Skip navigation
Help

Horn of Africa

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/vhosts/sayforward.com/subdomains/recorder/httpdocs/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopia and Eritrea are still at each others’ throats. The two neighbours fought hammer and tongs in sun-baked trenches during a two-year war over a decade ago, before a peace deal ended their World War I-style conflict in 2000. Furious veRed Sea, UNrbal battles, however, have continued to this day.

Yet, amid the blistering rhetoric and scares over a return to war, analysts say the feuding rivals are reluctant to lock horns once again. Neighbouring South Sudan and some Ethiopian politicians are working on plans to bring both sides to the negotiating table.

Asmara has been named, shamed and then slapped with two sets of U.N. sanctions over charges that it was aiding and abetting al Qaeda-linked rebels in lawless Somalia in its proxy war with Ethiopia. However, a panel tasked with monitoring violations of an arms embargo on Somalia said it had no proof of Eritrean support to the Islamist militants in the last year.

Nevertheless, Eritrea's foreign ministry wasted little time in pointing a finger of accusation at its perennial rival. “The events over the past year have clearly shown that it is in fact Ethiopia that is actively engaged in destabilising Eritrea in addition to its continued occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory in violation of the U.N. Charter,” the ministry said in a statement last month.

The Red Sea state was referring to Addis Ababa’s open declaration in 2011 in which its late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his country would no longer take a “passive stance” towards its rival following Eritrea’s alleged plot to bomb targets in the Ethiopian capital during an African Union gathering of heads of state.

Then foreign minister (and now premier) Hailemariam Desalegn followed up on the rhetoric soon afterwards by disclosing his government’s support to Eritrean rebels. Meles and Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki were once comrades-in-arms, even rumoured to be distant relatives. Ethiopia’s late leader rubber-stamped a 1993 referendum that granted independence to the former province after their rebel groups jointly toppled Communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military junta two years earlier.

The love affair did not last long. The pair fell out spectacularly after Eritrea introduced its own currency in 1997 and Ethiopia responded by insisting on trading in dollars. Their economic spat aggravated already simmering border tensions, which culminated in Eritrea deploying its tanks months later and occupying hotly disputed territory that was under Addis Ababa’s administration.

Ethiopian troops breached Eritrea’s trenches nearly a year later and retook contested ground - namely the flashpoint town of Badme – before a peace deal was signed. What then followed is the sticking point that remains today. An independent boundary commission awarded Badme to Eritrea in 2002 but the ruling is yet to take effect. Ethiopia wants to negotiate its implementation and warns that delimitation of the border as per the finding would unreasonably split towns and other geographical locations into two.

Asmara on the other hand insists on an immediate hand-over. The bickering has evolved into a proxy war and diplomatic skulduggery as both sides attempt to bring about regime change in the other. But despite the harsh words, mediation efforts are in the pipeline. Deng Alor, neighbouring South Sudan's Minister for Cabinet Affairs, told Reuters on Wednesday his newly-independent country is about to embark on rounds of shuttle diplomacy between the capitals of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Both countries, he said, have given their blessing.

A handful of Ethiopian members of parliament are also devising a similar initiative, local sources say. Addis Ababa has never ruled out mediation. But even though Eritrea publicly dismisses any idea of a thaw in strained relations before the Badme spat is resolved, recent developments might change its mind, some believe.

Ethiopian analysts think Asmara now realises that its neighbour may easily adopt a more belligerent stance following the sudden death of Meles, who they say stood firm against a potential slide towards full-scale conflict. And of course not all Ethiopians express enthusiasm about an independent Eritrea, the creation of which left their country without access to the Red Sea.

Some diplomats say the chances of both sides making drastic concessions from their current positions remain slim. So will the mediation efforts finally yield a deal?

0
Your rating: None

Pakistani Nargis Shah, 13, enjoys playing on a swing along with other children on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 15, 2011.

A mother mourns the death of her son at the Banadir hospital on August 16, 2011 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The hospital has been overwhelmed by new patients, as sickness spreads through camps for people displaced by drought and famine. The US government estimates that some 30,000 children have died in southern Somalia in the last 90 days from the crisis.

