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Addis Ababa, 9 July 2017- The Chairperson of the AUC announced on 3 July 2017, during the 29th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union that an AU High Level delegation led by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui will travel to Asmara, Eritrea to discuss with the authorities of Eritrea the developments in the region, and also exchange views on the AU’s initiative to develop a Horn of Africa Strategy.                   

At the request of the Eritrean authorities and due to a conflicting calendar, new dates will be agreed upon through consultations with the Eritrean government.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission reiterates his determination to spare no effort in promoting dialogue, peace and security in the Horn of Africa.



On Thursday, 6 July 2017, the European Parliament passed an important resolution on the EU’s relations with Eritrea.

It highlight – once again – the human rights abuses of the Eritrean government, including the detention of Abune Antonios and the journalist Dawit Isaak. But the resolution went further to make key demands on the EU. The resolution:

  1. Denounced the resumption of major EU aid to Eritrea and in particular the signing off of the NIP for Eritrea of EUR 200 million
  2. Demanded action to halt the 2% tax
  3. Urged an end to the forcible return of Eritreans – refoulment.
  4. Supported the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
  5. Demanded that the Commission obtain guarantees from the Eritrean Government that it will implement democratic reforms and ensure respect for human rights

…and much more.

Full text below. Martin

Source: European Parliament

Wieder Demonstrationen gegen Eritrea 08.07.2017

GIESSEN - (ebp). "So lange die Diktatur nicht beendet ist, werden wir jedes Jahr demonstrieren" zeigt sich Klaus-Dieter Grothe kämpferisch. Wie auch in den vergangenen Jahren hatte der Grünen-Stadtverordnete eine Kundgebung angemeldet, um gegen das Eritrea-Festival in den Hessenhallen zu demonstrieren - und mehr als 100 Gleichgesinnte schlossen sich ihm an.


Darunter auch Abraham Kiros, der nicht verstehen kann, wieso das Festival überhaupt genehmigt wird: "Wir haben in Deutschland die Freiheit bekommen, aber der Diktator verfolgt uns bis hierher". Das sieht auch Mussa Ibrahim so. Es sei eine "Unverschämtheit, dass das Festival ausgerechnet in Gießen stattfindet". Denn viele Menschen, die vor dem diktatorischen Regime geflohen seien, hätten auch in der Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung Zuflucht gefunden. In den Hessenhallen ist das umstrittene Festival derweil im vollen Gange. Es läuft Musik, Waffeln werden gebacken, mittendrin spielen ein paar Mädchen Volleyball. Auch eine Hüpfburg steht parat. Auf den ersten Blick wirkt es wie ein großes Familienfest - wären da nicht die vielen eritreischen Nationalflaggen und Plakate, die sich mit der Geschichte des Landes beschäftigen. Kritische Stimmen sucht man hier vergeblich. "Ein Vierteljahrhundert voller Stabilität und Entwicklung" steht auf Englisch auf einem Banner.

"Es gibt viele Dinge, die in Eritrea gut laufen", sagt Dirk Vogelsang von der Deutsch-Eritreischen Gesellschaft im Gespräch mit dem Anzeiger und verweist auf Zahlen, wonach 80 Prozent der Eritreer Zugang zu sauberem Trinkwasser haben. Man wolle die Probleme nicht verschweigen, könne jedoch nicht verstehen, "wieso an Eritrea Maßstäbe angelegt werden, wie an kein anderes afrikanisches Land". Während drinnen gefeiert wird, wird draußen weiter demonstriert. "Ihr tanzt auf den Leichen eurer Brüder und Schwestern", prangt auf einem Plakat. Andere Demonstranten halten blutige Bilder in die Höhe, auf denen Folgen der Misshandlungen durch die Regierung zu sehen sein sollen.

"In den Hessenhallen treffen sich Vertreter und Unterstützer einer der schlimmsten Diktaturen der Welt" klagt Klaus-Dieter Grothe, während die Demonstranten im Hintergrund "enough is enough" skandieren - zu Deutsch: genug ist genug. "In Eritrea existiert kein Rechtssystem. Menschen werden verhaftet und keiner weiß, wo sie landen" so der Grünen-Politiker.

EUROPEAN ministers today suggested they are now considering a radical shift in their migration strategy which would see EU vessels start turning migrant boats around and sending them back to North Africa.

By Nick Gutteridge, Brussels Correspondent
PUBLISHED: 13:29, Thu, Jul 6, 2017 | UPDATED: 14:06, Thu, Jul 6, 2017

A migrant boat in the MediterraneanGETTY

EU ministers are meeting to discuss migration to Italy today

Interior chiefs from Estonia, Belgium and the Netherlands all said Brussels needs to find ways of significantly upping the rate of deportations of economic migrants if it is to survive the latest spike in the continent’s migration crisis. 

Eurocrats are now set to draw up a code of conduct, at the behest of Italy, which will govern how NGOs operating search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean should coordinate their operations with EU member states in the future. 

A number of prominent Italian politicians have accused charities of acting as a taxi service for migrants and even communicating with people smuggling gangs to coordinate rescues - allegations aid workers furiously deny. 

But arriving at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Estonia this morning several heavy hitters from across the continent hinted that patience with the current situation is now wearing thin, with 10,000 people arriving at Italian ports every day. 

Rome has warned its reception facilities are close to collapsing under the strain and has threatened to start turning rescue vessels away from its shores, urging other member states to begin opening up their ports and sharing the burden instead. 
Today there was little appetite amongst the remaining EU countries for doing so, but there were suggestions the bloc could start turning migrant boats back to Libya as a way of alleviating the growing pressure on Italy. 
EU officials have said that the vast majority of those arriving in Italy from North Africa are not refugees, but "manifestly" economic migrants. French president Emmanuel Macron put the figure at "over 80 per cent" whilst the the UN has said it is around seven in 10. 

Dutch interior minister Stephanus BlokEbS

Dutch interior minister Stephanus Blok said African ports have a role to play

Belgian asylum minister Theo FranckenEbS

Belgian Theo Francken said the current chaos in Italy cannot go on

Dutch interior minister Stephanus Blok said: “We need to work out both a better entrance system but also a better system to bring back people who are not entitled to asylum. It cannot remain as it is now. 

“Just opening more ports will not solve the problem by itself. We should also discuss the role that African ports should play in this field. We should take the African ports also into account."

His Belgian counterpart, Theo Francken, also suggested a new approach may be necessary stating that the current procedure of “bringing everybody to Europe” cannot go on in light of the huge numbers being rescued. 

Asked if he agreed with a code of conduct for NGOs, he replied: "I'm absolutely pro. I think it’s very good that we have a code of conduct with the NGOs.

“We have to save people but the solution is not in bringing everybody to Europe. That is not the solution, that will only increase the problem.” 

