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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Eritrea|Is the Horn of Africa facing another collapsing state?

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 16, 2013

Just as the Horn of Africa is witnessing the slow restoration of one collapsed state – after more than two decades of anarchic conditions in Somalia – it may be facing the collapse of another.

The small country of Eritrea, only 20 years after gaining independence from Ethiopia, has emerged as one of the largest sources of refugees in Africa – as well as one of the most militarised societies in the world. It is increasingly displaying signs of withering state structures and an unsustainable humanitarian situation.

Although Eritrea is sometimes referred to as the North Korea of Africa, a more appropriate point of comparison may be Somalia and its descent into civil war. The already fragile security conditions in Eritrea’s neighbouring states means that its collapse could have major implications for regional stability.

The Eritrean state has, since a 1998 border war with Ethiopia, been caught in a negative spiral of autocracy and deteriorating conditions. President Isaias Afewerki – the only leader this young nation has known – used the threat posed by Ethiopia as a pretext to eliminate all domestic opposition and indefinitely defer implementing the constitution and holding elections. Meanwhile, Eritrean society has been almost totally militarised. An indefinite, compulsory and universal military conscription policy applies to most of Eritrea’s adult population. Its army is now one of the largest on the continent, and has the highest number of military personnel per capita in the world next to North Korea. In 2011, Afewerki took the additional step of arming a large section of the civilian population believed to be loyal to his party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.

Although huge amounts of resources have been devoted to Eritrea’s military, the institution appears to be split by personal and group rivalries, both within the leadership and between the rank-and-file and the leadership. Political power is very much personalised in contemporary Eritrea, and remains largely in the hands of the president and a handful of military generals, who are rivalling and contesting each other over power, influence and control over financial resources.


The increasing number of political and military defections is another symptom of what looks to be Eritrea’s crumbling state apparatus. This includes former Information Minister Ali Abdu, believed to be the president’s right-hand man; tens of thousands of soldiers who have sought political asylum in neighbouring Sudan and Ethiopia; and the very embarrassing case of two military pilots who defected to Saudi Arabia with the president’s private jet, who were also later followed by a third pilot in April 2013, sent by the government to retrieve the plane. Other defectors include members of Eritrea’s Olympics team at the London Games in 2012, 13 players on an Eritrean football team, and artist Michael Adonai.

The growing frustration among army officers manifested itself this January with a revolt led by a colonel and members of his brigade. Their desperate actions – they occupied the Information Ministry and forced the director of the national TV station to read their demands for political reform on air – further demonstrated the emerging cracks within Afewerki’s regime.

Reliable data on the size of Eritrea’s population is hard to come by, but estimates range between 3 and 4 million people. Of these, several hundred thousand have fled over the last decade, and the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Eritrea reported earlier this year that the number of people fleeing every month has now reached 4,000. While the regime is in denial of the deteriorating conditions, Eritreans are voting en masse with their feet. The vast majority of the refugees are young males, and hence a significant portion of Eritrea’s productive workforce have either fled the country or find themselves indefinitely conscripted in the military.

Many of the refugees are trafficked out of the country through Egypt’s Sinai desert, where they can be kidnapped, tortured, and their families in the West extorted for ransom money by regional criminal networks. The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea has identified the involvement of leading figures in the Eritrean military in these criminal networks. The participation of high-level military personnel in these activities – which also include the trafficking of weapons and forced labour – reveals the blatant role illicit economic structures have assumed in Eritrea today. 

A continuation of the country’s current trajectory is unsustainable, and some form of change is inevitable in the near future – the most objective indicator of which is the country’s demographics. Given the absence of institutional mechanisms for managing a leadership change, and the mistrust and insecurities that Afewerki’s divide-and-rule strategies have generated, a collapse of the government could lead to civil war.

Lessons from Somalia

A refugee crisis, high-level military defections, a divided military, ethnic tensions, and a leader displaying irrational behaviour are some of the ways in which Eritrea today resembles Somalia in the years before its collapse in 1991. The case of Somalia also illustrates the difficulty of re-building state institutions once central authority has disintegrated and several armed factions take control.

