” still function. Since fundraising in impoverished Eritrea is likely very tough, the Eritrean LTTE “office” was likely in the business of procuring weapons and ammunition. Eritrea serves as a source of weapons and is also a well-known “trans-shipment port” in the black market arms business. Intelligence agencies have theorized that the LTTE shared information with Islamist terrorist groups (including Al Qaeda). Eritrea, with its “safe haven” reputation, is one likely place for these contacts. So the new Sri Lankan embassy will provide a window on all this nasty business.

August 20, 2009: The Ethiopian government, in a rare moment of candor, said that Somali pro-government militias have used Ethiopian territory as “a base.” The militias support the Transitional National Government (TNG) in Somalia. The Ethiopians basically see their support for the Somali TNG militias as tit for Eritrean tat, since Eritrea supports the al Shabaab Islamists. The Ethiopian statement added that Ethiopia has helped train the pro-TNG units.

August 19, 2009: The Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission (EECC, which operates out of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands), awarded Ethiopia $174 million and Eritrea $161 million in damages that occurred in the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea War. Basically, Eritrea owes Ethiopia about $12.5 million. The EECC evaluated property loss claims, lost income, and “human suffering.” Eritrea said it would “abide” by the decision. Ethiopia said that it was not awarded enough money.

 

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