Indian Ocean Newsletter,
A new border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea could soon be triggered over the port of Assab according to the Indian Ocean Newsletter.
As reported, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Chenawi, is strongly tempted to put his recent public threat into practice. This threat, which he levels against President Issayas Afeworki of Eritrea, would consist of providing Ethiopian backing for Eritrean opponents.
According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, some Eritrean rebels and an amount of military equipment are being grouped for this purpose at Mille, a small township in Eastern Ethiopia, situated near the Djibouti and Eritrean borders. T
his would be intended to prepare for a possible military operation against the Eritrean port of Assab. However, such an operation stands little chance of succeeding unless it is backed by hardened Ethiopian troops, which would lead to a significant new border conflict. It could therefore merely be a manoeuvre to create a diversion or a bluff by Addis Ababa as a means of applying diplomatic pressure on Asmara.
However, EPRDF (Ethiopian ruling coalition) officials in the army hold a more trigger-happy stance in speaking to their troops. They prepare them for the idea of a new war against Eritrea, whose immediate aim would be to recapture the port of Assab. They generally add that this warring plan has the approval of Washington and London.
Meles Zenawi is currently a major promoter of themes liable to cement national unity against outside enemies, both real and imaginary. His aim is especially to dissuade any Ethiopians who might be tempted to question his domestic policy in similar ways to the Arab revolutions. But this Ethiopian propaganda in favour of violent overthrow of President Afeworki could, at any moment, result in sparking a new military conflict between the two countries.
On behalf of the Eritrean Government, the ambassador Girma Asmerom requested at the 275th Meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (26 April), that Ethiopia must respect international law and the Final and Binding Delimitation and Demarcation arbitration Decisions of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) and “must unconditionally withdraw from sovereign Eritrean territory”. According to him, as it is articulated in the Algiers Agreement Article 4 Paragraph 15 and Article 5 Paragraph 7, the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) has unanimously delivered its Final and Binding Delimitation and Demarcation Decisions in April has 2002 and November 2007 and therefore “there is no contested or disputed border between Eritrea and Ethiopia”.