And grilled on Italy’s suggestion that other member states open up their ports to migrant boats, he added: “I don’t think we’re going to open Belgian ports, no.”

Estonian interior minister Andrea Anvelt, whose country currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, said European countries need to send a “clear message” that economic migrants will be deported swiftly. 

He said: “If we will not send the clear messages that we can return, once more time return policy is the preventive and key word in immigration crises. 

“So if we send the people back this will be the first and most important preventive measure that there’s no reason to come here if you don’t have the right. 

“The key programme is the return policy. How the people who don’t have right to international protection can be quickly and efficiently sent back to third countries. 

“Those are the steps the EU has to take as quickly as possible. Legal migration is a possibility but illegal migration and also economic migration have to be stopped.” 

War torn Libya, which has two rival governments, is not considered a safe third country by the EU and there are question marks over whether turning boats back is legal under international law.

Refugees and migrants wait in a small rubber boat to be rescued off Lampedusa, Italy

But EU leaders do want to strike a deal with the internationally recognised administration in Tripoli similar to the one they have with Turkey in an attempt to stem the huge numbers of arrivals. 

And they could also try to reach agreements with other North African states, such as Tunisia and Egypt, which may be prepared to take on some of the migration burden in return for huge injections of aid cash. 

Under the terms of Brussels’ pact with Ankara all economic migrants are returned across the Aegean, with one genuine refugee from a Turkish camp being housed for every person sent back. 

NGOs and some politicians also fear that the EU’s proposed code of conduct, which will be directed by Italy, will effectively be designed to act as a break on their search and rescue operations. 

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos insisted Brussels was not turning against charities, saying it had “no problems” with their activities in the Mediterranean. 

He added: “The idea behind this proposal is how to make our relations more functional through a more coordinated way. NGOs are contributing in a complimentary way but in a very substantial way to better do our job on the ground.”


  • 5 July 2017
  • From the section Africa 
People working in EritreaImage caption Some 30% of the new jobs will be reserved for refugees

Many thousands of Eritreans have fled the country for Europe in search for a better life. A multinational initiative is now trying to stem the flow of migrants to Europe by training refugees and giving them jobs in neighbouring Ethiopia.

"I was not sure we would make it across. I am so relieved we are here," says 19-year-old Salama - not his real name.

Together with his friend Abiro, they have been walking for two days from Eritrea, without any food or water. At one point, they claim to have been shot at by government soldiers who are stationed along the heavily militarised border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

"The reason for fleeing from our country is because the Eritrean government keeps on forcing us to join the national service and we are wanted in our homeland.

"We walked through the bushes hiding not to be seen by the Eritrean soldiers and we were able to escape," says Salama, the more talkative of the two.

poster in Ethiopia discouraging people from trying to go to EuropeImage caption The UN has launched a campaign to warn people about the dangers of trying to get to Europe

Recent weeks have seen hundreds of Eritreans arrive at refugee camps and reception centres along Ethiopia's northern border.

Many of those who reach Ethiopia intend to move on to Sudan and then Libya, hoping to eventually get to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea but some end up settling in Ethiopia.

It's a risky journey that involves thousands of dollars and an intricate network of smugglers.

More than 2,000 people have died so far this year trying to make the crossing.

"I am not sure where we will go from here. It's our first time out of Eritrea. Maybe we can settle here and get jobs," says Abiro, speaking in his mother tongue Kunama.

"If not, we will move as far away as possible. Maybe Europe."

Through the translator, I ask them what they know about Europe and they shake their heads, indicating they know nothing.

Eritreans make up the seventh largest group of people who arrive in Europe each year seeking asylum, according to the UN, even though the total population is less than 6 million.

Migrants on a boatImage copyright Getty Images Image caption A high proportion of African migrants trying to reach Europe are from Eritrea

But the government in Eritrea has dismissed such figures and says that people from other countries are posing as Eritrean refugees.

Information Minister Yemane Gebre Meskel told the BBC that the number of Eritrean refugees leaving the country was much lower.

"The numbers of Eritreans leaving the country is much inflated; by most accounts 40 to 60% are from Ethiopia and/or other countries in the Horn."

Donors and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) are trying to dissuade young people like Salama and Abiro from making that journey by creating jobs for refugees in Ethiopia as part of a multinational deal.

The UK, European Union (EU) and the World Bank have already invested $500m (£400m) into the programme.

According to the plan, the industrial parks will be set up in the towns of Mekelle, Jimma and Ziway, creating more than 100,000 jobs.

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

Some 30,000 of the jobs will be reserved for refugees. Ethiopia hosts nearly 800,000 refugees, mainly from Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan.

"This becomes even more important in a country like Ethiopia, where most of the refugees are dreaming to continue onward and the reason they give is that they don't see their future here and don't know what to do," says UNHCR regional head Fafa Attidzah.

At the refugee camps, authorities are already preparing for the job opportunities by training refugees in areas such as masonry, carpentry, cookery and sewing. There are also computer classes for some of the younger inhabitants.

Eritrea at a glance:

  • Gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 but relations remain tense
  • Opposition parties and private media banned
  • Conscription can last for decades, human rights groups say
  • One of largest countries of origins for Africa refugees arriving in Europe
  • Government says problems exaggerated and blames problems on Western backers of Ethiopia

Find out more about Eritrea

Has Eritrea's migration problem been exaggerated?

The UN has started a programme to make sure more people are warned about the dangers of making the journey.

Eritrea says its tense relations with neighbouring Ethiopia are behind its system of national conscription, which can last for decades.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long civil war and the two countries then fought a 1998-2000 border war that left an estimated 80,000 dead.

Eritrea has also dismissed the job creation programme, with the information minister calling it "ludicrous... with a sinister political agenda".

"What we need is peace and for Ethiopia to respect international decisions [meaning the decision to award Eritrea the disputed border town of Badme]."

Refugees at camp in EthiopiaImage caption Eritrea's government says the number of refugees has been inflated and that many are actually Ethiopians

But will jobs in Ethiopia be enough to stop the movement of refugees?

Teklemariam, who has twice attempted to get to Europe and failed, tells me much more needs to be done in refugee host countries to sway those who want to move to Europe.

"I try to tell them that it is not safe trying that journey. Sometimes they listen to me, sometimes they don't, but training like this is good, because if they learn some trade, maybe they will stay."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn says such programmes are not just important for refugees but also for millions of young unemployed people in his country.

"We have to address this issue critically because we understand our situation well and that's why we are investing resources in making sure our children are safe, and can make a living."

While many refugees here are happy at the prospects of getting jobs and restarting their lives in a foreign land, many more remain unconvinced, and are determined to risk everything for a chance at a better life in Europe.


