Another War in the Horn?

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Ethiopia deploys over 2500 soldiers between Ethio-Sudan borders

Vehicles heading in droves to the border

 

By  Staffer 18/12/10

It seems another war is gonna break in the horn of Africa possibly in the Ethiopia and Sudan border. The grounding is from the Ethiopian side to attack its own rebel forces in/through the border, escort Eritrean rebels via Sudan to Eritrea or fight a war with Sudan itself. Sources from the Ethiopian Defence Forces revealed that within the past week alone a good number of soldiers have been deployed to metema town, the border town between Ethiopia and Sudan. The forces and stakeholders from the Ethiopian side are being told that the deployment is in preparation of a war with Sudan as “it has been expelling Ethiopians in the border and in Sudan.”

 

“Over 2500 soldiers are being transported to Metema since last night (17/12/10). Around 38 buses with a holding capacity of 60 people have been contracted between the Ethiopian Defense Forces and private bus transporters to convey the soldiers to North Western part of Ethiopia. They will transport them in two rounds: First Round from Werso Military Training Centre to Metema and in the Second Round from Bersheleko Military Training Centre to Metema .Most of the selected drivers are paid 20-30 thousand per Chauffer .The soldiers and stakeholders are being told as if there was going to be war between Ethiopia and Sudan because Sudan is expelling Ethiopians from Sudan’’ The Source indicated.

 

Military convoys and tanks have also been moved to Metema within the past two weeks. Metemma (also known as Metemma Yohannes) is a town in north-western Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan. Located in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, Metemma has a latitude and longitude of 12°58′N 36°12′ECoordinates: 12°58′N 36°12′E with an elevation of 685 meters above sea level. Across the border is the corresponding Sudanese village of Gallabat. According to the British diplomat Hormuzd Rassam, who travelled through Metemma in November 1865 on his diplomatic mission to Emperor Tewodros II. Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia published in 2005, Metemma has an estimated population of 3132 males and 2449 females for a total population of 5581 (Wikipedia).

According to Asmerino.com, between 29 November and 12 December 2010, a delegation of the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EDPD) headed by Party chairman, Mr. Woldeyesus Ammar, conducted important discussions with high-level authorities of the fraternal Ethiopian government as well as with organizations and individuals on questions of vital importance to the Eritrean people’s cause for change and democratization.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi responded to the delegates saying the engagement strategy of his regime with Eritrea has changed as of January 2010.

 

“Till the onset of 2010, we were focused on developing our country without Eritrea [and its ports] and we scored great achievements. It was our policy to ignore Eritrea and its regime as long as that regime did not provoke Ethiopia for a reaction. However, today, and taking into consideration the developments in the region, EPRDF has adopted a new strategy for effective action that can accelerate the downfall of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ ) regime in Eritrea.” He said

 

Meles also asserted to the delegates that “Any means of struggle is legitimate and acceptable. But as EPRDF, we can have our own view as to which means of struggle is more effective in the current Eritrean situation. We can say peaceful and democratic means of struggle cannot give quick results in Eritrea.”

 

This tells that Meles is ready and committed more than ever to overthrow the Eritrean regime by using the Eritrean armed opposition groups as proxy. Both regimes have a strong intelligence force within the status quo and military’s of the opposite nations. I remember once an Eritrean former high ranking military officer during the Ethio-Eriterian border war (1998-2000) telling me that Tigrean spies were within the Eritrean army claiming that they are Eritreans deported from Ethiopia. Some of these double agents, as to him “were caught passing information to the enemy forces (Ethiopian)”. Similar scenario exists within the Ethiopian counterpart.

 

The continuously increasing build up of forces within the Ethio-Sudan border by Ethiopian soldiers and vehicles has puzzled many.

 

My assumptions on the military build up

 

 

Assumption 1. There are apparent intelligence and corporal information that Meles has lumped up all Eritrean oppositions to come together and use only gun to remove the Issayas regime. There are armed Eritrean forces, though few, organised under religion, ethnicity as in the case of Kunama , afar and other small oppositions…now he wants to merge all of them with those that say peaceful only and wage war…. after all this is what he meant by change of strategy towards Eritrea as of Jan.

Similarly as Meles is preparing to hand over a long stretching Ethiopian land area to Sudan, the force might also have been deployed to facilitate this process.

 

Assumption 2. if war breaks out between Ethiopia and Eritrea,the only perpetrator and wager of the war is the Meles Zenawi side because….Eritrea has no man and economic power, psychologically weakened force, and so on to go to war with Ethiopia at this moment…so if there is …it will only be Meles attacking Eritrea, and this scenario is still unassented.

 

Assumption 3. Meles is frightened of the new grouping of forces that are forming unity in Eritrea especially UEDC, the Unity of Ethiopians for Democratic Change. This Unity includes,Tigrean People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM) grouping and because Meles knows that Isayas fully supports and wants to concoct another Tigrean puppet in Ethiopia via TPDM and as in the past few weeks and months TPDM has been making an effective and strong attack in Tigrean borders and mobilizing Tigrean youth ,Meles above and all is compelled to avert this and squash the oppositions. To this end he might use the Sudan border.

 

 

In this volatile area Ethiopian Peoples Patriotic Front (EPPF),has also been attacking government forces in Quara and Metema borders.

 
Assumption 4.As the regime in Ethiopia said the war is going to be with Sudan. This is less feasible. The up to date diplomatic and military situations of the Sudan and Ethiopia don’t presage that.

 

Assumption 5. Last but not least.This assumption sounds to be the most probalable , a Meles regime insider says the forces are being deployed to protect Ethiopia from fleeing Sudanese soldiers and Ethiopian rebels from entering Ethiopia if the January 9 ,2011 Sudanese Referendum ends up a menace ” during the civil war in Ethiopia in 1991 tens of thousands of soldiers fled to Sudan…same thing can happen now, thousands of armed men may desert to Ethiopia…that may be the reason why our troops are moving…to protect Ethiopia.If there is chaos in sudan…other armed opposition groups might attempt to exploit the situation to launch attack against our government (Ethiopia).The proximity of metema to both Eritrea and Sudan could be the cause for the huge deployment in this area ” the source said.

 

If the Sudanese government can’t solve the referendum peacefully and the issue turns out uncontrollable,it can spill over to Ethiopia and may affect Ethiopia’s oil import from Sudan as more than 75% of Ethiopia’s oil imported from Sudan, ” Whatever bad unfolds, numerous number of Sudanese refugees from Sudan will flock to border towns such as Metema,Gambela,Benishangul and Tigray.Currently,there are tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in Gambella.” he added.

Voice of America reported on the 17th December,2010 that problems remain before the vote can start. As many as six cases have been filed in Sudan’s constitutional court challenging the referendum commission and the legality of the vote. The court has agreed to hear one of the cases so far, brought by a group of civil society organizations. They claim southerners in the north have been prevented from registering by the southern ruling party.One of the court cases has the potential to stop the referendum.

The South Sudan Referendum can lead the Horn of Africa into a total civil war,unless handled well.There are direct and indirect effects of the Referendum that can create a fertile ground for rebel groups,oppositions,foreign powers and regimes in the region to achieve their goals or lose their hold.

 

 

 

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