In the event of state collapse in Eritrea, the security and humanitarian repercussions may in fact outstrip those seen in Somalia. Given the high number of weapons in the country and its near total militarisation, the collapse of state authority and civil war may lead to conflict and deaths on an extraordinary scale. Making this prospect more daunting is the deepening of the country’s ethno-religious divisions in recent years. Nearly every individual in Eritrea’s military and political leadership, for instance, now hails from Afewerki’s Hamasien tribe, and are of Christian background. This has alienated the other ethnic groups and created tensions on a sub-ethnic level as well.

Somalia and Yemen have demonstrated how terrorist groups take advantage of the absence of state authority to recruit members and plan and execute attacks. Groups such as al-Qaeda could find a fertile breeding ground among the politically marginalised and increasingly frustrated Muslim population of Eritrea, which make up somewhere between one-third and one-half of the total population.

Though Eritrea is poor and small, with few natural resources, it has a long coastline along the Red Sea, shares borders with Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia and is close to Saudi Arabia and Yemen – making it important in terms of global trade and security.

The Horn of Africa is one of the most conflict-prone regions in the world, and most of Eritrea’s neighbours happen to be rather fragile sates. Given the symbiotic nature of conflict and state fragility in this region most of these neighbours would be severely destabilised by the collapse of Eritrea’s state apparatus. These states are themselves overburdened by their own internal security challenges, and do not possess the resources and capacity to handle the challenge of another collapsing neighbour. Such a situation would thus require a substantial international engagement.  

While Eritrea’s authoritarian system has so far proven to be surprisingly resilient, if the refugee crisis continues on its current trajectory, the regime is unlikely to survive for much longer. This silent mass exodus will, if not stopped, lead to a humanitarian and security crisis of enormous proportions.


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ግድቡ በግብፅና ሱዳን ላይ አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖ እንደማያሳድር ደቡብ ሱዳን ገለፀች

Posted by Ethio Tribune on June 14, 2013

ደቡብ ሱዳን ግብፅና ኢትዮጵያ በአባይ ወንዝ አጠቃቀም ዙሪያ በትብብር እንዲሰሩ ጥሪ አቀረበች፡፡ ታላቁ የኢትዮጵያ ህዳሴ ግድብ በአባይ ወንዝ ተፋሰስ ላይ መገንባቱ የግብፅ፣ ሱዳንና ኢትዮጵያ የአሁኑና ቀጣይ ትውልዶች ጥቅም የሚያስጠብቅ መሆኑን የደቡብ ሱዳን ዋና ተደራዳሪ ፔጋን አሙም ገለፁ፡፡

የግድቡ መገንባት በታችኛው የናይል ተፋሰስ ሀገራት ማለትም በግብፅና ሱዳን ላይ የሚያስከትለው ምንም አይነት አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖ አለመኖሩንም ዋና ተደራዳሪው አክለው ገልፀዋል፡፡

ግድቡን አስመልክቶ ከሰሞኑ የግብፅ ባለስልጣናት ሲሰነዝሯቸው የነበሩትን አስተያየቶች ደቡብ ሱዳን በአንክሮ ስትከታተል መሰንበቷን የጠቀሱት ዋና ተደራዳሪው የአሁኑና ቀጣይ ትውልዶቻቸው ዕጣ ፈንታ ይሰምር ዘንድ የናይል ተፋሰስ ሀገራት በአባይ ወንዝ አጠቃቀም ዙሪያ በትብብር እንዲሰሩ መክረዋል፡፡

“ኢትዮጵያ የሌሎችን ጥቅም በማይጎዳ ሁኔታ የአባይን ውሃ ለኤሌክትሪክ ማመንጨትም ሆነ ለመስኖ አገልግሎት የመጠቀም መብት አላት፡፡ ግብፅና ኢትዮጵያም በአባይ ወንዝ አጠቃቀም ዙሪያ በትብብር እንዲሰሩ ጥሪ እናቀርባለን፡፡” ብለዋል ዋና ተደራዳሪው፡፡