Eritrea: Anecdotes of indefinite anarchy

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 14:56 Written by

A pastiche of daily encounters illuminating the disfigured Dadaist reality of present-day Eritrea.

05 Jul 2017 11:45 GMT |


Anecdotes like these have been the new normal in Eritrea for over a decade now, writes Zere [AP]Anecdotes like these have been the new normal in Eritrea for over a decade now, writes Zere [AP]


Abraham T. Zere is the executive director of PEN Eritrea in exile.

If available at all, facts about many crucial issues in Eritrea fail to capture the reality in the country. Reading the news about Eritrea, an outsider would not understand the extent and complexity of its transformation: from a country with a promising future into the personal fiefdom of President Isaias Afwerki and his clique at the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ).

A pastiche of daily encounters does a better job of illuminating the disfigured Dadaist reality of present-day Eritrea.

Pasta and oil instead of lectures

The Eritrean government closed the only university in Eritrea, the University of Asmara, in 2006, after the last class finished their studies and no new students were admitted. I had been working in the university as teaching assistant at the Department of Eritrean Languages and Literature since October 2004. After the closure, the staff and faculty continued to report to work for a year. We were still receiving our salaries, but we didn't have any classes to teach. We had no obligation to show up to "work". However, we continued to do so because our food rations were being distributed at the university campus. With the ruling party rationing the most basic food items, such as pasta, cooking oil and grain, and with no students to attend to, faculty found food rations the only worthwhile topic of conversation at the university. As shares were distributed, bits of pasta and leaks of cooking oil became common in faculty offices, along with professors hauling bags full of food items away from the campus.

When the military conquered education

After a year in limbo, the regime reassigned faculty and staff of the University of Asmara to under-equipped semi-military colleges that had been established about three years earlier. Students of these colleges were assigned into military divisions and they were forced to attend military training regularly, alongside their classes. Since then, the quality of education has been astutely deteriorating with the colleges in effect becoming refuges of indefinite limbo. My first responsibility as a faculty member in the new college was to supervise exams. While working as a proctor at the exams, I couldn't help noticing fresh faces wearing uniforms in the college lecture halls. When I asked a colleague about these people, he told me they were "military police, assigned to supervise".

Four pieces of bread

In 2010, when I was taking the public bus home in Asmara, I noticed Sara sitting at a bus stop heading in the other direction, obviously waiting for the bus. A few days later when we met, I asked her what had brought her to our neighbourhood that day. "You know, I lived in your neighbourhood before I moved to my current location, but our bread ration is still there," she explained. "The shopkeeper is kind enough to reserve my ration," she said. "So, I go to her shop and collect my ration every other day". 

OPINION: Remembering the Eritrean dream on Independence Day

Normally bread rations are supposed to be collected daily from officially designated shops in the early hours of the morning. Sara had three children and she was entitled to receive a ration of four pieces of bread - three for her children and one for her - for each day. Knowing the hassles and delays of public transport in Eritrea, not to mention how overcrowded the buses are, I marvelled at her taking two buses to reach her destination.

How much time was she spending every other day to fetch these eight pieces of bread for a two-day ration? I asked her. She responded, "Sometimes, if I get fuel [contrabanded], I use my car, other times a bicycle, but the buses take me about an hour to go and another hour to return". Sara was in her later forties and had been the country representative of a United Nations office at one time.

The making of truth

Sometime around 2010-11, the Ministry of Information came up with an unconventional but creative way of delivering "news". They would write a strongly worded editorial - the usual screeds denouncing the international community or highlighting the achievements of the nation in the face of continued hostilities. Two or three days later, they would publish a news article on the editorial and credit the aforementioned editorial as the source. When they did this for the first time, I had a good laugh about it with my friend Yonatan, who also studied journalism. "You know what?" said Yonatan, "They will continue to do this and soon we will normalise it". As he predicted, the practice of manufacturing news from editorials became an established and accepted tradition over the years, normalised by both journalists and the public.

Updating the list of the dead

Sometime in 2011, I stumbled onto Kibreab in Asmara, an amateur poet who also had written a film script. I knew him through a mutual friend, also a poet. Since 2001, we had met frequently at the offices of Zemen, one of the now-banned private newspapers to which I had contributed. "Are our friends still in prison, or are they released?" he asked me immediately after we greeted each other. Some of our mutual friends, including the poet who introduced us, had been taken into custody in 2009 when Radio Bana, the only educational radio station sponsored by Eritrea's Ministry of Education, was raided and later banned by the military. "Of course, they are still in prison; how would you miss it if they had been released?" I answered. "It is sad," he said, "So Amanuel Asrat and his group are also still in custody, I assume?" He was referring to journalists including Asrat who have been languishing incommunicado in detention since September 2001. I did not know how to respond and walked away thinking about the journalists who have never been heard of apart from sporadic news delivered by former prison guards who had fled the country. The news is scant, usually enough to update the list of the deceased detained journalists and other political prisoners.

The bus ride to Asmara

After University of Asmara was closed, my college, the College of Arts and Social Sciences was re-located to Adi-Kieh, about 110km south of the capital. As the town has barely any facilities, it became natural for all of the staff members and most students to come to Asmara for a weekend to relax. With extremely dilapidated roads, the handful of public buses operating (private cars are unimaginable), overcrowded with students and faculty, would take about half a day to reach Asmara (Google maps estimated the distance as 1:30 hours). The weekly scenes of chaos at the bus terminals started with long and disorderly queues at 4am. The bus conductors, in their teens, suddenly assumed the roles of the infamous military commanders in the country, insulting, pushing, and ruthlessly belittling the desperate passengers. Senior professors in their 60s were forced to stoop and beg for the compassion of the erratic teenage dictators.

IN PICTURES: The Eritreans fleeing to Ethiopia

Two years after leaving the college and coming to the US, unsoundly expecting some dramatic changes might have had happened after my departure, I asked my colleague Yonatan if anything had improved. "Of course, there is major change," told me Yonatan as if he were waiting all the time to share his achievement, "I mastered how to bribe the bus conductors. I pay them 250-300 Nakfa and secure my seat without a hassle." The normal fare was 60 Nakfa.

Ministry employee by day, civilian guard by night

When my friend Tesfai, who worked at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, travelled out of Eritrea for the first time on a work visit to China in 2014, I had a long phone conversation with him to catch up on what had been happening in the two years since I had left the country. One thing that had happened was that the government introduced a new law, requiring all citizens between the ages of 18 and 70 to carry arms and guard government buildings in the evenings. As it was nearly impossible to talk on the phone at ease with Tesfai while he was in Asmara, now free of the presumed tapping of every phone conversation adopted by the whole Eritrean populace, I asked Tesfai how he is coping with the new requirement. "I have a gun at home, but I am not regularly doing the evening duties of guarding," he said. "What would be the consequences?" I asked him. "They might imprison me for two or three months or even more, but I am ready for that," he replied.

