Potential Effects Of The Eritrean And Ethiopian Border Conflict

1313 words - 5 pages

The long-standing border conflict between the African nations of Eritrea and Ethiopia greatly contribute to the overall destabilization in the Horn of Africa (HOA). The United States (US) and Great Britain have historically appreciated the strategic importance of Ethiopia, and the US offered its support by attempting to broker long-term treaties in order to end the conflicts (Lyon, 2006). Despite these efforts the region remains in flux; many believe Eritrea is providing support to Al-Shabab. Eritrea is currently subject to United Nations (UN) sanctions because of their suspected ties to Al-Shabab and other human rights violations (Van Kemenade, 2012). This instability, combined with Eritrea’s and Ethiopia’s involvement with various sects in Somalia, is a threat to US national security and is costing the US and others in the international community large amounts of money in humanitarian aid (Lyon, 2006).
The border between Eritrea and Ethiopia has been a point of contention between the two countries for decades. In 1962, ten years after Italy withdrew from Eritrea, Ethiopia annexed the small port nation, and the two counties remained in non-stop armed conflict for 30 years (Shah, 2000). Ethiopia believed they should have their own rights to shipping ports, and Eritrea was unable to defend itself, in large part because of a weak economy and poor military; additionally, because of this weak economy, Eritrea relied heavily upon Ethiopia’s natural resources (Tesfai, n.d.). By 1991, Eritrea nearly exclusively controlled all possible Ethiopian routes to the sea, however Eritrea was willing to guarantee Ethiopian use of the port of Assad (Van der Splinter, n.d.). In April 1993, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), under the command of President Isaias Afewerki, assumed control of Eritrea and established a provincial government. Once this provincial government was formed, Eritreans overwhelmingly voted for their independence, and the two countries had a reasonably strong and amicable relationship (Lyon, 2006).
By the summer of 1998, the relative cooperative coexistence of the two nations reached a breaking point when Eritrean armed forces occupied the disputed area surrounding the border town of Badme; Ethiopian forces viewed this as an act of war. Between 1998 and 2000, an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 people died, and approximately one million citizens were displaced (Lyon, 2006). The large number of refugees placed a great deal of strain on the humanitarian Non-Government Organizations (NGO) operating in the region, and the conflict undoubtedly stunted the development of these nations (Van der Splinter, n.d.). In response to the brutality of the conflict, the US National Security Advisor, acting as a special envoy assisted in creating a cease-fire known as the Algiers Agreement. The Algiers Agreement provided a 25-kilometer buffer zone between the two countries that was patrolled by troops from the United Nations Mission in...

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