Two naval officers react outside for services for U.S.Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Joseph Strange at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011, in Philadelphia. Strange was assigned to the Navy SEAL team whose Chinook helicopter was shot down Aug. 6 by a rocket-propelled grenade in what has become the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan.

 August 19, 2011

1

Pakistani Nargis Shah, 13, enjoys playing on a swing along with other children on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Nathalie Bardou) #

 August 19, 2011

2

Indian students of Sri Vishnu Mahadeo Ved Pathshala wrap themselves with saffron cloth after bathing on the banks of the River Ganges on the occasion of Shravan Purnima in Allahabad, India, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011. Shravan Purnima, a full moon day, is an auspicious day in Hinduism and several festivals fall on this day. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

 August 19, 2011

3

A Nepalese devotee walks surrounded by trees on his way to a temple to offer prayers on the occasion of Janai Purnima festival, or Sacred Thread festival, in Kavre district, some 46 kilometers (28 miles) east of capital Katmandu, Nepal, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011. On Janai Purnima Hindus take holy baths and perform their annual change of the Janai, a sacred cotton string worn around their chest or tied on the wrist, in the belief that it will protect and purify them. (AP Photo/Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi) #

 August 19, 2011

4

A mother mourns the death of her son at the Banadir hospital on August 16, 2011 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The hospital has been overwhelmed by new patients, as sickness spreads through camps for people displaced by drought and famine. The US government estimates that some 30,000 children have died in southern Somalia in the last 90 days from the crisis. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) #

 August 19, 2011

5

Supporters of Indian rights activist Anna Hazare try to block a police van after he was detained prior to beginning a hunger strike in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011. The prominent activist who had announced an indefinite hunger strike to demand tougher anti-corruption laws was detained early Tuesday morning, police said. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup) #

 August 19, 2011

6

In this Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 photo, children watch, from behind a fence, the Deopokhari festival in Khokana, Katmandu, Nepal. The festival is held to appease, what locals believe is, a demon in the pond. Every year on this day cattle is sacrificed to the pond demon so that no human lives are lost drowning in the pond, what locals allege was a common occurrence before the festival began. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha) #

 August 19, 2011

7

A child reaches out to touch a huge straw sandal dedicated to a Buddhist temple in Tokyo Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa) #

 August 19, 2011

8

A famine refugee plays next to a camp for Somalis displaced by drought and famine on August 18, 2011 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have fled their villages to Mogadishu in the last two months due to the crisis. Some 1.5 million Somalis are estimated displaced nationwide due to drought, famine and war. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) #

 August 19, 2011

9

Two naval officers react outside for services for U.S.Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Joseph Strange, a cryptology technician, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011, in Philadelphia. Strange was assigned to the Navy SEAL team whose Chinook helicopter was shot down Aug. 6 by a rocket-propelled grenade in what has become the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) #

 August 19, 2011

10

Fans waiting to see Sugarland run away after high winds blew the stage over at the Indiana State Fair Grandstands, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, in Indianapolis. About a dozen people are reported to have injuries after the stage collapsed. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Matt Kryger) #

 August 19, 2011

11

A photographer takes pictures of a newlyweds couple posing against the scenic spot at Shidu, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. Shidu, which means "10 ferry crossings" in Chinese, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #

 August 19, 2011

12

A demonstrator holds up a spoon in front of the face of a police officer during a demonstration in Santiago, Chile, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. Students have been striking for more than two months now and marching by the tens of thousands calling for free and equal quality education. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia) #

 August 19, 2011

13

The sun sets as amusement rides and fun continue on opening day of the Illinois State Fair, Friday Aug. 12, 2011 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill. The Illinois State Fair will run Aug. 12-21. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) #

 August 19, 2011

14

Egyptian children play as their family awaits Iftar, the meal to break their fast at sunset, during the holy month of Ramadan inside the Al-Azhar mosque, near the Khan el-Khalili market, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. During Ramadan, Muslims worldwide fast from sunrise to sunset. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill) #