Quitting can get you jailed

During a phone conversation, last week with a friend who works as a teacher in Asmara, he casually remarked that the currency note redemption of early 2016 had severely affected many people. According to the new policy, nationals cannot withdraw more than 5,000 nakfa at any given month from their own savings; the amount barely covers one month's rent for a two-bedroom house in the capital. My friend told me that he and other colleagues had stopped being paid for their second job. He explained that the government introduced a new policy, prohibiting anyone from being on more than one payroll at a time.

"I have not been paid in my second job since early 2016," he tells me. As there is no such private sector, the only employer in the country is also either the government or the ruling party.

READ MORE: Exiled Eritreans campaign for freedom of journalists

"If you have not been paid for more than a year and now six months, why do you continue working there? Why not quit?" I ask bewildered.

"We continue working with the hope that they reconsider and collectively pay us all. But more than that many of us are afraid it will be considered public disobedience and seen as open confrontation to the government," he replied.

The general's new girlfriend

As a certain general became empowered by the president with indisputable authority, his girlfriend (he is married and has a family) also became very influential. "The current girlfriend is humble and is mature in comparison to her age (she is in her early 20s). In fact, she has helped many prisoners of conscience be released," tells me Teclai who had a small business in Asmara and had a rough time with the previous girlfriend of the general. "The other one was notorious. If you have any dispute or even slightly irritated her, she just calls the infamous military prison chiefs and they will come right away to round you up from the streets."

Such anecdotes have been the new normal in Eritrea for over a decade now. That is also one of the reasons why some of the international media outlets - if allowed access to the country after the routine rejections - cannot fully grasp the absurdity and steep descent into the abyss.

Abraham T Zere is a US-based Eritrean writer and journalist who is serving as the executive director of PEN Eritrea in exile. Among others, his articles - that mainly deal with Eritrea's gross human rights abuses and lack of freedom of expression - have appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and the Index on Censorship Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @abraham_zere

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


Eritrea Liberty Magazine Issue 45

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 00:55 Written by

July 2, 2017July 2, 2017, posted in Uncategorized

Kazakhstan as source of military equipments

On June 29, 2017, reported that a senior Eritrean delegation comprising Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, Presidential Advisor Mr. Yemane Gebreab and Ambassador Petros Tsegai are on a working visit to Kazakhstan. It is not a surprise if the only existing mouth of the totalitarian regime reported the news as a diplomatic visit by hiding the secret deal behind it. However, one sentence between the 99 words news report has every clue we can predict on. The sentence reads:

“They also reached to understanding on the priority areas of cooperation in the sectors of trade, investment mining as well as agriculture and transportation.”

one may wonder then what type of trade agreement could have been reached. It is is not that difficult to synthesize and reach a conclusion that the sole purpose of such trade agreement is basically on “military equipment.” Eritrea has a severe sanction on importing military types of equipment.

Since the border crisis of 1998-2000, Eritrea is suffering for getting a reliable source of military equipment that goes with its poor economic status. Russia, Ukraine, Iran and China were the principal sources. However, because of Eritrea’s immature diplomacy and its exposure to world scrutiny, no country is willing to give a sustainable market for its demand.

When Russia and Ukraine went into political crisis, and Crimea decided to separate from Ukraine, a high-level Eritrean delegation headed by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and including Mr. Yemane Gebreab visited Crimea and gave an official recognition for its separation. Ukraine condemned Eritrea’s visit. All these were done to please Russia. Russia and North Korea were by then the only source of military equipment to Eritrea. Because of Russia’s interference on extended war zones and huge market opportunity for military equipment, and Eritrea’s accusation by the USA on its military deal with North Korea, and China’s shift in its global strategy, Eritrea got itself in a limbo. Exploring new source of military equipment is a must to be looked for.

With the No-war-No-peace situation with Ethiopia, constant alert of conflicts along the Red Sea basin, The Gulf crisis, potential conflicts within Sudan and South Sudan, and now the renewed border crisis with Djibouti, all obliges Eritrea to equip itself with military equipment stocks.

Within scenario and the already existing sanction, open markets are not favored by Eritrea. Instead, least known countries like Kazakhstan is a good opportunity for Eritrea to make trade agreements that can supply its military equipment deficit.

Kazakhstan, a former USSR member, has a modest technology of producing military equipment. It is also a strategic marketplace for the Far East countries juncture of trades. Russia, China, North Korea and all other countries that are actively producing military equipment can land Kazakhstan to trade their materials.

Some facts about Kazakhstan

A. During the Soviet Era (Source: click here)

  1. Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was the most significant site of military-industrial activity in Central Asia. The Republic was home to roughly 3 percent of Soviet defense facilities, including more than fifty enterprises and 75,000 workers, located mostly in the predominantly Russian northern parts of the country.
  2. A plant in Öskemen fabricated beryllium and nuclear reactor fuel and another at Aqtau produced uranium ore. Plants in Oral manufactured heavy machine guns for tanks and antiship missiles. In Petropavl, one plant produced SS-21 short-range ballistic missiles, and other plants manufactured torpedoes and naval communications equipment, support equipment for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), tactical missile launcher equipment, artillery, and armored vehicles. There was a torpedo-producing facility in Almaty as well. Chemical and biological weapons were produced in Aksu, and chemical weapons were manufactured in Pavlodar.

Though Kazakstan suffers from the inadequate budget on its military expenses, it is continuing its traditional military partnership with Russia. For example, the Second International Exhibition of Weapons System and Military Equipment (KADEX-2012) held in 2012 in Kazakhstan shows its military equipment production potential and its active engagement in the provision of such products to the world market.  In the 4th international exhibition of the year 2016, an agreement reached between Jordan and Kazakhstan is the best example to see how serious is this country in this trade.

Those above trends show that 2017 Eritrea’s delegate visit to Kazakhstan is nothing but an agreement of army equipment.

Eritrea has chosen war over peace with its neighboring countries. The existing border conflict with Djibouti needs a peaceful negotiation to settle the border dispute. The building of military forces will help neither Eritrea not Djibouti. The withdrawal of Qatar should not be a reason to stop peace agreements. Rather another force, preferably African Union(AU) should replace the role of Qatar so that the conflict to end as soon as possible.

Eritrea will continue to create havoc in the horn of Africa; What other countries should learn is that Eritrea loses nothing as it is already a failed state. What those other countries should refrain from is that getting under the trap of Eritrea’s warmongering mindset is not a solution but a disaster for their own peace and security. Therefore, a careful method of containing Eritrea should be followed to avoid further conflict.

