Interesting tidbits – Ethiopia


June 11, 2009: Ethiopia is under growing diplomatic pressure from Western nations to stop persecuting opposition politicians in advance of the national elections next year. It is feared that Ethiopia is turning into a dictatorship again. China doesn’t care, but many other nations do. However, none of them want to do much about it, as Ethiopia is an island of tranquility in a volatile region.

The UN is under great pressure to sanction Eritrea, which is the major supporter of Islamic radicals in Somalia. Eritrea is doing this to get back at Ethiopia, as the two nations are disputing a patch of desert on their border. Eritrea is controlled by a dictator who runs the country like it’s North Korea and doesn’t care what the world thinks. Iran supports Eritrea, with cash, weapons and the use of key allies in the UN (like China and Russia). Thus UN sanctions are unlikely, although Western nations running the pirate patrol may be persuaded to blockade Eritrea. The UN will do nothing, other than call for donations, to keep the killers and potential victims fed.

June 4, 2009: Somali rebels in Ogaden continue to threaten oil companies working in the province. The rebels (the ONLF, or Ogaden National Liberation Front) have been keeping a low profile since Ethiopian troops came after them last year, and killed or captured many of the ethnic Somali separatists. The ONLF wants Somalis in Ogaden to get a share of any oil produced. That is not likely to happen.

May 31, 2009: Ethiopia has allowed Eritreans expelled, when the two countries went to war in 1998, to reclaim assets frozen after the expulsion. This good will gesture is an effort to get economic activity between the two nations going.

May 18, 2009: Ethiopian patrols are now crossing the border and passing through Somali villages, collecting information on what the Somali Islamic radicals might be planning. Somali radical groups like al Shabaab have threatened to invade Ethiopia to annex Ogaden province (which Ethiopia and Somalia, or Somalis, have been fighting over for centuries.)

May 14, 2009: China is lending Ethiopia $400 million for road building and power plant projects. The U.S. has donated 88,000 tons of food (worth about $50 million) for Ethiopians in areas where drought has destroyed crops. Western nations are providing Ethiopia with over $2 billion in aid this year, for famine relief and economic development. The economy is crumbling, largely because the biggest export crop, coffee, has declined 40 percent this year because of lower demand (the global recession) and competition.


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