Friday, March 09, 2007

Eritrea-Ethiopia border conflict


Assab-Obock - thirty-five, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

It looks as if the Britons captured in Afar lands might have been found, according to the BBC. If so, they may be in the country of Eritrea rather than the country of Ethiopia, for as much as boundaries mean anything in an area like this, of desert, rocks, stones and sand.

Unfortunately, boundaries do mean something, as Ethiopia and Eritrea have bene to war over their boundary with many thousands of people being killed, and millions of dollars being spent on their war machinery.

The most recent war stopped in about 2002 (I think) and a boundary commission was set up to delineate the boundary between the two countries and both countries signed up to this as part of the peace agreement. However, Ethiopia has refused to withdraw its troops from a border village which was awarded to Eritrea and this has been the focus of the continuing cold war between the two countries.

There are not too many issues in intnational politics which are clear, but thius is one of them... that village belongs to Eritrea and Ethiopia should move out. It should be the simplest of things for the West to put pressure on Ethiopia to withdraw and cool it off, but for some reason, or reasons, this does not happen.

The Ethiopian Government seems to lead a charmed existence where it can occupy foreign territory, invade a foreign territory (Somalia), imprison the opposition, kill its citizens on the streets and censor the press and the internet and its still gets all the help it wants and needs from its friends in the West.

Interesting to note that the US drew up a list of the top ten worst regimes ("the world's "most systematic human rights violators") of 2006 this week. This list included all the most demonised regimes such as Cuba, North Korea, Burma, Belarus and Zimbabwe, and while there was room on the list for Eritrea, quite remarkably there was no room for Ethiopia. It just wouldn't do to embarrass one of your great friends and allies in your war on Terror, would it? In the meantime, the citizens of both countries are suffereing terribly under their strong-man regimes.

As it happens, it might be the case that the Britons who were captured a week ago, are being held by yet another player in this area, namely the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, which presumably just wants to see all Afar lands united, not such a bad ideal, I suppose.

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