Those countries which are supplying Eritrea military equipments should also know that Eritrea is not using it’s for its own security but to disturb the peaceful existence of the horn of Africa. They should, therefore, abstain themselves from making any military equipment trade agreements. Otherwise, they are selling arms to a terrorist regime.

Kazakhstan as non-permanent member of UNSC

Eritrea is under UN sanction since 2011. So far, no hope exists on lifting this sanction. however, Eritrea never stopped from looking countries within the UNSC that can sympathize so that this sanction can be uplifted.

As Kazakhstan is a non-permanent member of UNSC, Eritrea hopes Kazakhstan to cooperate in lifting the sanction. Though it is impossible, if Eritrea continues to engage in trade activities, there could be possibilities of showing some interest in the Eritrean matters.


The renewed Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute is the first ripple effect of the Gulf crisis in Africa.

18 Jun 2017 14:54 GMT |


Maintaining the 500-strong presence of Qatari armed troops in a remote area was a costly and largely thankless endeavour write Barakat and Milton [AP]Maintaining the 500-strong presence of Qatari armed troops in a remote area was a costly and largely thankless endeavour write Barakat and Milton [AP]



Sultan Barakat is the director of Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute.



Sansom Milton is a senior research fellow at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

The media has been quick to associate Qatar's decision to withdraw its peacekeeping forces from the disputed Djibouti-Eritrea border with the Gulf crisis. This connection was most likely made because Qatar's decision came only days after both Djibouti and Eritrea announced that they are siding withSaudi Arabia in the diplomatic rift and downgraded their diplomatic relations with Qatar.

The withdrawal of troops, if understood as a knee-jerk reaction, contrasts markedly with how Qatar has been operating since the start of the crisis. Qatar has not reciprocated the harsh, punitive moves of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in a tit-for-tat spiral of vindictiveness. Nor has it reacted to countries which have reduced diplomatic relations, such as Jordan, by taking retaliatory measures against its thousands of nationals working in Qatar.

While Qatar Airways offices have been sealed off in Abu Dhabi and its senior staff harassed, no such measures have been taken by Doha. Furthermore, while food supplies through Saudi Arabia and the UAE were cut, Qatar continues to supply the latter with around 57 million cubic metres of gas daily. This shows that Qatar continues to play the long game by taking the moral high ground - a strategy that looks to have paid off given the number of international diplomatic capitals that have refused to cave into the intense lobbying of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to vilify Qatar. 

READ MORE: Africa and the Gulf crisis: the peril of picking sides

Given what we know about how Qatar has operated during the crisis, the explanation that the troop withdrawal is purely a knee-jerk reaction to the downgrading of diplomatic ties does not add up. Doubtlessly, with downgraded relations, Qatar finds itself in a difficult position as a mediator and peacekeeper between the two nations. No mediator can operate effectively with reduced representation, both on a practical and reputational level. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the decision has been made in a retaliatory manner. Rather, there are three less evident reasons for why the decision to withdraw has been on the cards for some time and why it is now impossible for anyone in Qatar to advocate for maintaining the peacekeeping force.

The potential fallout of the crisis could have ripple waves spiralling out of the border dispute to the much larger Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict and the rest of the Horn of Africa at a time when the sub-region is facing a massive humanitarian crisis.

First of all, a fundamental principle of conflict mediation is that any third party must maintain a credible threat to walk away if the conflicting parties are not committed to reaching a negotiated settlement. Qatari troops have, for the past seven years, been stationed in the dusty uninhabited border region between the two East African countries to monitor the implementation of the terms of a ceasefire agreement brokered by Qatar in June 2010.

Despite consistent attempts to turn the ceasefire into a peace agreement, little progress has been made. A minor breakthrough was achieved in March 2016 when, in a deal mediated by Qatar, Eritrea released four prisoners from Djibouti's armed forces who were captured in June 2008 during border clashes. However, in the past year, the Eritrean negotiating team has disengaged from the mediation process despite the United Nations Security Council mandated-arms embargo on Eritrea being re-approved in November 2016, demanding that Eritrea release all missing prisoners and allow UN monitors to enter the country.

The two states, particularly Eritrea, have not heeded calls for border demarcation and have gone into denial by refusing to refer to the border conflict as a serious issue. The presence of the Qatari peacekeepers had allowed both parties to grow accustomed to the status quo of a mutually beneficial stalemate.

Second, Djibouti and Eritrea consistently engage in a geostrategic game of shifting alliances. When Qatar entered the fray, the Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute was a minor conflict with very few international actors showing an appetite for mediation. Since then Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti has expanded to become the largest US military base in the region, China has also entered Djibouti, while, in April 2015, Saudi Arabia and Eritrea signed a security cooperation agreement and the UAE is currently completing the construction of a military base north of the port city of Assab in Eritrea from where its armed forces have been operating in the military campaign in Yemen. This particular corner of the Horn of Africa is by now far too crowded for a small nation like Qatar to justify its military presence as a buffer.

READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

Third, maintaining the 500-strong presence of Qatari troops in a remote area is a costly and largely thankless endeavour. While the withdrawal was doubtlessly hastened by the changes in diplomatic relations with Eritrea and Djibouti, this has more to do with the infiltration of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia into Eritrea. This military presence clearly renders Qatari troops stationed thousands of miles away in an isolated area a soft target for direct or indirect retaliation. Moreover, 500 troops represent a significant investment of military manpower for an armed forces of around 12,000 during the most urgent crisis the country has faced in its history.

With Eritrea moving its forces into the contested Dumeira Mountain and Dumeira Islands, the temperature of the conflict has been increased and the situation is now more explosive than ever before, for all actors involved. The rapid development of the situation demonstrates the important stabilising role that Qatar had played under the radar for many years.

Moreover, the potential fallout of the crisis could have ripple waves spiralling out of the border dispute to the much larger Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict and the rest of the Horn of Africa at a time when the sub-region is facing a massive humanitarian crisis. This should serve as a cautionary note for the potential of escalation in other places where Qatari assistance has been keeping the lid on conflict, in particular, the Gaza Strip, where as a result of the increased isolation of Qatar by its Gulf neighbours we may see the end of the single most important donor to the reconstruction of the besieged territory to date. This should focus the minds of world leaders on the need to resolve the Gulf crisis amicably as soon as possible.

Professor Sultan Barakat is the director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and professor in the Department of Politics at the University of York.

Dr Sansom Milton is a senior research fellow at the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


This cable, made public by Wikileaks, was sent by the then Ambassador to Ethiopia, Don Yamamoto on 24 April 2007. Although dated, it is still of considerable interest.