 August 19, 2011

15

An Afghan woman, Bibi Hur, cries over her injured daughter at a hospital in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. Bibi Hur has lost three of her children and two more injured by a road side bomb, Hur said. The roadside bomb killed at least 20 passengers traveling on a minibus Thursday in western Afghanistan, another example of civilians being caught in the crossfire of the fighting between Taliban insurgents and the U.S.-led coalition. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi) #

 August 19, 2011

16

A priest takes confession from a pilgrim inside a temporary confesional in the Retiro park ahead to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid Wednesday Aug. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

 August 19, 2011

17

In this Aug. 15, 2011 photo, Andrea Mari and his horse Fedora Saura of the Giraffa (Giraffe) neighborhood in Siena, Italy, warm up in Piazza del Campo during a training session in view of the Palio, the famous break-neck bareback horse race around Siena's main square. The annual Palio pits Siena neighborhoods against one another and it's a major tourist draw for this Tuscan city. Each neighborhood puts up a horse and rider to race three times around the slippery, dirt covered cobblestone track. (AP Photo/Paolo Lazzeroni) #

 August 19, 2011

18

An Afgan boy has his eyes checked by Medic Stephan Flynn on the Medivac helicopter of 159th Brigade Task Force Thunder during a flight to a hospital in Kandahar on August 16, 2011. The boy was wounded after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED). Violence against civilians is at a record high in the war, with more than 1,400 Afghan civilians killed in the conflict this year, up 15 percent on the first half of 2010, according to a recently released United Nations report. AFP PHOTO/Johannes EISELE #

 August 19, 2011

19

Mulmillo (L) closes the eyes of her two-year-old son Mahmud moments after he died from malnutrition and related complications at a local hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on August 15, 2011. Mulmillo, her husband and three children fled their village in the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia and came to Mogadishu in search for a refuge from a severe drought in the region. More than 100,000 people have fled to Mogadishu from other drought-struck Somalia regions in search of food and water, but insecurity in one of the world's most dangerous cities is hampering aid flows. Some 12 million people in parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia are in danger of starvation in the wake of the region's worst drought in decades. AFP PHOTO / ROBERTO SCHMIDT #

 August 19, 2011

20

Transsexual Wendy Iriepa rides in a classic car to her wedding in Havana, Cuba, Saturday Aug. 13, 2011. Iriepa, whose sex change operation was paid for by the state, tied the knot with Ignacio Estrada in a first-of-its-kind wedding for Cuba. Gay marriage is not legal in Cuba and Saturday's wedding does nothing to change that since Iriepa is legally considered a woman. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) #

0
Your rating: None

With East Africa facing its worst drought in 60 years, affecting more than 11 million people, the United Nations has declared a famine in the region for the first time in a generation. Overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia are receiving some 3,000 new refugees every day, as families flee from famine-stricken and war-torn areas. The meager food and water that used to support millions in the Horn of Africa is disappearing rapidly, and families strong enough to flee for survival must travel up to a hundred miles, often on foot, hoping to make it to a refugee center, seeking food and aid. Many do not survive the trip. Officials warn that 800,000 children could die of malnutrition across the East African nations of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya. Aid agencies are frustrated by many crippling situations: the slow response of Western governments, local governments and terrorist groups blocking access, terrorist and bandit attacks, and anti-terrorism laws that restrict who the aid groups can deal with -- not to mention the massive scale of the current crisis. Below are a few images from the past several weeks in East Africa. One immediate way to help is to text "FOOD" to UNICEF (864233) to donate $10, enough to feed a child for 10 days, more ways to help listed here. [38 photos]

Mihag Gedi Farah, a malnourished seven-month-old child weighing only 7.5 pound (3.4kg), is held by his mother in a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on July 26, 2011. The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago, in a crisis intervention to keep hungry refugees from dying along what an official calls the "roads of death." Tens of thousands already have trekked to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, hoping to get aid in refugee camps. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

0
Your rating: None