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Ex-foes Ethiopia, Eritrea eye peace dividend after historic deal

Discussion in 'The NF Café' started by mr_shadow, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    After declaring an end on Monday to a costly two-decade military stalemate, Ethiopia and Eritrea - one a rising African star, the other among the world's most isolationist nations - appear poised to reap a lucrative peace dividend.

    The dramatic announcement of an end to the "state of war" between the neighbors came at the climax of a two-day visit to Eritrea by Ethiopia's reform-minded Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has led the push for a pacifying of relations.

    "This move opens prospects for real, regional economic integration. Get the economic underpinnings of the region right and you get stability," said Alex Rondos, the European Union's special representative for the Horn of Africa.

    Eritrea, formerly a province of Ethiopia, waged a 30-year war for independence and seceded in 1993. But relations soon soured and around 80,000 people died in a 1998-2000 war.

    Abiy has promised to finally implement the peace accord that ended that conflict, a move that could allow both countries to rein in defense spending and redirect funds to areas with greater long-term benefits, such as schools or roads.

    "Having those resources on both sides channeled back to their economies is a significant positive impact," Belachew Mekuria of the Ethiopian Investment Commission told Reuters.

    "You can't imagine how wasteful it is to secure a border which is more or less artificial."

    Of perhaps even greater economic significance, however, was an agreement to jointly develop Eritrea's ports, a development that would give landlocked Ethiopia, among Africa's fastest growing economies, a vital outlet to the Red Sea.

    Ethiopia is developing its light manufacturing and apparel sectors by building industrial parks that have attracted the likes of U.S. fashion giant PVH, Dubai-based Velocity Apparelz Companies and China's Jiangsu Sunshine Group.

    It is also attracting significant foreign investment into agriculture and horticulture, making use of climatic conditions resembling neighboring Kenya to become a major source of cut flowers to Europe.

    However, for maritime exports Ethiopia has been heavily dependent on ports in tiny neighbor Djibouti.

    According to the Ethiopian Textile Development Institute, it takes up to 44 days for clothing consignments leaving Ethiopian factories to reach buyers in Europe, compared to an average 28 days in Bangladesh and 21 days in China.

    Eritrean ports could ease bottlenecks. And while the required upgrades are likely beyond the means of Eritrea, financial backing from Ethiopia could make them realistic.

    "There are enormous potential complementarities between the two countries if the recent political advances are consolidated," said Andrew Mold, who heads the East Africa office of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

    LONG ROAD

    In the first concrete signs of a healing of relations, the two countries re-established telephone connections. Ethiopian Airlines is also due to begin flying to the Eritrean capital Asmara next week.

    Reflecting investor optimism, Ethiopia's dollar-denominated 2014 bond soared for the third straight session on Monday to trade at its highest level in 10 weeks.

    However, challenges remain.

    Ethiopia faces heavy debt related to an infrastructure drive that included a $4 billion, Chinese-built railway to Djibouti. The need to finance further upgrades, this time in erstwhile enemy Eritrea, will test its borrowing capacity.

    Though growth has averaged nearly 10 percent for the past decade - starting from a very low base - analysts say the Ethiopian economy is choked by dollar shortages caused mainly by heavy public investment in mega-projects.

    Both sides will also probably face opposition to the rapprochement from entrenched hawks at home.

    Two people were killed in a grenade attack on a pro-Abiy rally in Addis Ababa last month with suspicion falling on those opposed to the prime minister's reform agenda.

    Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki's government is notoriously isolationist and its initial silence in the face of Ethiopia's overtures was interpreted by some as scepticism.

    But its decrepit economy, which forces thousands of young Eritreans to flee every year, most of them to Europe, and the prospect of relief from international sanctions could give the government an incentive to stick to the deal.

    "The economy in Eritrea is in very dire straits. It would be logical for it to also want re-engagement," said Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at London's Chatham House think tank. "But this will be a slow process with fits and starts."

     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  2. Mider T VM Rapist

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    Somalia take notes.
     
  3. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Ethiopia strikes me as the Japan of Africa.