2. (S/NF) Prime Minister Meles and the hard-core elements of the ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) view Eritrea as a state in collapse whose population, if supported by the outside and encouraged by open internal dissension, would revolt against Isaias. The Prime Minister and his cabinet view going to war with the people of Eritrea as a waste of limited resources that would achieve very little. At this time, Meles opposes any war with Eritrea as a futile effort with little benefits, distracting Ethiopia from more pressing issues: Somalia and Sudan.

3. (S/NF) Dealing with President Isaias and the border impasse are two distinct yet interrelated problems. Further, how Ethiopia and its leadership view Isaias and Eritrea, two separate issues, also influences how they will deal with Isaias specifically and Eritrea generally. Perceptions by Meles and his leadership, whether correct or not, have become more emotional and more firmly negative toward Isaias, and have shaped the approach, whether wise and logical or not, that Ethiopia is taking towards Isaias.


4. (S/NF) President Isaias is viewed by Meles and his government as an extremely dangerous, hostile, and evil individual whose sole goal is to make Eritrea the dominant power in the Horn of Africa and to promote Isaias’ role as paramount leader in the region. Ethiopia stands in the way of Isaias’ desire for dominance in the region. Meles and the TPLF leaders believe Isaias has no “death wish” but that Isaias’ self preservation does not merely mean survival, but forcing others to make sacrifices, from enduring great economic hardship to even the pain of death, to ensure Eritrea’s continued existence and eventual elevation of Isaias as primus inter paris leader in the region. Meles and others firmly believe that Isaias knows that he lacks the military might to confront Ethiopia directly. Isaias’ strategy, Meles believes, is to attack Ethiopia by expanding the battlefield to include destabilizing Somalia and using Sudan to conduct attacks on western Ethiopia (e.g., Gambella); increasing tensions between Djibouti and Ethiopia over use of the port of Djibouti, the main lifeline for landlocked Ethiopia’s access to the Red Sea; training anti-Ethiopian rebels; supporting internal political divisions in Ethiopia; planning terrorist attacks on public areas and assassinations of Ethiopian leaders; and keeping the international community off-balance to minimize criticism and sanctions of Eritrea. In our conversations with Isaias over the years, he has made it clear that any future conflict with Ethiopia would be “war by other means” and not a direct military battle of “interior lines” of both forces.


5. (S/NF) Meles and his leadership believe that dealing with Isaias directly or indirectly is dangerous and detracts from more pressing and immediate challenges. For Meles and his leadership, Ethiopia’s national strategic interests lie in stabilizing Somalia, eliminating extremist threats, and establishing a government in Mogadishu that has wide clan support and is closely aligned with Addis Ababa. The other ADDIS ABAB 00001275 002 OF 007 threat is Sudan. As Meles deeply fears that an unstable Sudan potentially poses a greater threat to Ethiopia’s security and to regional stability, he looks to the international community to stabilize Sudan. Between these two pressing and dangerous situations is Isaias. Isaias hosts 30 different opposition groups, and his more effective management of groups opposed to Ethiopia, in contrast to Ethiopia’s clumsy and ineffective efforts to support groups antagonistic to Isaias, underscores Isaias’ potential to add to regional instability. Historically, Meles’ approach was to carefully keep Isaias in a “box” by strengthening Ethiopian forces along the border, neutralizing Eritrea’s influence in Somalia, and increasing Eritrea’s isolation in the international community.

6. (S/NF) But now, Meles sees that this approach must be modified to include more vocal criticism of Eritrea as a “rogue state” sponsoring terrorism and seeking to destabilize the region. The Foreign Ministry has pressed the international community to openly criticize Eritrea, and wants to introduce UN Security Council resolutions and African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) communiques condemning Eritrea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Further, Meles has elevated Eritrean opposition groups in Ethiopia, designating GOE State Ministers, rather than office directors, to deal with them. Meles is also carefully working the Sanaa Forum and IGAD to increase pressure and isolation of Eritrea: Eritrea’s recent decision to suspend participation in IGAD followed an April 13 IGAD Ministerial communique endorsing Ethiopian actions in Somalia as “fully consistent” with the region’s goals. Meles has commented to us that he is in a “bind”. He does not want, nor can he afford, to go to war with Eritrea, because it will divert resources from the more important goal of stabilizing Somalia for now and perhaps Sudan down the road. For now, Ethiopia will not go to war with Isaias and will not take any extraordinary measures to neutralize him, but expects the international community to pressure Isaias on his destabilizing activities. We have assured Meles that we recognize Eritrea’s unhelpful activities, but that Meles should focus on our mutually shared efforts in Somalia: providing force protection for AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops, support for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and security at the airport and seaport and for the upcoming national reconciliation conference.


7. (S/NF) Despite occasional public statements to the contrary, Meles and other GOE principals do not want the UN Mission in Ethiopian and Eritrea (UNMEE) to go away, because it serves as a useful tripwire, and its departure would eliminate the last remnant of international community commitment to avert war. Further, Meles views UNMEE as an important element, if not necessarily an effective mechanism, in tracking Eritrea’s encroachment into the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and serving as a challenge to Isaias who has imposed numerous restrictions on UNMEE. Both the current UNMEE Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) and his predecessor have consistently hailed Ethiopian cooperation with UNMEE, and the GOE’s relative transparency in declaring Ethiopian troop movements. Meles will maintain a sizable force along the border but primarily in defensive positions ready to repel Eritrean aggression. Meles believes that resolution of the border conflict depends on addressing the fundamental issues that divide both countries. Even acceptance of a demarcated border would not end the dispute; Meles believes that Isaias would only find another issue to antagonize Ethiopia. Meles will continue to seek international support for normalization talks, pointing to the support by the Witnesses to the Algiers Agreement of 12 December 2000 (i.e., Algeria, the AU, EU, the United States, and the UN; see S/2006/126 of February 2006) as a critical condition to ensure the peaceful resolution of the border dispute. B. (S/NF)


8. (S/NF) After the assassination of his security chief, Kinfe, and the 2001 firing of the CHOD, Lieutenant General Gebretsadkhan Gebretensae, there are few who have the intellectual depth to stand up to Meles’ keen insights into problems. Meles seeks advice from a wide variety of people with divergent views, even antagonistic to his own, in order to ensure that he fully understands all sides. He does not want to be isolated or confined to one single approach. Meles does not stand on protocol and readily invites visitors to meet with him even after our Embassy would not normally make such a request.