ደቡብ ሱዳን የናይል ተፋሰስ አባል አገር እንደመሆኗ በወንዙ አጠቃቀም ዙሪያ ከፍትሃዊ ስምምነት ላይ ለመድረስ ከሌሎች የተፋሰሱ አገራት ጋር በቅርበት ትሠራለችም ብለዋል፡፡




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Li urges further Ethiopian ties

Posted by Ethio Tribune on June 14, 2013

(China Daily)

Premier Li Keqiang talks to his Ethiopian counterpart Hailemariam Desalegn during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing on Wednesday. Hailemariam is on a five-day official visit. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

The Chinese government supports domestic companies getting more actively involved in investment cooperation with Ethiopia in a wide range of sectors from infrastructure to manufacturing, Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday.

China’s aid to Africa has never been “conditional”, while Africa has long been a reliable and good friend and partner for China, and bilateral cooperation has progressed well during recent years, Li said during his meeting in Beijing with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Hailemariam started his five-day official visit to China on Wednesday, also his first since he was appointed prime minister to replace Meles Zenawi, who died from illness late last year.

While emphasizing the two economies are highly “complementary” to each other and there is huge potential for the two countries to enhance cooperation, Li said China is willing to join hands with Ethiopia to take bilateral cooperation to a “higher level”.

The Chinese government “supports capable companies to invest in Ethiopia in infrastructure, industrial zones, energy and resources, manufacturing and agriculture,” he said.

China is also “willing to enhance cultural exchanges with Ethiopia, deepening cooperation in education, culture and tourism”, Li said.

China is a major investor in Ethiopia, with reports saying more than 400 Chinese companies have set up businesses there, but there is still huge room for growth, experts said. China has a special economic zone in Ethiopia.

Huajian, a leading Chinese shoe maker and exporter which opened its first factory in Ethiopia last year near the capital, Addis Ababa, said recently it would increase its investment in Ethiopia in the next decade.

The Guangdong-based original equipment manufacturer plans to partner with China Africa Development Fund to set up an industrial chain in the African country with cumulative investment expected to reach $2 billion in the next 10 years.

Senior Ethiopian officials said in late May that the country will sign agreements with China’s ZTE and Huawei Technologies in the next few weeks to expand its mobile phone infrastructure and double subscribers to 40 million.

Li said, as developing countries, both China and Ethiopia are both committed to developing their own domestic economies and improving their people’s livelihood.

Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopian ambassador to China, told China Daily in a recent interview that the country welcomes Chinese manufacturers to take on a larger presence and open more factories.

Li called on the African nation to “continue to provide preferential policies, improving the business environment”.

Hailemariam said “Ethiopia is willing to deepen the pragmatic cooperation with China in a wide range of sectors, encouraging Chinese companies to invest in Ethiopia and willing to protect interests of Chinese companies.

“Ethiopia is a long-term and reliable partner for China, and we much appreciate the efforts that China has made in issues including helping Ethiopia train quantitative talents,” he said.

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Chinese shoemaker Plans a ‘ $2 billion shoe factory’ Project in Ethiopia

Posted by Ethio Tribune on June 4, 2013

One of China’s biggest shoe makers is planning a multimillion-dollar addition to its factory in the impoverished east African country of Ethiopia, the company’s CEO told Financial Times. Huajian, which makes shoes for Western brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Guess will add hundreds of jobs to the factory in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. The company also has an agreement with China Development Bank’s private equity fund, China Africa Development Fund, to co-develop US$2 billion in shoe factories in the country during the next 10 years, with the potential to create 100,000 jobs. Huajian’s move is a sign that more Chinese manufacturers may relocate factories to Africa.