    They were famously the only African country not colonized (except for a brief Italian occupation) and also the only to adopt Christianity directly from the Middle East rather than have it mediated by Western European missionaries. IIRC they are also the only Africans to still use an indigenous writing system rather than the Latin or Arabic alphabet.

    Similar to the Japanese ruler, the Ethiopian leader was acknowledged as "Emperor" in European languages, rather than use a barbarizing title like "chief". Suggesting a degree of equality with the white man not really attained elsewhere in Africa.

    Coincidentally their population is has just broken 100 million and is almost the same as the Land of the Rising Sun.
     
  4. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki was due to arrive in Ethiopia on Saturday to cement a stunning rapprochement between the neighbours that has swept away two decades of hostility in a matter of weeks.

    The countries' armies have been facing off across their border since a two-year war broke out in 1998 over territory and other disputes, claiming the lives of an estimated 80,000 people.

    Full-scale fighting ended in 2000 with the signing of a peace deal but tensions burned on after Ethiopia refused to accept a boundary commission's ruling over a border town.

    Then Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April this year, announcing a series of sweeping reforms and, soon after, plans to mend ties with Eritrea.

    Isaias' visit comes less than a week after Abiy visited Eritrea's capital Asmara to sign a pact that declared an end to their "state of war".

    The following is a timeline of the Horn of Africa countries' relations:

    * 100 AD to 10th century - Modern-day Eritrea was part of the Axum Empire, which in its heyday dominated the Red Sea coast and vast stretches of the Horn of Africa. It was one of the earliest Christian kingdoms after its rulers converted during the 4th century.

    * 1890 - Italy formally creates a colony from a thin and craggy swathe of land along the Red Sea and names it "Eritrea" - an Italianized version of a Greek word that means "red land". Rome uses it as a launchpad to invade Ethiopia six years later but its troops are routed by Emperor Menelik's forces in the town of Adwa, the first defeat by a black African army of a European empire.

    * 1935 - Eritrea remains an Italian colony for another four decades. But to avenge the debacle of Adwa, Italy's Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini launches a full-scale invasion of Ethiopia. With the support of British troops, Ethiopian soldiers enter the capital Addis Ababa in 1941, marking the end of the occupation.

    * 1952 - Eritrea is officially federated with Ethiopia two years after the United Nations approved a resolution backing a bid by Emperor Haile Selassie, despite some calls for a referendum.

    * 1962 - Haile Selassie dissolves the arrangement and annexes Eritrea. A year earlier, a small group of Eritreans launched the war for independence that stretched for three decades.

    * 1991 - The rebel Eritrean People's Liberation Front led by Isaias Afwerki captures Asmara, having fought Ethiopia's military leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, alongside rebels from the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) led by Meles Zenawi. The EPRDF invades the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and topples Mengistu.

    * 1993 - Eritrea formally secedes from Ethiopia after a referendum and Isaias Afwerki is appointed president. The Red Sea state initially enjoys warm ties with Ethiopia, which is led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and is dominated by his TPLF group for the next two decades.

    * 1998 - After two years of tensions over trade and other issues, clashes break out along the border over ownership of the disputed town of Badme, before evolving into a full-scale war. More than 70,000 Ethiopian citizens of Eritrean origin are expelled from Ethiopia.

    * 2000 - A peace agreement is signed, brokered by the Organisation of African Unity - the precursor of the African Union - with both sides agreeing to accept an arbitration ruling. An estimated 80,000 people are thought to have died during the two-year war.

    * 2002 - A Hague-based boundary commission hands Badme to Eritrea, but Ethiopia calls for dialogue and says it wants to hold discussions with Asmara before implementing the ruling, which Eritrea rejects. A standoff prevails.

    * 2012 - Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, Eritrea's former ally-turned-foe, dies.

    * February 2018 - After three years of street unrest and violent protests, Meles' successor, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, resigns in what he describes as a bid to smooth reforms.

    * April 2018 - Former army officer Abiy Ahmed is appointed as Ethiopian premier and vows to seek peace with Eritrea. In June, the 41-year-old announces that Ethiopia would honour the provisions of the 2000 peace deal and the boundary commission ruling delivered two years later. He visits Asmara a month later and signs a pact on the resumption of ties. The two nations declare an end to their "state of war".

     
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