9. (S/NF) Meles is an avid reader, with books and reading materials throughout his private home. He is deeply inquisitive and constantly asks questions, verifying information with a variety of sources. He has even called the Ambassador in for private discussions on politics in the U.S. Meles is also very interested in knowing people, who they are, their background, and how they came to have certain ideas and views. But of importance is that Meles constantly challenges set views and policy ideas. The most revealing insight into his flexibility and ability to change positions was his November 2006 conversation with General Abizaid. General Abizaid spoke of lessons learned in Iraq and the importance of understanding your advisors and what goals were to be achieved. He dissuaded Meles from targeting only “technicals” as a waste of time and resources with little benefit, and said that a comprehensive approach was necessary. That conversation, and Meles’ own propensity to think differently, influenced Meles’ approach to Somalia during the initial stages of the conflict, and also the approach in trying to stabilize Somalia. An avid scholar of history, he looked at how other leaders faced challenges and how they responded to crises of faith as well as security threats. Interestingly, Isaias shares some of Meles’ traits (the same inquisitiveness), though perhaps not the flexibility of thought that Meles so keenly possesses.

10. (S/NF) While National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) chief Getachew and CHOD Lieutenant General Samora Yonus (General Tsadkhan’s successor) formally head Ethiopia’s security services and military respectively, they are not believed to be among PM Meles’ closest advisors. Currently, Meles’ main advisors include: TPLF founding member Seyoum Mesfin, who has served as Foreign Minister since 1991; Public Relations Advisor (with rank of Minister) Bereket Simon (AKA Mebratu Gebrehiwot), a founder of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the ethnic Amhara wing of the ruling Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), who also serves as EPRDF spokesman; and a number of other TPLF/EPRDF members. But Meles is changing and moving to new people. TPLF founding member Sebhat Nega’s (AKA Woldeselassie Nega) influence may be waning, while London-based businessman Abdul Aldish’s may be rising. The old TPLF standard-bearers have argued that Meles stopped too soon and should have gone to Asmara. Meles still believes that would have been disastrous in terms of international criticism and also the prospect of being bogged down in a long guerrilla war with Eritrea. The new faces in the EPRDF and TPLF leadership are technocrats with a vision for a new prosperous Ethiopia, e.g., Health Minister Tewodros Adhanom. For these advisors, the border is a distraction, drawing energy and resources away from more important ventures. Ultimately, however, Meles heeds his own counsel. C. (S/NF)


11. (S/NF) It is in the Ethiopian character to never dwell on limited or temporary tactical military successes on the battlefield. Rather, it is the final result which will determine success. Citing Ethiopia’s large ethnic Somali population, shared contiguous border with Somalia, and a delicate balance within Ethiopia between Orthodox Christianity and Muslim ascendancy, Meles and the leadership view stabilizing Somalia as a “critical” national security interest but a work still in progress. The operation is ADDIS ABAB 00001275 004 OF 007 expensive, has cost many lives, and the prospect of failure increases the longer Ethiopian troops remain in Somalia and the longer it takes the TFG to stabilize Mogadishu, the center of gravity in the conflict in Somalia. Meles has always made it clear that Ethiopia, the TFG, and the international community have no more than six months to make a significant impact on Somalia’s future stability. If they do not get the “formula” correct now, the prospect for insurgent battles in Mogadishu, and for Somalia becoming an even greater base for foreign extremists and homegrown terrorists, will make Somalia even more destabilized and that much harder to correct.

12. (S/NF) Tactical military successes in December 2006 and January 2007 in Somalia may have forced some Eritrean “advisors” out of Somalia, it has not stopped Eritrea’s efforts to continue to destabilize Somalia. The presence of former Council of Islamic Court (CIC) members in Asmara, and Isaias’ support and hosting of conferences of groups opposed to Ethiopia and the TFG, is a direct threat to stability in Somalia. Further, while angered by the Eritrean “advisors” who helped prepare CIC extremists for conflict with Ethiopia, the Ethiopians are equally disappointed with the Kenyans, who the Ethiopians believe allowed the fleeing Eritrean military advisors to return to Asmara. Eritrea continues to be a negative factor in Somalia, but Meles’s approach is to neutralize Eritrean influence, not to prepare for direct conflict with Eritrea. He still expects the international community to share the same goals of stability in Somalia, and to believe that Eritrea is a threat to this end state. Severe international criticism and cutting off Eritrea from the outside remains Meles’ current approach to Eritrea. D. (S/NF)


13. (S/NF) Ethnic insurgent conflict has increased, particularly in Ethiopia’s Somali (Ogaden) and Oromiya regions, which host the two main rebel groups, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The GOE has been reportedly ruthless in rounding up suspected supporters and fighters for these groups, which has increased the tensions in these two areas. Eritrea’s support in providing military training and advice has only fueled growing dissension between these groups and the central government. While not viewed as controlling or directing these groups, Eritrea’s influence is significant. Eritrea’s demonstrated activities supporting the ONLF and OLF is not, however, enough to trigger war plans against Eritrea by Ethiopia. The approach by the GOE has been sharp and at times brutal, in neutralizing anti-GOE elements as the best way to minimize Eritrea’s influence.

14. (S/NF) Our efforts to promote a comprehensive approach of assistance and development have so far fallen on deaf ears. Should tensions and conflict in Oromiya and Ogaden increase, and if the GOE does not heed international approaches for more engagement, there is the possibility of increasing blame on Eritrea for Ethiopia’s failed policy approach to these two areas. But we doubt that this would be sufficient to launch any attack on Eritrea. Ethiopia’s problem remains one of manpower and the inability to commit troops and resources to multiple battlefronts. Somalia and internal dissent in Ethiopia remain the focus for Meles. Another war over the border would be impossible to handle. E. (S/NF)


15. (S/NF) If war were imminent with Eritrea, Ethiopia would not/not look to the U.S. for assistance, primarily because the U.S. is far too slow and has yet to fulfill normal promises made to the GOE in response to simple requests such as C-130 repair (seven years and still counting). Further, the U.S. would not support any preparation by Ethiopia or Eritrea for conflict. The primary source for Ethiopia would be the same countries that helped Ethiopia in the last ADDIS ABAB 00001275 005 OF 007 conflict with Eritrea: the Chinese can provide guns and jeeps, the Israelis maintenance necessary, and Russia and Ukraine would likely provide pilots and spare parts. Due to their competitive pricing, North Korea can also be expected to provide materiel to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) is currently using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of Israeli origin. But Ethiopia and Eritrea have used the past seven years to restock their military supplies and reposition troops, rendering any international arms embargo useless.