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Low-Cost Wireless Tech Can Help African Development

Posted by Ethio Tribune on April 18, 2013

Low-Cost Wireless Tech Can Help African Development

Low-cost wireless communications offer a practical alternative to traditional wired systems in Africa, and further development of such communications can help overcome research challenges on the continent, a workshop has heard.

Around 30 young scientists, engineers and scholars from 16 African countries attended the Workshop on Wireless Networking for Science in Africa, in Trieste, Italy, last month (112-2 March) to learn about wireless technology.

It showcased examples of inexpensive – and locally managed or owned – wireless technology being used to help overcome developmental issues in Africa, says Joseph Intsiful, who spoke at the workshop.

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Posted by Ethio Tribune on April 10, 2013

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Posted by Ethio Tribune on April 8, 2013

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US plans military war games with African nations in ‘urgent’ mission

Posted by Ethio Tribune on February 12, 2013

A US military officer training African forces (File photo)

The US military’s Africa Command has been newly tasked with “a more urgent” mission of fighting Muslim militants in the continent, establishing a drone base in Niger and deploying troops to conduct war games and training with African nations.

Amid a shrinking military budget and the winding down of the US-led war in Afghanistan, senior Pentagon officials “are scrambling to address the growing threat in North and West Africa by repositioning spy satellites and shifting surveillance aircraft from other theaters,” The New York Times reports on Tuesday.

According to the report, in building the new assassination and spying drone base in Niger, American military leaders seek to increase “surveillance missions” on what they commonly describe as al-Qaeda-linked militants in the area.

Additionally, the US Africa Command plans to deploy military contingents to the region “to conduct nearly 100 exercises and training programs in 35 African countries,” the report adds.

American officials reached a “status-of-forces agreement” last month in Niger, clearing the way for expanding American military involvement in the resource-rich African country, including the drone base, out of which US assassination and spying drones are expected to run missions against various targets in the region.

Commander of the Africa Command Gen. Carter Ham, who has previously led American troops in Iraq, said following an attack against the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the country’s ambassador and four CIA operatives there that he is drawing up plans to have American forces in Europe, West Africa or Djibouti respond more quickly to a crisis in the region.

“Instead of responding in a day,” he said, “they could respond within some number of hours.”

The development comes, however, as American military training bids have not always proved effective, the report adds, citing the defection of US-trained Malian army commanders last year to join anti-government militants, “taking troops, trucks, weapons and their newfound skills to the enemy,” the report notes.

The Africa Command has an annual budget of nearly 300 million dollars and 2,000 employees worldwide, compared with the US Central Command, in charge of the nation’s military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which has an annual budget of about 800 million dollars and 5,000 personnel.



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PM Hailemariam Desalegn fires Junedin Sado whose wife faces terror charges

Posted by Ethio Tribune on November 29, 2012

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s leader has fired a government minister whose wife faces terrorism charges.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday fired the country’s civil minister, Junedin Sado, whose wife is one of 29 people facing terrorism charges related to protests by Muslims who accuse of the government of meddling in their religious affairs. Sado published a letter in the country’s independent newspapers in which he defended his wife and criticized the federal prosecutor’s charges.

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Posted by Ethio Tribune on November 23, 2012

  • Mock military operation in Ethiopia simulates all too real African conflict

    MDG : African Union (AU) :  peacekeeper from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

    Standing in a tranquil spot in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, nestling under the lush, green shadow of Mount Entoto, it is almost impossible to imagine yourself in war-torn Carana. But that is exactly what the 106 participants in Exercise Njiwa (Swahili for peace) are trying to do in the grounds of the eastern brigade headquarters of the African Standby Force (ASF). The tinkling of cutlery that emerges from the refreshment tent is no substitute for the sound of gunfire and mortar rounds.

    In cramped classrooms, full of banks of computers and detailed maps of the imaginary republic of Carana, on the equally fictitious island of Kisiwa, just off the real coast of Somalia, an African Union (AU) peace support operation is being simulated. The participants are undergoing training as part of the civilian and police components of the ASF.

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