Ethiopia: Deploying The Food Weapon

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August 7, 2011: Oromo separatists are attacking the term Ethiopian as a false identity. The attack has a lot of historical and even biblical roots, and ethnic hair-splitting. The Oromo separatist argument essentially boils down to declaring that Ethiopia is an empire dominated by non-Cushites (in this case, the Oromo theorists say Tigreans are non-Cushitic) that oppress the other ethnic groups (Cushite ethnic groups). What’s the purpose? Developing a us-against-them political movement. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) now claims its goal is the liberation of everyone from control by the current national government.

August 5, 2011: Ethiopian Merille tribal warriors raided a Kenyan border tribe, killed or wounded several dozen people, and stole over 200 cows. The raid follows a firefight in Kenya’s Turkana district (Kenya-Ethiopia border) between Kenyan police and tribal raiders, which left one policeman dead.

August 4, 2011: Despite allegations of planning terrorist attacks on its neighbors, Eritrea has asked East Africa’s Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for re-admission. IGAD attempts to coordinate developmental initiatives among its members. Ethiopia is a member of IGAD.

August 1, 2011: According to UN figures, more Eritrean refugees are entering Ethiopia. The drought may be one reason, though anecdotal evidence (interviews with a few refugees) indicates that some of the refugees have fled for political reasons. Over 60,000 Eritrean refugees are currently living in Ethiopia.

July 28, 2011: A new UN report accuses Eritrea of planning to launch a terrorist attack on the African Union (AU) summit meeting held in Ethiopia in January 2011. Ethiopia had made that charge, and claimed that its police and intelligence agencies had stopped the Eritrean plot. A UN investigation found evidence supporting Ethiopia’s claim. Eritrean intelligence officers had planned to set off a car bomb (like those used in Iraq) at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa during the summit. A major international hotel and a market square were also targets for bomb attacks. What would have happened if the plot had not been detected and the attacks had been carried out? If Ethiopia had subsequently connected the terrorist attack to Eritrea, one result would have been a new Ethiopia-Eritrea War.

July 27, 2011: The UN appointed Ethiopian Lieutenant General Tadesse Werede Tesfay as commander of the peacekeeping force in Sudan’s contested Abyei region.

July 25, 2011: An Eritrean exile group, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) claimed that at least two-dozen Eritrean Navy sailors have defected to Yemen since the middle of June 2011. RSADO said that the Yemeni government intended to return the sailors to Eritrea and that the navy defectors faced reprisal (likely execution) if they were returned.

July 21, 2011: The African Union, with the aid of the United States, has established a Peace Support Operations Center (PSOC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

July 16, 2011: An ethnic Somali separatist group in Ethiopia claimed that the Ethiopian Army was stopping truck convoys carrying emergency food to town in the Ogaden region. The charge dovetails with other recent accusations that the government of Ethiopia is using the drought and the food crisis as genocidal weapons against ethnic rebels in the Ogaden.

July 13, 2011: The Ethiopian foreign ministry announced that the first Ethiopian peacekeeping troops had begun deploying to Sudan for service in the disputed Abyei region. Elements of the 4,200 man peacekeeping brigade left Ethiopia on July 7. The UN is sponsoring the operation. It will be called the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). Its chief mission will be to insure that Sudanese and Southern Sudanese forces are withdrawn from Abyei (the code phrase is the demilitarization of Abyei). Ethiopia has participated in numerous UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, including the Congo in 1960 (UNUC mission), and in Burundi in 2000. Ethiopia also provided troops for the UN Mission Liberia (UNMIL), which began in 2003.

July 11, 2011: An Ethiopian rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), conveyed a congratulatory message on the foundation of Africa's newest state the Republic of South Sudan (RSS), which officially become independent state on 9 July, 2011.

July 9, 2011: Southern Sudan officially became independent from Sudan. The last African country to separate from another was Eritrea, which gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Ethiopia and Eritrea ultimately fought a long and deadly border war. Many people in East Africa fear that Sudan and Southern Sudan will as well.

July 4, 2011: The current sub-Saharan drought and famine is hitting the Horn of Africa quite hard. Somalia is also suffering from the famine, as is Ethiopia, particularly eastern and south-eastern Ethiopia. Eritrea is already suffering from economic sanctions and the fear is that it may escalate the proxy war against Ethiopia that it is conducting in Somalia. Rebel organizations in all three countries are accusing the governments of denying relief supplies to their political opponents, in other words, using starvation as a weapon.

June 25, 2011: The UN reported that the drought afflicting East Africa is getting worse. An estimated 11 million people living in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and part of Kenya) are already suffering from starvation.

June 22, 2011: Egypt is once again objecting to Ethiopia’s Great Renaissance Dam project, despite Ethiopia’s offer to provide Egypt with electricity generated by the dam’s hydro-electric generators once the dam is completed. The dam will block water flowing into the Nile River. Ethiopia intends to use water from the dam’s reservoir in several major irrigation projects. And that is Egypt’s beef. Egypt says its downstream water rights are being violated. Egypt is enlisting UN support for its position.

June 17, 2011: Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) once again accused the Ethiopian government of stealing the Ogaden region’s oil and gas reserves, to the loss of the Ogaden people. The Ogaden is inhabited by ethnic Somalis. Ethiopia recently stated that the Ogaden basin holds an estimated 4.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Ethiopian Army and the ONLF are fighting a continual low-grade war in the Ogaden.

June 15, 2011: Ethiopia announced that it is buying 200 upgraded tanks from Ukraine. The Ukrainian company involved in the deal said the contract is worth $100 million.

 

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