16. (S/NF) Ethiopia does, however, want U.S. intelligence on positioning of Eritrean forces along the border, an early warning of imminent Eritrean attack, as well as information on the extent of Eritrean support for the OLF and ONLF, and activities in Somalia. They would also want information on Eritrean operatives or elements supported by Eritrea planning terrorist attacks in Addis or in other areas of Ethiopia. Ethiopia would likely seek USG satellite imagery on Eritrea, as it did on Somalia. F. (S/NF)


17. (S/NF) As underscored by Ethiopia’s current intervention in Somalia, international criticism (e.g., EU allegations of suspected war crimes) will not sway Ethiopia’s plans if Meles assesses there is sufficient support in alternate international fora or among key allies/donors. Ultimately, Meles will do what he wants. It would be extremely important for the U.S. to take the lead in unifying the Witnesses in sending a consistent and very strong message that war is unacceptable. No country can convey any different message. More important, unlike the previous conflict, no country can either provide support to, or undercut any arms embargo on, both countries during a conflict. Those countries whose nationals support either country must stand firmly and vocally in opposing any assistance and should take action, even if it proves to be ineffective, to prosecute their nationals for violating the arms embargo. At the same time, we need to be clear to Ethiopia that it plays an important role in promoting regional peace and stability and that the international community supports Ethiopia. Criticism without expression of Ethiopia’s value would only antagonize the Meles government. For Eritrea, as well, the message of hope for a more prosperous future for its people must also be conveyed. Finally, the most compelling action we can take is to cut off the money from the diaspora to both countries. While probably ineffective in the short term and almost impossible to implement, it would send a powerful message to both countries that the consequence of war is financial disaster. Meles and his government, as well as President Isaias, clearly understand this point. During discussions, the cutting off of diaspora funding was raised as one consequence of renewed conflict. Isaias was furious and Yemane Gebreab conveyed to us privately that this action would be tantamount to a declaration of war. Since this hit such a raw nerve, it was never mentioned again by the U.S. G. (S/NF)


18. (S/NF) Eritrea alone could not inflict any economic reasons for Ethiopia renewing conflict with Eritrea. Given Eritrea’s growing economic isolation, Ethiopian officials assess that maintaining the status quo favors Ethiopia in the long term. There must be two parallel and corresponding conditions for Ethiopia to go to war for economic reasons. First, as the eighth-lowest ranked country in the world, according to the UN Human Development Index, Ethiopia remains largely dependent on foreign donor assistance. Should the U.S. and other donors decide to cut off or severely limit assistance to Ethiopia specifically to punish Ethiopia on the border and show that we clearly favor Eritrea, then Ethiopia would reevaluate its relations with the outside world. Second, international action alone, however, is not enough for Ethiopia to go to war. What would be essential in conjunction with any international action against Ethiopia ADDIS ABAB 00001275 006 OF 007 would be Eritrean action to cut off Ethiopia’s lifeline to the Red Sea, the port of Djibouti. Losing port access is one of landlocked Ethiopia’s redlines. In actuality, making Djibouti close operations to Ethiopia would require support from the international community and would signal a clear intent to isolate and sanction Ethiopia, and to hurt Ethiopia economically. However, if Ethiopia assessed that Eritrea were responsible, then this could trigger conflict. H. (S/NF)


19. (S/NF) Like Eritrea, Ethiopia rejects the EEBC’s authority to demarcate the border by coordinates. Should the EEBC decision be finalized but with no further action, this would not precipitate renewed conflict with Eritrea. However, should the international community determine that the border is demarcated, and then impose sanctions and economic restrictions specifically and primarily targeted against Ethiopia without discussion or any effort to bring both parties together, then Ethiopia would reevaluate its position. If Eritrea then proceeds to move troops towards Badme by force, with the consent or non-opposition of the international community, then conflict would commence immediately.

20. (S/NF) The EEBC decision potentially holds the greatest threat to pushing the parties to renewed conflict. It goes against their original guidance on physical demarcation, and on discussion and agreement with the parties to bring both sides to discuss and mutually agree on the placement of the pillars. It also ignores the informal private discussions with the EEBC by the Witnesses on measures to avoid conflict and promote the parties dealing directly with each other on areas of contention. In the rush by the EEBC to finalize the demarcation by any means and conclude the EEBC’s work, they may be inadvertently sowing the seeds of dissension and potential renewed conflict.

21. (S/NF) The international community, specifically the Witnesses, must carefully coordinate a consistent and unequivocal position with the U.N. Security Council and the EEBC, that is conveyed clearly and unambiguously to the parties themselves. Non-action by the international community or the sending of a vague message could potentially increase tensions and have the unintended consequence of pushing one or both parties towards conflict. The Witnesses should be meeting on the EEBC decision immediately, if we are serious about eliminating any potential for war. Our message should also be consistent with the last Witnesses meeting chaired by Assistant Secretary Frazer in February 2006, and with the U.S. negotiated approach on normalization talks to eliminate tensions. I. (S/NF)


22. (S/NF) Prime Minister Meles would have an extremely difficult time gaining popular support and preparing the Ethiopia public for war. Few want renewed conflict, and most view the past war as a conflict by Tigray and the Meles government, not of the Ethiopian people. While the conflict in Somalia is a strategic issue, renewed conflict with Eritrea is seen as a personal issue between two leaders trying to settle private scores. Despite the dominance of state-run media, mere rhetoric on the threat from Eritrea would have little effect in swaying the vast majority of the Ethiopian population. There would need to be a multiple series of actions by Eritrea to incite general support for renewed conflict: e.g., assassination of leaders in Addis Ababa, terrorist attacks against the general Ethiopian population, and a limited and specific military attack by Eritrea against Ethiopia along the border. No one action is sufficient to renew total conflict by Ethiopia against Eritrea, except to respond to “total” war by Eritrea.

23. (S/NF) Preparations for conflict would likely include large-scale mobilization of reserves, and deployment of key ADDIS ABAB 00001275 007 OF 007 military units, such as the Agazi (special forces) commandos. On the economic front, measures could include introduction of rationing on consumer products and/or fuel, the imposition of special surtaxes, and raising the price of state-controlled commodities. 24. (S/NF) Should Ethiopia determine that Eritrea poses a clear and imminent threat, Meles and his government would want international support prior to any conflict (and especially domestic support). As it did prior to intervening in December 2006 in Somalia, Ethiopia would likely seek support in international fora, such as IGAD and the African Union, where it holds a prominent seat as one of 15 members of the AU Peace and Security Council, and is able to galvanize support from throughout the continent. Further, Ethiopia would begin to signal not only hostile anti-Eritrean rhetoric but also, more important, messages that conflict is likely. (The current rhetoric by Ethiopia against Eritrea is troubling, but thus far we have been consistent in our approach that such rhetoric is unhelpful.) In such a scenario, it would be extremely important for the international community to be unified and to express to both sides a consistent and strong message that conflict would not be tolerated. In 2001 in our resumption of discussions with both parties over the border, we delivered strong messages of the consequences of renewed conflict, intentional or unintentional. Both parties understood clearly what our message was, and that the witnesses stood firmly behind the U.S. The problem now, is that we hold very little leverage over Eritrea, they do not listen to us, and even the benefits of not going to war (debt relief and reconstruction funds) may not be important to Isaias. For Ethiopia, our message in 2001 still holds sway over this government. YAMAMOTO