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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".

     
  5. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    When Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war in 1998 and deported each other's nationals en masse, Addisalem Hadgu thought he had nothing to worry about, safe in the belief his Ethiopian passport would shield his Eritrean wife from expulsion.

    Two years later, as the conflict raged on in trenches along the common border, his wife, Nitslal Abraha, mysteriously disappeared along with their two daughters. Addisalem, an Ethiopian state TV journalist, embarked on a frantic search.

    A neighbor approached him several days later and handed him a letter from Nitslal in which she said she had left for Eritrea with Azmera and Danayt, who were teenagers at the time.

    The letter did not explain her reasons but Addisalem suspected that she, like millions of others on both sides of the conflict, had been swept by the patriotism and nationalism that engulfed both countries as bloodshed escalated.

    "One day, we may meet," the letter read.

    For 18 years, they didn't. There was no way to communicate - all transport links, phone and postal services had been severed since the start of the conflict.

    But this month, a reunion became possible when the two governments - bitter enemies for nearly two decades despite agreeing a ceasefire back in 2000 - signed a peace deal that ended a generation of hostility in a matter of days.

    After Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed shook hands, hugged and pledged to restore ties, Addisalem was among more than 400 passengers who flew to Asmara on Wednesday on the first direct flight between the Horn of Africa neighbors since 1998.

    Only months earlier, he had given up hope of a reunion. Over the years he had tried to reach out, including a request to the International Committee of the Red Cross to find his wife's contacts, but to no avail.

    He even considered traveling to Eritrea through Sudan with the help of people smugglers but was advised against the trip because of the exorbitant cost and risks to his safety.

    "Everything discouraged you. I used to ask myself whether I was going to be deprived of seeing my family (again) because I did not have enough money," said the 58-year-old Addisalem.

    ULULATIONS AND TOOTHACHE

    While his friends tracked down his eldest daughter Azmera through Facebook and he exchanged messages over the last two years, Addisalem often found himself distraught over his inability to speak to her in person.

    "I collapsed and blanked one day," he told Reuters a day after his arrival in Asmara. "I could not control myself. I stopped speaking to her as I just could not take it any more."

    As the pledge to restore Ethiopian-Eritrean ties gathered pace and the possibility of a rapprochement grew over the months of June and July, he contacted her again.

    They agreed to meet at the home of a relative.

    On Thursday, outside a small brick house in Asmara's Geza Banda 'Tilyan district, Addisalem was received to ululations and cheers. Husband, wife and daughters embraced for the first time in 18 years. Initially, it was only small talk.

    "I came despite a toothache," he told her.

    "I am a bit ill as well," Nitslal responded.

    He then broke down in tears as his daughters hugged him.

    "It was years of darkness. The separation and longing was unthinkable. Imagine someone who just won a lottery. That is now I feel now," Addisalem said, lamenting the long and bitter price paid by ordinary people on both sides of the conflict.

    "This was unnecessary. I lost my family because of it. We all fought in it one way or another."

    His other daughter, Danayt, could scarcely believe she was seeing her father again. "He might be sitting next to me now but I am still horrified that I might lose him again," she said.

    Overcome by emotion, Addisalem sidestepped any questions about the past, including why his wife had left with their two daughters, although their son had remained with him.

    With the thaw between Ethiopia and Eritrea still in its infancy, it was unclear where the family would end up living.

    Addisalem just looked to the future. "I do not care now," he said. "I have turned my back on the past and will enjoy the future with my daughters."

     
  6. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border on Tuesday for the first time in 20 years, Asmara said, clearing the way for trade between the former foes after a stunning reconciliation.

    Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier at Bure, a region that saw some of the fiercest fighting during their 1998-2000 war.

    Tensions over the border burned on after that fighting ended - until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that have reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

    Isaias and Abiy "officially opened the Debay Sima - Burre border point between z two countries for road transport connectivity," Eritrea's Information Minister Yemane Meskel said in a tweet.

    The two leaders then opened the Serha-Zalambesa connection in a second ceremony, footage on Ethiopia's state TV showed.

    The leaders also celebrated Ethiopian new year together at border with their troops, Fitsum Arega, Abiy's Chief of Staff, said on Twitter.

    Pictures on Fitsum's Twitter account showed the leaders talking and walking side by side, Abiy in camouflaged military fatigues and Isaias wearing sandals and a safari suit.

    Since signing an agreement in Asmara on July 9 to restore ties, the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders have moved swiftly to end two decades of hostility.

    Eritrea reopened its embassy in Ethiopia in July, and Ethiopia reciprocated last week.

    The two countries have resumed flights. Eritrea has agreed to open up its ports to its landlocked neighbor and last week announced plans to upgrade a connecting road.

    Residents on another part of the border said Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers started clearing landmines on Monday.

    Ethiopia follows a calendar similar to the ancient Julian calendar — which started disappearing from the West in the 16th century — meaning the country entered its year 2011 on Tuesday.

     
  7. San Juan Wolf They're even better when you're dead

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    It was his awful bitch of a wife who left him by taking their kids into an enemy country in secret basically saying "one day you can wish upon a star to find your children again, lol".
     
  8. Darkmatter Lion's Sin of Pride

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    I have never seen tensions between two countries thaw out so fast as this. The tensions that lasted for a little over two decades has been resolved within weeks.
    This is truly impressive.
     
  9. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    This is probably a runner-up for the Nobel Peace Prize in case things turn sour in Korea.

    The NPP is announced October 5. The website says that the final vote takes place "at the beginning of October", so not more than five days before the announcement. And there's rumors that for very divisive candidates (e.g. Obama) the final decision was reached as little as a few hours before the press conference.

    So if Moon Jae-in, and/or Kim Jong-un, and/or Donald Trump (the prize can be shared by up to three people) are on the final shortlist, they have until ca. October 4 to prove they're deserving of the prize.

    Looking at it that way, Kim both holding a third summit with Moon on September 18, and inviting Trump for a second summit "soon", could be viewed as "Nobel bait". (c.f. )
     
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  10. makeoutparadise I will have my revenge

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  11. Alwaysmind Lunesdi al vespre.

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    Time to take out the injera and celebrate.
     
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