Monday, November 7

Rumors of War

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody border war from 1998-2000 with a death toll estimated to be anywhere from 70 to 100 thousand, the dislocation of millions, and the waste of billions of dollars.

There is absolutely no justification for another single drop of blood, sweat or tears to be shed or wasted by anyone in any possible disagreement the two may yet have.

The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has been over for years now after a costly Ethiopian victory and a costly Eritrean loss. Having inexplicably accepted arbitration, the Ethiopian regime presented its case so poorly that Ethiopian lost what it had gained in defensive war.

The Ethiopian regime has been refusing to accept the arbitration results while simultaneously claiming to accept them for years now. There will always be tensions between the countries but the timing of the recent rumors of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is very suspect.

Why is it all suddenly an issue now?

Whatever tensions there are between both regimes, we think that they both seek out mutual interest in hardball realpolitik cooperation. The interests of both regimes are served by rumors of war but certainly not those of their people.

The Eritrean government wants attention from the West because it is going broke and because it faces rising internal opposition. The potential for conflict has provided the government with its raison d'etre and has justified endless general mobilization since then along with the lack of political rights.

The Ethiopian government wants Western interest to change subjects from the collapse of the pretense of democracy onto the more manageable topics of law, order and regional security issues dear to the hearts of donor nations. Rumors of war provide just such an opportunity.

Both parties may also feel a rising sense of comradeship based upon a fear of an Ethiopia not divided and weakened by tribal politics. The inclusive nature of all the opposition to all ethnicities and their wholly national approach to politics are imagined to be potential threats to both regimes.

Both regimes see their security in an Ethiopia where Oromo, Tigrayan, Amhara, Gurage, Sidamo and all others are locked in mutual animosity. The fact that no one wants conflict and that everyone benefits from peace is of no matter.

Stranger alliances have been formed in history on a similiar basis.

After years of tension the rising tide of somber war warnings is reaching a high water mark just as a long planned crackdown on the opposition turned very bloody in Ethiopia.

We're not buying any of the rumors of war - the issue of war is a sideshow to distract from the real issues that Ethiopians and Eritreans have to deal with.

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